Top Fuel’s Justin Ashley delivered a strong performance under the lights at the prestigious 68th annual Dodge Power Brokers NHRA U.S. Nationals, racing to the provisional No. 1 position on Friday at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park.
Robert Hight (Funny Car), Erica Enders (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) are also the provisional No. 1 qualifiers at the 16th of 22 races during the 2022 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season and the final event of the regular season.
In a preview of his semifinal matchup in the Pep Boys NHRA Top Fuel All-Star Callout, Ashley went 3.716s at 330.23 mph in a side-by-side pairing against Steve Torrence, putting him on track to earn his third career No. 1 qualifier in his 11,000-horsepower Phillips Connect dragster. The young standout is also seeking his first victory at the NHRA U.S. Nationals.
“You always want to come out hot and make a good run down the track,” Ashley said. “It’s a special weekend for us and we always want to put on a good show. People are going to go faster than that (this weekend), but this is a really good start for our team. We feel good about how we ran, and we’ll try to put our best foot forward tomorrow. This (callout) is going to be so exciting and we’re ready to go. I didn’t want to think about it too much until after we ran, but we can focus on trying to win it.”
Torrence went 3.725 at 327.51 to sit in the second spot, while Josh Hart is currently third after going 3.726 at 319.37. The semifinal field was also set for the completion of the Pep Boys NHRA Top Fuel All-Star Callout, which will be completed on Saturday. Brittany Force selected Mike Salinas for her opponent, while the other semifinal will feature Torrence and Ashley, with the final round set to take place at 6:25 p.m. ET.
In a thrilling Funny Car session under the lights at the Big Go, Hight powered to the No. 1 spot with a strong run of 3.870 at 331.94 in his 11,000-horsepower Auto Club Chevrolet Camaro SS. It would give the points leader his fourth No. 1 qualifier of the season and the 75th in his career if it holds. Hight, who already has six wins this season, could enjoy a huge weekend at Indy as he’s on the verge of his 60th career win and is also participating in the Pep Boys NHRA Funny Car All-Star Callout on Sunday.
“This race is like a marathon, and you have to take it in stride and one run at a time,” Hight said. “Give an A-plus to the Auto Club team tonight. They did an awesome job. We’ve got a brand new Camaro body on the car and it went well. The forecast keeps changing and we could see runs like this all weekend long, which is going to make it exciting for the fans and a challenge for us as teams and racers.”
Bob Tasca III, who has won two straight races this season, also made a stellar run, going 3.878 at 331.53 to put him second. John Force’s 3.881 at 333.25 gave him the third spot after the first session.
Enders’ dominant 2022 season and run at Indy continued on Friday, as the Pro Stock points leader slipped past Dallas Glenn for the provisional No. 1 with a run of 6.598 at 208.49 in her Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro. Glenn ran an identical 6.598 but went a slightly slower 208.01. Enders is the back-to-back winner at Indy and is racing for her fourth career victory at the U.S. Nationals. She’s also had a dominant season thus far, racking up six victories.
“It’s definitely exciting to come out like that,” Enders said. “We’re coming here with two consecutive victories here at the U.S. Nationals, so we’ve had a lot of success here and I’m definitely looking forward to that trend continuing. Having said that, it’s tough competition out there. We’ve got a new motor in my car, and we saw some promising numbers, so we figured we would run it here. It’s a good start and there’s definitely something left in it, and we’ve got a great race car this weekend.”
Glenn is in the second spot with his quality run, while defending world champ Greg Anderson, who has six Indy wins, is third after going 6.599 at 207.78.
Looking for his 50th career win on drag racing’s grandest stage, Krawiec made a strong first impression in Pro Stock Motorcycle on Friday, delivering a 6.826 at 198.79 on his Vance & Hines Suzuki. It would be the second top spot of 2022 for Krawiec, who has advanced to back-to-back final rounds this year, and the 51st in his career. In addition to the milestone career victory, Krawiec, the defending event winner at Indy, is also seeking his first victory of the season.
“I just want to win,” Krawiec said. “I’m just going to come out here and stay focused on my program, keep my head looking forward. I feel very confident. I’ve got a good motorcycle and I’m coming into where I need to be at the right time. This is a points-and-a-half and it’s about being really consistent on raceday.”
Angie Smith is currently second after the opening qualifying session with a run of 6.859 at 199.85 and Jerry Savoie is a spot behind after going 6.882 at 192.91.
Qualifying continues at 1:15 p.m. ET on Saturday at the prestigious Dodge Power Brokers NHRA U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park. The Pep Boys NHRA Top Fuel All-Star Callout will also finish on Saturday, with the semifinals taking place at 2:40 p.m.