Reigning Top Fuel world champion Brittany Force powered to the provisional No. 1 spot on Friday, making the quickest run of the day to kick off the Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals at In-N-Out Burger Pomona Dragstrip.
Cruz Pedregon (Funny Car) and Camrie Caruso (Pro Stock) are also the provisional No. 1 qualifiers at the third of 21 races during the 2023 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season.
Force went 3.712s at 328.86mph in her 11,00-horsepower Flav-R-Pac dragster to vault to the top at her home track, putting the two-time champion in line for her second No. 1 qualifier this season and 44th in her career. Force, who made the fastest run in Top Fuel history at Pomona last year (338.94mph), is also after her first win of the season.
“Honestly, it didn’t feel like a great run to me,” Force said. “It was exciting to go No. 1, but we know we have a little more in it. That’s a good, solid run. Our team made some big, big changes this off-season, but I think in the long run it’s going to be good for us. We’re ready for that first win of the season and I hope it comes sooner than later. We’re aware it might take a couple races, but I feel like we’re getting our footing and I’m confident we’ll have this car figured out soon.”
Justin Ashley, last week’s winner in Phoenix, drove to second thanks to his 3.729s at 329.99mph, while Antron Brown went to 3.730s at 329.34mph to put him third. Ashley will also take on Steve Torrence in the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge, while the other matchup features Leah Pruett racing Shawn Langdon.
The last time Cruz Pedregon was at In-N-Out Burger Pomona Dragstrip, the two-time Funny Car champ made a series of career-best runs and drove to the win. Months later, Pedregon is once again performing at a high level in Pomona, going 3.865s at 302.28mph in his 11,000-horsepower Snap-On Tools Dodge Charger Hellcat SRT to take the provisional No. 1 spot. It would be the veteran’s 63rd career No. 1 qualifier if it holds up as Pedregon looks to keep on rolling in Pomona and possibly pick up his second straight win at the legendary facility.
“I’ve been trying really hard to keep the car in the groove,” Pedregon said. “That was my focus and it was a great run. It wasn’t the start we wanted in Gainesville or Phoenix, but I just think we’re notoriously slow starters. I think we’ll have a really great car for this year and I think we’ll be good the rest of the year. I think we got all the bugs worked out and some of the things we learned at the first two races we were able to apply here. It was just a team effort and it showed with our performance today.”
Robert Hight, who won last weekend in Phoenix, went to the second spot with his 3.892s at 329.99mph, and Alexis DeJoria is third after going 3.883s at 333.49mph. In the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge on Saturday, Hight will take on Chad Green, while DeJoria, who won the first challenge of the year, will face off with Phoenix event runner-up Ron Capps.
Coming off her first career Pro Stock victory, Caruso continued to roll on Friday in Pomona, racing to the provisional No. 1 spot in her Powerbuilt Tools Camaro with a run of 6.518s at 211.79mph. If it holds, the 2022 NHRA Rookie of the Year would pick up her second career No. 1 qualifier and the first of the season. It was another impressive performance from Caruso, who has enjoyed a quick start with the new KB Titan Racing team and is looking to keep the momentum going this weekend at In-N-Out Burger Pomona Dragstrip.
“That was just awesome,” Caruso said. “Pomona has always been good to us, but to go No. 1 right after we won in Phoenix was super special. We weren’t part of the first Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge in Phoenix, but now we are and it’s a special incentive for us. It’s just really cool and I’m thankful they’ve put together something like this. It’s been really awesome starting off the season like this, especially coming into a team that’s been so successful. I didn’t want to hold them back, so it was a relief getting that first win.”
Matt Hartford, who takes on Caruso in the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge on Saturday, is currently second with a run of 6.524s at 211.13mph and Dallas Glenn’s 6.528s at 211.33mph puts him third. The other Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge matchup includes Kyle Koretsky and Phoenix runner-up Bo Butner.
Qualifying continues at 12 p.m. PT on Saturday at Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals at the In-N-Out Burger Pomona Dragstrip.