Second-generation Funny car driver Chad Head earned the second No. 1 of his career during qualifying for the NHRA Kansas Nationals at Heartland Park Topeka. Antron Brown (Top Fuel) and Erica Enders (Pro Stock) also earned No. 1 qualifiers through three rounds; Saturday’s fourth round was cancelled due to rain.
Head set a new track record time on Friday with a 3.967-second pass at 316.15 mph; he’ll meet Todd Simpson in the first round of eliminations on Sunday.
“You always want to be No. 1 but I am not real accustomed to it,” said Head. “I’ve only done it twice and it always feels good. I am disappointed that it rained. I would have liked to see us all make another run today. We’ll just have to see how it goes tomorrow.”
Defending race winner Courtney Force qualified No. 11 but posted a new national speed record at 325.06 mph; her father John has held the mark since February 2014 (324.12 mph).
“Once you are going faster than three hundred miles per hour you just get into a zone and you can feel when the clutch engages and the car starts pulling you to the finish line,” said the youngest Force daughter. “You can tell when your car is pulling hard and making a fast run, but once you get past 320 mph the runs all feel the same. It is exciting for the fans to see speeds like that.”
Tim Wilkerson qualified No. 2 in Funny Car (3.971 at 322.28 mph), followed by Cruz Pedregon (3.979 at 316.01 mph), Ron Capps (3.989 at 324.12 mph) and John Force (3.990 at 320.74).
Brown took his second Top Fuel No. 1 of the season with a track record time of 3.727 at 313.37 mph; Brown faces Luigi Novelli in the opening round, looking for his 50th victory in the Mello Yello Series.
“The whole team has been doing a great job,” said Brown. “We were trying to go for it on the run today, but we literally hurt the engine when we did the burnout. Even though we didn’t make the run we wanted to make, I’m glad it happened today and not on our first run tomorrow. The car still ran an .86, but the ol’ girl was hurt.”
Richie Crampton qualified No. 2 (3.744 at 327.66 mph), followed by Tony Schumacher at No. 3 (3.748 at 325.92 mph); JR Todd (3.759 at 328.06 mph) and Shawn Langdon (3.760 at 327.19 mph) round out the top five.
Enders earned her third No. 1 of the season with her track record performance of 6.515 at 211.43 mph; she’s up against Mark Hogan in the opening round of eliminations.
“My guys tend to give me a pretty consistent race car, and that makes my job a little bit easier to where I just have to focus on driving and not wonder what the car is going to do,” said Enders. “Being low for every session is pretty exciting. We were able to do that a lot together last year and accumulate those three bonus points per round that you’re low. Coming into that final race last year, every point mattered, so we’ll take ’em when we can get ’em.”
Greg Anderson qualified at No. 2 (6.526 at 211.20 mph), followed by Chris McGaha (6.532 at 211.10 mph), Larry Morgan (6.533 at 211.20 mph) and Jason Line (6.535 at 210.83 mph).
Eliminations for the NHRA Kansas Nationals get underway Sunday at 11 a.m. CT. Keep up with the action at www.nhra.com.
Quotes in this piece provided by the NHRA.