MADISON, Ill – I thought that the times laid down on Friday night at the World Wide Technology Raceway would be the ones that set the top half of the ladders in the Nitro division in the NHRA Drag Racing Series this weekend. Instead, I was way off.
Saturday’s conditions were ripe for quick times too, with both Mike Salinas and John Force laying down hot passes this afternoon to earn the No. 1 qualifying spots for Sunday’s AAA Midwest Nationals.
The track announced on Saturday that four the fourth straight year, a capacity crowd will be on hand to witness the second race of the Countdown for the Championship on Sunday. Those fans in attendance will be treated to a thrilling show.
In Funny Car, Force ran a 3.842 ET (334.40 mph) on his final pass en route to his fourth top qualifying spot of the season and 159th of his career. This is Force’s first pole since Bristol (nine races ago). Despite that, the 70 year old hasn’t shown that his first round qualifying spot has mattered. He’s advanced to the final round in each of the last two races and three of the last four overall.
Force, is eyeing more on Sunday after improving from third yesterday to fifth after Q3 to the pole in Q4.
He will be lined up against Terry Haddock in the first round. The winner of that matchup will faceoff against JR Todd and Jack Beckman. This is Beckman’s worst starting spot since Seattle as he has three top three qualifiers in the last five races. For Todd, this is his fifth time he’s qualified either ninth, 10th or 11th in his last seven tries.
Beckman, was fourth on Friday night.
Robert Hight went from first on Friday to fourth on Saturday as he will contest against Bob Bode in Round 1. They’ll face the winner of Ron Capps and Blake Alexander. This will be Capps’ third straight top five qualifier while Hight has seven consecutive top six qualifying spots.
The scariest moment of the day came when Tim Wilkerson’s car exploded just prior to reaching the finish line sending debris everywhere. Wilkerson, climbed out unscathed and was the 11th qualifier this weekend.
Mike Salinas went to the pole in Q3 with a time of 3.687 ET (330.55 mph). It was Salinas’ fifth No. 1 qualifier of the season. He also has two wins in 2019 too, one of which came from the pole too.
Salinas, will matchup against No. 16 Cameron Ferre in Round 1. They’ll face the winner of Clay Millican and Terry McMillen in Round 2.
The lineup was completely changed from Friday night’s times. At the end of the night on Friday, points leader Doug Kalitta was standing P1 in front of the Torrence’s (Billy then Steve). Austin Prock was fourth.
At the end of the day Saturday, they ended up 10th, second, fifth and third respectively. Antron Brown fell from sixth to 11th. Brittany Force who had won three straight No. 1 qualifiers entering this weekend went from 15th to fourth and was the biggest leaper.
No. 16 Cameron Ferre vs. No. 1 Mike Salinas
No. 9 Terry McMillen vs. No. 8 Clay Millican
No. 12 Scott Palmer vs. No. 5 Steve Torrence
No. 13 Pat Dakin vs. No. 4 Brittany Force
No. 11 Antron Brown vs. No. 6 Leah Pritchett
No. 14 TJ Zizzo vs. No. 3 Austin Prock
No. 10 Doug Kalitta vs. No. 7 Richie Crampton
No. 15 Wurtzel vs. No. 2 Billy Torrence
No. 16 Terry Haddock vs. No. 1 John Force
No. 9 Jack Beckman vs. No. 8 JR Todd
No. 12 Blake Alexander vs. No. 5 Ron Capps
No. 13 Bob Bode vs. No. 4 Robert Hight
No. 11 Tim Wilkerson vs. No. 6 Jonnie Lindberg
No. 14 Cruz Pedregon vs. No. 3 Bob Tasca III
No. 10 Shawn Langdon vs. No. 7 Tommy Johnson Jr.
No. 15 Jim Campbell vs. No. 2 Matt Hagan