Brittany Force Sets Record In Concord

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, April 30 2023

Brittany Force recorded the quickest run in zMAX Dragway history on Saturday, as the two-time/reigning Top Fuel world champion rocketed to P1 during qualifying for the 13th annual Circle K NHRA Four-Wide Nationals in Concord, N.C.

Force covered the 1,000-foot distance in 3.651-seconds at 336.32 mph to break her own track record. The pass gave Brit her third No. 1 spot this year and 45th of her career in pursuit of her first victory of 2023. After struggling in the opening qualifying session, Force and her team responded with three strong runs heading into Sunday’s eliminations. She will compete in a first-round quad also featuring Doug Foley, Las Vegas four-wide winner/three-time world champ Antron Brown and Clay Millican.

“That was an incredible run, it was more than our team expected,” said Force, driver of the dragster fielded by John Force Racing. “Three of the four runs were solid, and hopefully, that will carry over and we’ll go some rounds (Sunday). We’ve had success here in the past and I’ve always loved this track _ but four-wide is tricky. That’s what makes it rewarding.

“We were doing some testing and finished that (Friday), and that was part of our game plan coming in. We kind of expected that it might not go down there that first run, but it got down there on the second run and today was a whole new set-up. (Crew chief) David Grubnic always wants more. He expects the best and he pushes hard; he wants to win them all. I think that motivates all of us, and we all want to win together.”

Justin Ashley qualified second at 3.662 and 332.84 and Leah Pruett jumped to third with a 3.678 at 334.65 during the final session. In all, six drivers dipped into the 3.60s during qualifying.

Bob Tasca III (Funny Car), Matt Hartford (Pro Stock) and Gaige Herrera (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also qualified No. 1 at the fifth of 21 races during the 2023 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season.

Eliminations for the Circle K NHRA Four-Wide Nationals will begin at noon (EDT) Sunday. Fox Sports 1 will air three hours of same-day/delayed coverage beginning at 5 p.m.

In Ha-Ha Car, Bob Tasca showcased a strong performance Saturday, vaulting to No. 1 in his Ford Mustang with a 1,000-foot run in 3.852-seconds at 324.59 mph. Tasca posted his second No. 1 effort this season and 11th in his career.

After a tough loss in the opening quad at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway two weeks ago, Tasca is looking for redemption and his first victory of 2023. The longtime Ford loyalist will open in a quad that includes Dave Richards, Tim Wilkerson and three-time/reigning Funny Car world champ Ron Capps.

“I said leaving Gainesville, the first five races of the season (will be) really critical to show performance,” Tasca said. “We’ve had two No. 1 qualifiers in the first five races and we haven’t won a race yet, but we’ve been working on getting this car to run really hard and compete. Come championship time, if you’re not running mid- to low-3.80s, you’re not running for a championship. That’s just the hard reality out here. 

“That was the run we’ve been looking for since we put this together. We’re five races in with a completely new team and complete new package, and we’re racing against guys with thousands of runs and a plethora of data. We don’t have that yet as a team, and yet we’ve still competed at a very high level. That gives a lot of confidence. To have this under our belt, I’m way ahead of where I was the last three years. I’m very pleased at this point, but I really want to get a win. My goal was to get a win in the first five races.”

Two-time world champion Cruz Pedregon advanced to No. 2 in the final session with a pass in 3.859-seconds at 330.23 mph, just missing out on his third straight No. 1. Three-time world champ Robert Hight is third at 3.865 and 330.23.

Matt Hartford made a huge move in Pro Stock on Saturday, driving to P1 in his Chevrolet Camaro with a quarter-mile run of 6.538-seconds at 208.52 mph. That speed bump gave Hartford his second straight pole and another opportunity to secure his first victory of the season. Hartford’s opening round quad features David Cuadra in his first Pro Stock start, Deric Kramer and Troy Coughlin Jr., with Hartford now having swept P1 at both four-wide races this season.

