Tommy Johnson Jr. ran his first career three-second pass in Funny Car to claim the No. 1 qualifier for Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals presented by Super Start Batteries at Route 66 Raceway.
Doug Kalitta (Top Fuel), Allen Johnson (Pro Stock), and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also claimed No. 1 qualifying positions and will lead their respective classes into tomorrow’s 11 a.m. eliminations at the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event.
Tommy Johnson Jr. piloted his Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger to a 3.999-second pass at 317.19 mph to secure the No. 1 seed during the final qualifying session. With the run, Johnson became the 10th Funny Car driver to complete a three-second pass. He will line up against two-time world champ Tony Pedregon in the opening round.
“The conditions out here were difficult,” said Johnson, winner of the Funny Car event in Bristol two weekends ago. “It’s hot and humid. Personally I didn’t think we could do it. But the guys were swinging for the fence; they were going for it.”
Tommy Johnson Jr.
The run gave Johnson his first No. 1 of the season and 10th of his career. He will line up against two-time world champ Tony Pedregon in the opening round.
Del Worsham qualified No. 2 with a 4.023 at 289.76 in his DHL Toyota Camry. He will be paired with Bob Bode in round one. Points leader Robert Hight was the top qualifier after Friday and will race against Jeff Arend as the No. 3 seed. Sixteen-time world champ John Force and daughter Courtney Force round out the top five in Funny Car qualifying. John will open with Alexis DeJoria, and Courtney goes up against Bob Tasca III.
Kalitta drove his Mac Tools dragster to a 3.767-second pass at 327.43 mph to claim the top spot for the fifth time this season. Kalitta saved his best for last, completing the run during the final qualifying session.
“I was sitting back there in the staging lanes, and it was pretty exciting,” said Kalitta, the points leader in Top Fuel. “Everybody that was running seemed to be going low. I think the fans got a good session out of that.”
Kalitta now has 41 career Top Fuel No. 1 qualifiers. Kalitta will race Pat Dakin in the first round of eliminations on Sunday.
Seven-time Top Fuel world champion and recent Epping winner Tony Schumacher qualified second with a 3.775 at 325.61 at his home track in the U.S. Army dragster. Schumacher, the defending winner of the event, will battle Epping semifinalist Clay Millican in round one. 2012 world champ Antron Brown qualified third and will race Billy Torrence. Brittany Force and Steve Torrence round out the top-five qualifiers and face Terry McMillen and Shawn Langdon, respectively.
In Pro Stock, Allen Johnson recorded his third No. 1 qualifier of the season and 34th of his career following his Friday time of 6.485 at 212.79 in his Magneti Marelli Dodge Dart. He will open eliminations against Mark Hogan.
“Conditions today weren’t as favorable as they were last night; it was a bit warmer and more humid, but the track stayed awesome,” said Johnson, who has three wins this season. “Our Mopar crew did a heck of a job, and we were No. 1 in three of four runs. We really like racing in these conditions.”
Category leader Erica Enders-Stevens is the No. 2 qualifier for the second weekend in a row following her 6.594 at 209.65 in her Elite Motorsports Chevy Camaro. The run booked Enders-Stevens a first-round appearance with Dave River. Reigning series champion Jeg Couglin Jr. ran a 6.604 at 209.30 to claim the third seed and a first-round matchup with Larry Morgan. Pomona winner Jason Line and recent Bristol and Epping No. 1 qualifier Shane Gray qualified fourth and fifth.
Krawiec ran a track record time of 6.872 at 194.86 on his Screamin’ Eagle/Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson during Friday qualifying to grab the top spot.
“Today it was a little hotter and more humid, but the track was great,” said Krawiec. “My hat’s off to NHRA and the Route 66 Raceway crew. They did a great job with the racing surface.”
It is Krawiec’s fourth No. 1 in a row and 18th of his career. He will face LE Tonglet in the first round.
Hector Arana Jr. earned the second spot with his 6.941 run at 192.91 on his Lucas Oil Buell. His reward is a first-round pairing with Gainesville winner Steve Johnson. Scotty Pollacheck, reigning world champion Matt Smith, and Hector Arana Sr. round out the top five.
Friday: Force, Hight, Johnson, Krawiec lead Chicago fields