Billy Torrence (Top Fuel), Robert Hight, Erica Enders (Pro Stock), and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle) are No. 1 qualifiers in their respective categories at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway, the 17th of 24 events on the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.
Billy Torrence raced his Capco Contractors Top Fuel dragster to the first No. 1 qualifying position of his 27-race career coming in the final session with a run of 3.784s at 326.32mph. He bumped his son Steve from the top spot and will face Terry Totten when racing begins.
“It felt good, it is a big deal for that Capco team to be number one and two, that is Capco strong right there,” said Torrence. “We intend to do that same deal tomorrow and have two Capco cars in the finals.”
Steve Torrence, who is the current points leader, qualified second following his run of 3.786 at 325.37 and will race Bill Litton on Sunday.
Hight raced to his second No. 1 qualifying position of the season and the 59th of his career.
Hight was able to better his run from Friday in the third qualifying session by posting a time of 3.959 seconds at 324.67mph in his Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car. Hight has one win at this event. The two-time and defending Funny Car world champion has two wins this season and will face Cruz Pedregon in the first round of eliminations.
“I’m pretty jazzed,” said Hight. “This is the time of the year you better have your act together and it is starting to come together for us. We were number one here last year but didn’t get the win so we need to do one better this year and get the win.”
Qualifying second was Ron Capps with his pass of 3.969s at 319.67mph; he will face Jonnie Lindberg. Points leader Courtney Force qualified 10th with her run of 4.025s at 318.02mph and will face Jim Campbell.
In Pro Stock, Enders secured her first No. 1 qualifying position since the Las Vegas 2 event in 2015 with her run of 6.609s at 207.53mph in her Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro. Enders has 19 top qualifying positions in her career and will face David River Sunday during eliminations.
It has been a long road for us since our back-to-back championships,” said Enders. “2016 was a huge struggle and ’17 we got our feet wet again. It is more like a well-oiled machine now and things are going great for our entire program.”
Chris McGaha qualified second with his run of 6.609s at 205.73mph and will face Mark Hogan while points leader Greg Anderson is ninth following his qualifying pass of 6.626s at 208.52mph and will face Jeg Coughlin who qualified eighth.
Smith recorded his second Pro Stock Motorcycle No. 1 qualifying position of the season during his run of 6.852s at 198.47mph during the first qualifying session on Friday and was able to hold onto the top spot. This is his second No. 1 qualifying position at Brainerd on his Elite Motorsports/Denso EBR and he will face Jim Underdahl in the first round of eliminations.
“The bike is working good,” said Smith. “We tried something today first round and it bogged down real bad but we went back and adjusted that and were low E.T. again in Q four. All in all, this new EBR bodywork we have is pretty fast and we have a good package right now.”
Hector Arana Jr. remained second with a 6.877s, 197.08mph pass and will face Scotty Pollacheck. Points leader Andrew Hines qualified fourth and will race Karen Stoffer in eliminations.
Eliminations begin on Sunday at 11 a.m. at Brainerd International Raceway.