“Let me tell you, getting out of here late last night _ none of us were in a good mood,” Hartford said. “We went to bed really disappointed, knowing that we had a car that could go to the pole. But luck was on our side last night, because if we had that failure past the finish-line we wouldn’t be here for this. 

“But we regrouped. Coming out here, we were the first car out, which means we had to pull back some, but we made a good run. We came in this morning with the idea that we could go into the top-five, and that if we made the right run, we could go No. 1. That’s what we did. It’s a rocket ship right now. This is the best car and the best team I’ve ever had, and we just have to capitalize on it.”

Point-leader Dallas Glenn, who has back-to-back wins this season, qualified his Camaro second at 6.553 and 209.07 with Kyle Koretsky third at 6.557 and 208.52.

Gaige Herrera’s dominant start in Pro Stock Motorcycle took another impressive step Saturday via two more solid quarter-mile runs _ including a 6.735-second pass at 201.52 mph aboard his Vance & Hines/Mission Foods Suzuki. That pass allowed Herrera to secure his second straight pole to open the year. His opening round quad includes Marcus Hylton, Ryan Oehler and Kelly Clontz, as Herrera looks to make it two straight Pro Stock Bike wins to start 2023.

“Just being part of this (team), I can’t ask for anything better,” Herrera said. “You’re always trying to improve, always trying to out-do yourself each round, and for us to make that big improvement…Andrew (Hines), our crew chief, has both bikes on rails and it’s showing. It makes me feel good but it puts more pressure on my shoulders. It’s exciting to know I have a top-tier bike and it’s a lot of pressure on me. There is more pressure on me than there is on the bike. The whole team, they have a lot of confidence in their machine. At the end of the day, it’s all on me.”

Herrera’s Vance & Hines teammate _ four-time world champ Eddie Krawiec _ qualified second with a 6.765 at 197.77. Popular veteran Steve Johnson, who has won the Charlotte four-wide race in back-to-back years, is third at 6.804 at 196.27.

Add Bandimere Speedway to the list of drag strips exiting the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series schedule.

NHRA officials and the Bandimere Family jointly announced earlier this week the 2023 Dodge Power Brokers NHRA Mile-High Nationals on July 14-16 at Bandimere Speedway will be the last NHRA national event at the historic track in Morrison, Colo., outside Denver.

Bandimere Speedway opened in 1958. The Bandimere Family has agreed to sell the current property and land. For the past several years, the Bandimere Family also has been proactive in their efforts to locate another possible location in the Denver area where a new facility could be built. They have worked with investors on a possible new track and facility location, with the goal being a short hiatus in the area and eventual continuation of NHRA championship drag racing in Denver.

“Our family has been involved in the automotive business for the past three generations through parts sales and machining, individual racing competition, industry innovations and the operation of our speedway in the beautiful Colorado foothills,” John Bandimere Jr., second-generation owner and operator, said in a news release. “We have been blessed to occupy one of the most unique places in our state and feel that our commitment to the sport is not done yet. It’s part of the fabric of our family’s life and we’re hopeful that another equally unique location can be found to continue the legacy that was started by my parents over six decades ago.”

The 2023 season marks the 65th anniversary of Bandimere Speedway, with a special celebration set to take place during the 43rd and final Dodge Power Brokers NHRA Mile-High Nationals on July 14-16.

In addition to the Bandimere Family, NHRA’s leadership team is continuing conversations with current NHRA member tracks not on the Camping World Drag Racing Series circuit to host future national events, including replacing the Denver date on the 2024 schedule.

Last year, Houston Raceway Park in Baytown, Texas, closed after its annual and spring race in April. In March, Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Chandler, Ariz., played host to what was billed as its final NHRA national event. 

“We at the NHRA want to thank the Bandimere Family for their remarkable commitment to drag racing over the past 65 years,” NHRA President Glen Cromwell said in a news release. “NHRA drag racing at Bandimere Speedway has provided so many incredible moments for our drivers, race teams, fans and partners. We look forward to celebrating the 65th anniversary this year to close-out this chapter at Bandimere Speedway and remain optimistic about future opportunities to have NHRA drag racing stay in the Denver area and to continue to work with the Bandimere Family in the future.”

