Rain cancelled one round of qualifying on Friday in Chicago, but it didn’t dampen the spirits of the recently-hot John Force, who currently holds the No. 1 spot in Funny Car going into tonight’s qualifying rounds at the O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals presented by Super Start Batteries. Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel), Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) and Scotty Pollacheck (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also lead their respective categories after the first day of qualifying at Route 66 Raceway.
Force had a fast pass of 4.035 seconds (314.02 mph) put him ahead of Don Schumacher Racing drivers Matt Hagan (4.040 seconds/317.19 mph) and Jack Beckman (4.043 seconds/313.15mph).
“Anytime you come to Chicago you usually have killer conditions and after old (rookie Chad) Head went out there and ran 4.05 we knew it was there,” said Force. “Anytime you run good you’re excited and I ain’t had a car that runs like this for a while. Mike Neff (crew chief) and the crew did a great job.”
Schumacher, hailing from nearby Long Grove, Illinois, led the dragsters with a pass of 3.772 seconds (325.45 mph), beating Doug Kalitta (3.772 seconds/322.34 mph) and Shawn Langdon (3.789 seconds/325.92 mph)
“We were actually a bit conservative on the run because we knew we had to make it down the track just in case we have rain tomorrow,” said Schumacher. “But if we don’t have any problems with the weather, the conditions could be even better on Saturday because it will be a couple of degrees cooler. I’m sure that a 3.77 won’t hold for No. 1 tomorrow. But having run the 3.77 on our first pass, that gives us the luxury of going all out on Saturday, and that’s what we plan to do.”
Edwards made a fast pass of 6.602 seconds (208.68 mph) to put himself in position for his 10th No. 1 of the season. Allen Johnson sits second (6.614 seconds/208.68 mph), followed by his teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr. (6.615 seconds/209.36 mph).
“We made a nice run and feel like we might have been a little bit soft in some areas,” Edwards said. “We didn’t know how many runs we were going to get so we just wanted to get down the track. The conditions will be better tomorrow so we’ll see a lot of changes. I think it will be quite a bit better.”
Pollacheck is looking for his first career No. 1 after his pass of 6.929 seconds (191.24 mph). Hector Arana (6.930 seconds/193.32 mph) and Matt Smith (6.937 seconds/193.82 mph) sits second and third, respectively, after round one.
“We hope that will hold up because we really need a good weekend especially after last week,” said Pollacheck, who qualified fourth at Epping but was upset in the first round by No. 13 qualifier Steve Johnson. “Michael [Ray, teammate] has had a great bike, but we’ve had some gremlins with mine. Hopefully we have them exterminated. I think we do have some left over. That wasn’t a perfect run, so maybe tomorrow we can run quicker.”
Qualifying for the Route 66 NHRA Nationals continues Saturday at 4:15 and 7:15 p.m. CT. Eliminations get underway Sunday, June 30th at 11 a.m. CT. Keep up with the action at www.nhra.com.
Quotes in this piece provided by the NHRA.
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