From Kelly Wade | NHRA
Hight, Torrence, and Glenn lock into No. 1 qualifier awards at the Menards NHRA Nationals
TOPEKA, Kans. (Aug. 12, 2023) – The fields are set at Heartland Motorsports Park, and Sunday is slated to bring vastly different conditions to set the stage for an exciting and challenging raceday at the Menards NHRA Nationals presented by PetArmor.
The final day of qualifying at Heartland Motorsports Park saw two drivers remain in control of the top spot and another edge out his boss to secure the coveted No. 1. The fields are set and Sunday is slated to bring vastly different conditions to set the stage for an exciting – though challenging – raceday at the Menards NHRA Nationals presented by PetArmor.
Robert Hight hung on to the top spot in Funny Car to claim his 80th career No. 1, while Steve Torrence (Top Fuel) and Dallas Glenn (Pro Stock) secured the pole in their respective categories at the 13th of 21 races on the 2023 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series tour.
Hight's strong run of 3.94-second at 321 mph on Friday in his Cornwell Tools/AAA Chevrolet Camaro SS held up to hand the three-time world champion his third No. 1 qualifier this season and a remarkable 80th in his standout career. Hight also made a strong run to close out qualifying on Saturday as he looks for his third win of the 2023 season. Currently fourth in the standings, Hight has his sights set on a major move over the next three races, and he'll open eliminations on Sunday against Jack Wyatt.
"That 80 is a big number; it shows I've been doing it a long time, but it also shows I've had great teams behind me," said Hight. "You're not No. 1 qualifier without a really good racecar, so this is a tribute to all the good people I've worked with. This is big for us. I think we're turning a corner with this new combination, and it's starting to respond. Jimmy [Prock, crew chief] was happy.
"It's not too late to get back in this points deal and leave Indy with the No. 1 spot. It can happen. Points and a half at Indy, we do good here, do good at Brainerd, we're right back in the thick of things. That's our mindset."
Defending and back-to-back world champion Ron Capps took second in qualifying with a 3.95 at 314 and Matt Hagan's 3.96 at 318 put him third.
A host of competitors came close, but Torrence claimed his first No. 1 qualifier of the season thanks to Friday's run of 3.76-second at 326 mph in his CAPCO Contractors/Toyota dragster. He nearly topped it in his final run of the day, a 3.76, and Leah Pruett made a huge jump with her pass of 3.76, but the Texan hung on for his 35th career top spot. He's set up for a first-round meeting with Terry Totten and will work to pick up his second win in three races – and possibly move into the points lead in the process.
"This morning I felt safe. The conditions have changed and evolved to cloudy and cool," said Torrence. "The big thing is, picking up bonus points throughout the rounds, that's key, that's crucial. We need to pick up those points. I've won a championship by less than two or three points, and it'll be a big deal at the end. Consistency wins races and championships, and that, along with being quick, is what we pride ourselves in. We're going to do the best we can to keep this up."
Pruett's 3.76 at 325 put her second in qualifying, while Doug Kalitta went to third with a 3.79, 316.
Pro Stock points leader Glenn, who turned in a terrific performance Saturday with two strong runs, clocked a 6.64, 205 in his RAD Torque Systems to close out the day and give the Sportsman racer-turned-Pro his second No. 1 of the season. Glenn precisely tied KB Titan Racing teammate and five-time world champion Greg Anderson earlier in the day with a run of 6.653 at 205.66, and Anderson made an impressive pass of 6.64, 205 in the final session – but Glenn answered back to score the fourth No. 1 of his career. He'll kick off eliminations with a first-round meeting with Fernando Cuadra Sr. as he begins his pursuit of a fourth win in 2023.
"As a driver, you cannot make any mistakes," said Glenn. "If you miss one shift, you can fall back four or five spots, just that easy. I don't know exactly what it is, but it's probably two-hundredths between No. 1 through No. 9, so it's going to be a really tight field and a really tough Sunday. We've got a lot different weather rolling in for tomorrow so that's going to throw an extra variable into the mix, but I think we have a really good car for them."
Anderson landed second in the line-up after clocking three strong runs during qualifying, while Matt Hartford sits third with a 6.65 at 206.
Eliminations for the Menards NHRA Nationals presented by PetArmor have been moved up due to the forecast and are now scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. CT on Sunday at Heartland Motorsports Park.
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