For more than four decades, the facility affectionately known as “Thunder Mountain” has offered one of the most unique challenges on the NHRA tour. With competitors racing at an elevation of nearly 6,000 feet, the thin air of the nearby Rocky Mountains affects everything from engine tune-ups to aerodynamics, posing a major test each year for drivers and tuners.

Over the years the Bandimere Family has made numerous improvements to the track, including a major renovation in 1988. Before the 2008 season, the entire track surface was redone, creating an all-concrete surface along with installation of a cooling system for the first 330-feet to enhance traction.

Sixteen-time Funny Car world champion John Force’s eight wins at Bandimere is most among all NHRA drivers, while Bob Glidden _ the late, 10-time world champion _ and Allen Johnson’s seven wins are tops in Pro Stock. Joe Amato’s six wins are first in the Top Fuel ranks and Andrew Hines’ five Pro Stock Motorcycle victories lead the two-wheel class. Last year’s NHRA Mile-High Nationals winners were Leah Pruett (Top Fuel), Robert Hight (Funny Car), Matt Hartford (Pro Stock) and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle).

To purchase tickets to the 43rd and final Dodge Power Brokers NHRA Mile-High Nationals on July 14-16 at Bandimere Speedway, fans can visit www.bandimere.com.


First-round professional pairings Sunday for the 13th annual Circle K NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMax Dragway in Concord, N.C., the fifth of 21 events in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series. Pairings based upon results in qualifying, which ended Saturday. DNQs listed below pairings:

Top Fuel _ 1. Brittany Force, 3.651-seconds, 336.32 mph vs. 16. Doug Foley, 3.803, 323.89 vs. 8. Antron Brown, 3.711, 330.47 vs. 9. Clay Millican, 3.712, 331.69; 2. Justin Ashley, 3.662, 332.84 vs. 15. Jacob McNeal, 3.793, 320.81 vs. 7. Austin Prock, 3.701, 332.34 vs. 10. Mike Salinas, 3.717, 333.74; 3. Leah Pruett, 3.678, 334.65 vs. 14. Pat Dakin, 3.791, 323.66 vs. 6. Doug Kalitta, 3.699, 331.69 vs. 11. Shawn Langdon, 3.727, 332.18; 4. Steve Torrence, 3.679, 335.32 vs. 13. Dan Mercier, 3.752, 318.09 vs. 5. Josh Hart, 3.689, 329.75 vs. 12. Tony Schumacher, 3.741, 326.79. 

Did Not Qualify _ 17. Lex Joon, 3.918, 265.12; 18. Keith Murt, 4.057, 309.84. 

Funny Car _ 1. Bob Tasca III, Ford Mustang, 3.852, 324.59 vs. 16. Dave Richards, Mustang, 7.537, 87.71 vs. 8. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 3.899, 330.55 vs. 9. Ron Capps, Toyota Supra, 3.899, 330.07; 2. Cruz Pedregon, Dodge Charger, 3.859, 330.23 vs. 15. John Smith, Charger, 6.695, 104.71 vs. 7. John Force, Chevy Camaro, 3.898, 772.00 vs. 10. Blake Alexander, Mustang, 3.914, 324.05; 3. Robert Hight, Camaro, 3.865, 330.31 vs. 14. Alex Laughlin, Charger, 4.143, 290.19 vs. 6. J.R. Todd, Supra, 3.888, 334.40 vs. 11. Mike McIntire, Toyota Camry, 3.981, 318.54; 4. Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.866, 328.46 vs. 13. Dale Creasy Jr., Charger, 4.113, 290.88 vs. 5. Alexis DeJoria, Supra, 3.876, 334.65 vs. 12. Chad Green, Mustang, 4.011, 313.95.

