Brittany Force and the Flav-R-Pac / Monster Energy Chevrolet dragster claimed their fourth No. 1 qualifying position of the season Saturday at the Dodge Power Brokers NHRA Mile-High Nationals.
Brittany Force and the Flav-R-Pac team found their form Saturday when they laid down a 3.816-second pass at 325.53 mph in the third qualifying session jumping them from 14th to No. 2. The improvement continued as the David Grubnic and Mac Savage tuned dragster went to the top with a stellar 3.758-second pass at 325.61 mph for the 36th No. 1 of Force’s career.
“This Flav-R-Pac team is excited about our runs today. We struggled yesterday, couldn’t get down there, problem after problem. Rolling in this morning we were sitting right on that bump. It’s nerve racking, there’s 17 cars here, we want to make sure we get in the show, we want to be top four top 5,” said Force who will race against Terry Totten in the first round of eliminations. “We turned it around today, made two solid passes. We’re feeling good. Great position, it’s exciting but our main focus is race day tomorrow. We’ll have to go home , evaluate everything, have to adjust for the heat but we’ll be looking for four solid runs.”
The Dodge Power Brokers Charger SRT Hellcat of Tony Stewart Racing Funny Car driver Matt Hagan took the top spot on Thunder Mountain in three of four sessions and earned the No. 1 qualifier position at Bandimere Speedway ahead of the 42nd annual Dodge Power Brokers National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Mile-High Nationals.
The defending event winner, picked up where he left off last year by taking his 11,000 horsepower HEMI-powered machine to top of the qualifying sheets with a 3.968 second elapsed time first pass, then improved on it with a solid 3.927-second run to close out Friday qualifying as the provisional polesitter.
Hagan ran his quickest pass of the weekend on Saturday in Q3 at 3.908 mph at 323.12 mph, a time that kept him in the top spot through the fourth session when he had an issue with his burnout and lost traction at the hit of the throttle. That third run by the Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat was strong enough to secure Hagan’s second consecutive No. 1 qualifier position at Bandimere Speedway. It is also his fourth pole position of the season and the 47th of his career.
His qualifying efforts also provided him with 12 valuable bonus points to close the gap on the Funny Car points leader and rival Robert Hight who took over the top spot from Hagan at the last event in Norwalk. Hagan will begin his event title defense with an opening round pairing with No. 16 seed Jack Wyatt.
Pro Stock had a few surprises but Aaron Stanfield was able to remain the top qualifier in his Janac Bros/J3 Energy Camaro. Stanfield ran a 6.946 on Friday and he picked up two more bonus points on Saturday with a 6.989 but he briefly surrendered the top spot to Erica Enders in Q4. Enders ran a 6.938 but Stanfield quickly retaliated with a 6.934 to take the top spot. He’ll get a bye run in the opening round due to the short field.
“I knew we were capable of running better than new did in Q2 so it was not out of the question even after I saw Erica’s run,” said Stanfield. “Everyone thought the field was set and then rain came and changed things up. We got to wait until later in the and day cooled off a little bit. We made that work in our favor. This is really cool for all of us at Elite. It shows how hard they’re working. I can’t thank them enough.”
“This track is great. The stands are packed, and they put on a great show here but it’s different behind the wheel,” Stanfield said. “I struggled yesterday, but I cleaned up my shift points a little and did a better job of driving today.”
Erica Enders made her best run of the weekend after stuggling terribly on her first three passes. She improved on her last pass to secure the No. 2 spot and a race against Mason McGaha in round one.
Matt Smith surprised everyone with a track record 7.107 on Friday, it wasn’t hard to believe that he’d already locked up the top spot. The reigning and five-time champ returned on Saturday to post a 7.149 to secure three more qualifying bonus points and that was just a preview for Q4 where Smith re-set his own record with a 7.090. Smith also set the track speed record at 189.79 mph.
Smith had previously said he might shut off early on both runs on Saturday in order to conserve parts, but he clearly decided different on that strategy.
“The biggest thing is that I saw the Suzuki’s stepping up and I thought Angelle or Steve might go a 7.13 or 7.14 so I tried a new tune-up and went all out,” said Smith, who will have a free pass in tomorrow’s opening round of eliminations. “There might be a little more left. I tried a different tune-up. We played with it on Angie’s bike and it kept responding so I put it on my bike and it worked. I learned something.
“I’ve always loved coming up here,” Smith added. “I won two races here in 2007 and 2008. Then I had a big break of not winning. We always come here to win the race. That’s the whole reason for bringing the V-twin. I wanted to bring something out and be more competitive.”
For the second-straight year, Smith and his wife, Angie, swept the top two spots in qualifying. Angie clinched the second spot after a 7.150 on her pink Denso Buell. Smith will race against Jianna Evaristo in round one and the winner of that bout will receive a bye run into the semifinals.
See a full recap by Kevin McKenna, NHRA National Dragster Senior Editor:
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