Defending Funny Car event winner J.R. Todd powered to the top of the category Friday evening during the single qualifying session at the 64th annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis.
Mike Salinas (Top Fuel), Tanner Gray (Pro Stock), and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also lead qualifying in their respective categories at the 18th of 24 events on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.
Todd’s ran a 3.910-second pass at 325.45mph in his DHL Toyota Camry during the first of three qualifying days and first of five qualifying sessions. He is on the hunt for his first career Funny Car No. 1 qualifier.
“Listening to (crew chiefs) Todd (Smith) and John Oberhofer before that run back in the pits they weren’t planning on running that good,” Todd stated. “That run is a testament to those guys, the yella fellas, they’re a great group of guys. Three-second runs had been hard for us to come by till Brainerd where we were able to get it tuned up in the semi-finals for one.”
Holding the second position is Bob Tasca III with a 3.928 pass at 322.65 in his Motorcraft Quality Parts Ford Performance Mustang. Points leader Courtney Force secured the No. 1 position in the Countdown to the Championship during tonight’s qualifying session.
Salinas piloted his Scrappers Racing dragster to a 3.756 at 321.04 to lead the Top Fuel class for this first time in his NHRA career.
“This is my first U.S. Nationals and I’m like a little kid in a candy store,” Salinas said. “When I was a kid we only dreamt of this stuff so I’m just lucky enough to come out here and do this. We have a plan and its actually coming together which is scary.”
Antron Brown, a three-time world champion, is second in the standings with his Matco Tools dragster after his pass of 3.772 at 325.22 and Scott Palmer rounds out the top three in his CatSpot Litter dragster.
In Pro Stock, Gray holds the No. 1 spot after his 6.603 pass at 208.68 in his Gray Motorsports/Valvoline Chevy Camaro. He is seeking his fifth event victory of the season and first at the prestigious Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals.
“As a driver, you try to take this race like any other race,” Gray said. “I think when you put more pressure on yourself you’re more prone to mistakes. Winning this event would be really cool for me since my dad (Shane Gray) won this event back in 2014.”
Veteran Greg Anderson is in the No. 2 position with his 6.621 pass at 208.75 in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro. Defending world champion Bo Butner clinched his spot in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship during the lone qualifying session of the evening.
Defending event winner Krawiec is at the top of the Pro Stock Motorcycle order with a 6.825 at 197.02 on his Mello Yello / Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson.
“I think that was an awesome run for it just getting off the trailer,” Krawiec stated. “I made a nice clean pass. It didn’t rattle, shake and it was overall just a very clean run and I’m happy with it.”
Matt Smith is currently in the No. 2 position on his Victory Magnum after his pass of 6.850 at 196.47.
Qualifying at the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals continues Saturday with two sessions beginning at 1:15 p.m.