John Force set the track record at zMAX Dragway on Friday, making the fastest run ever at the facility powering to the Funny Car provisional No. 1 position at the Circle K NHRA Four-Wide Nationals.
Justin Ashley (Top Fuel) and Steve Johnson (Pro Stock Motorcycle) are also the provisional No. 1 qualifiers at the sixth of 22 races during the 2022 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season.
Force, the 16-time Funny Car world champ, went a blistering 3.850s at 334.24mph in his 11,000-horsepower PEAK/BlueDEF Platinum Chevrolet Camaro SS, eclipsing the track record of 3.851s set by his daughter, Courtney, five years ago. Speeds were the fastest ever in both nitro categories.
If it holds, Force would earn his first No. 1 of the season and the 164th of his legendary career. He started the day with a pass of 3.858s at 333.25mph in the opening session and saw even more improvement under the lights.
“We’re looking for consistency and this was a good night for our team,” Force said. “We found something there and I was driving right down the groove. It was pretty cool and a good night for our team. I’ve felt some pressure the last couple weeks but sometimes you get tested in life and to come back and run like this feels good.”
Matt Hagan, who won last weekend in Houston, moved into the second spot after his run of 3.867s at 330.55mph and defending world champ Ron Capps is third with a 3.873s at 332.02mph.
In Top Fuel, Ashley is in line for his first career No. 1 qualifier thanks to his impressive pass of 3.669s at 331.77mph in his Phillips Connect powered by Vita C Shot dragster. After advancing to the final round just days ago in Houston, the young standout put on a show under the lights in Charlotte continuing his consistency from what has been a solid 2022 season. Currently third in points, Ashley already has one win this season and made two strong runs during the two sessions on Friday.
“We’ve been fortunate enough to accomplish a lot in a short period of time, but the one thing that’s sort of eluded us is the No. 1 qualifier,” Ashley said. “It’s obviously great to be able to qualify No. 1 but it’s all about positioning yourself for race day. That was the goal and to be able to accomplish that — it was a lot of fun. We’re going to keep our foot to the floor and keep at it.”
Leah Pruett is currently in the second spot thanks to her run of 3.686s at 327.51mph while Steve Torrence, who has won the last four four-wide races in Charlotte, is third after going 3.694s at 327.43mph.
After winning last weekend in Houston, Johnson took the top provisional spot in Pro Stock Motorcycle right off the trailer, going 6.767s at 198.70mph on his USA Electric Suzuki. Johnson ran into trouble during the second round of qualifying when his bike failed on the starting line but having success in Charlotte isn’t anything new for the veteran these days. He picked up his first PSM win in seven years last year at Charlotte and he appears to be on a solid track thus far this weekend at zMAX Dragway, positioning himself to possibly take the eighth No. 1 qualifier in his career.
“The bike was good and if I would have driven it better it would have been even quicker,” Johnson said. “These bikes are very challenging to ride and to try to go 6.60s or [low 6.70s], the rider really has to do an incredible job. There’s a lot of stuff going on in 6.5s. It comes at you so fast and it’s a lot of work to ride them perfectly.”
Angelle Sampey matched Johnson on time but sits second after going 6.767s at 196.19mph and Eddie Krawiec is currently third with a 6.779s at 198.73mph.
Qualifying continues at 1 p.m. ET on Saturday at the Circle K NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway.