Antron Brown is the preliminary No. 1 qualifier in Top Fuel at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway and is shaping into a contender for his fourth Top Fuel world championship.
Robert Hight (Funny Car), Erica Enders (Pro Stock), and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle) are also preliminary No. 1 qualifiers in their respective categories at the 17th of 24 events on the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.
Brown won the most recent event in Seattle for his first win of the season and his surging Matco Tools dragster took the No. 1 position during the second qualifying session with his run of 3.789 seconds at 325.45mph. Brown has yet to record a No. 1 qualifying position this season but has 49 in his career. Brown also secured his position in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship following the first qualifying session.
“We have been working hard for this,” said Brown. “It is no secret, we have been through our bumps and bruises but the thing about it is that is why you go through the struggles so you have days like this and what we had in Seattle.”
Clay Millican was the leader after the first qualifying session and ends up second with a run of 3.790s at 323.04mph and points leader Steve Torrence is 12th with his run of 4.445s at 180.91mph.
Hight is the current leader in the Funny Car category with his run of 3.971s at 326.95mph in his Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro SS. Hight has one No. 1 qualifying position this season, two wins, three runner-up finishes and is currently third in the points standings.
“Good day, six bonus points, and see if we can get more tomorrow,” said Hight. “The goal tomorrow is to be ahead of everybody but keep going down the track. If we get six more points tomorrow that is big.”
Matt Hagan is qualified second with his run of 3.990s at 324.51mph and points leader Courtney Force is 15th following her run of 4.097s at 313.15mph. Jack Beckman, the 2012 Funny Car world champion, earned his berth into the Countdown to the Championship after the opening qualifying session.
Enders, who is currently third in Pro Stock points, aims for her first No. 1 qualifying position of the season after driving to a 6.609s at 207.53mph in her Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro during the second session of the day. Enders has yet to record a No. 1 qualifying position this season but has one win this season and five runner-up finishes.
“We are really excited to be No. 1 even if it is for just Friday night, we will try to hold onto it Saturday,” Enders said. “Our car is running awesome, I’m definitely driving better so that is encouraging. It was great to go to the No. 1 spot, I have a good hot rod and I’m excited.”
Chris McGaha is second with a pass of 6.613sat 208.33mph and points leader Greg Anderson is eighth following his run of 6.626s at 208.52mph.
Smith, who has one win on the season and one No. 1 qualifying position this year, is the current Pro Stock Motorcycle leader with his run of 6.852s at a track record-setting 198.47mph on his Elite Motorsports/Denso EBR. His last No. 1 qualifying position came in Norwalk, Ohio, and he has one No. 1 qualifying position at the facility.
“We debuted a new body and we were low both sessions,” said Smith. “All and all can’t say enough about Richard Freeman from Elite Performance, Mark Stockseth, Lucas Oil, Denso, and everybody that helps me. I couldn’t do this without them.”
Hector Arana Jr. is second at 6.877s at 197.08mph, Eddie Krawiec is third with his run of 6.886s at 195.45mph and points leader Andrew Hines is fourth following his pass of 6.899s at 195.05mph.
Qualifying continues at 12:45 p.m. on Saturday at Brainerd International Raceway.