Pro Stock _ 1. Matt Hartford, Chevy Camaro, 6.538, 209.49 vs. 16. David Cuadra, Ford Mustang, 6.596, 208.10 vs. 8. Deric Kramer, Camaro, 6.566, 209.95 vs. 9. Troy Coughlin Jr., Camaro, 6.571, 209.72; 2. Dallas Glenn, Camaro, 6.553, 209.20 vs. 15. Fernando Cuadra Jr., Mustang, 6.592, 208.94 vs. 7. Camrie Caruso, Camaro, 6.561, 209.79 vs. 10. Mason McGaha, Camaro, 6.574, 209.04; 3. Kyle Koretsky, Camaro, 6.557, 208.52 vs. 14. Jerry Tucker, Camaro, 6.589, 208.97 vs. 6. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.560, 208.91 vs. 11. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.576, 209.14; 4. Cristian Cuadra, Mustang, 6.558, 209.72 vs. 13. Aaron Stanfield, Camaro, 6.584, 209.01 vs. 5. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.559, 209.23 vs. 12. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.582, 209.62. 

Did Not Qualify _ 17. Shane Tucker, 6.598, 208.68; 18. Fernando Cuadra, 6.611, 207.50; 19. Larry Morgan, 6.624, 207.53; 20. Val Smeland, 6.628, 207.21; 21. Kenny Delco, 6.646, 208.01; 22. Alan Prusiensky, 6.674, 206.10; 23. Brandon Miller, 6.721, 205.88. 

Pro Stock Motorcycle _ 1. Gaige Herrera, Suzuki, 6.735, 201.52 vs. 16. Marcus Hylton, 7.109, 187.63 vs. 8. Ryan Oehler, EBR, 6.858, 197.05 vs. 9. Kelly Clontz, Suzuki, 6.870, 195.68; 2. Eddie Krawiec, Suzuki, 6.765, 200.77 vs. 15. Ron Tornow, Victory, 7.026, 191.13 vs. 7. Hector Arana Jr, EBR, 6.825, 200.80 vs. 10. Angie Smith, EBR, 6.874, 198.00; 3. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.804, 196.27 vs. 14. John Hall, Buell, 6.949, 195.22 vs. 6. Joey Gladstone, Suzuki, 6.821, 197.94 vs. 11. Jianna Evaristo, Suzuki, 6.877, 196.79; 4. Matt Smith, Suzuki, 6.806, 199.26 vs. 13. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.923, 191.38 vs. 5. Chase Van Sant, Suzuki, 6.806, 199.29 vs. 12. Marc Ingwersen, EBR, 6.901, 195.03. 

Did Not Qualify _ 17. Chris Bostick, 7.458, 180.77.


March 9-12 _ 54th annual Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals, Gainesville (Fla.) Raceway: Mike Salinas (Top Fuel), Matt Hagan (Funny Car), Troy Coughlin Jr. (Pro Stock), Gaige Herrera (Pro Stock Motorcycle), Justin Bond (Pro Modified).

March 24-26 _ 38th annual NHRA Arizona Nationals, Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park, Chandler, Ariz.: Justin Ashley (Top Fuel), Robert Hight (Funny Car), Camrie Caruso (Pro Stock).

March 30-April 2 _ 63rd annual Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals presented by ProtectTheHarvest.com, Pomona Raceway, Pomona, Calif.: Justin Ashley (Top Fuel), Matt Hagan (Funny Car), Dallas Glenn (Pro Stock).

April 14-16 _ 23rd annual NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway: Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Matt Hagan (Funny Car), Dallas Glenn (Pro Stock).

April 28-30 _ 13th annual NHRA Four-Wide Nationals, zMAX Dragway, Concord, N.C.

May 19-21 _ 23rd annual Route 66 NHRA Nationals presented by PEAK Performance, Route 66 Raceway, Joliet, Ill.

June 2-4 _ 10th annual NHRA New England Nationals, New England Dragway, Epping, N.H.

June 9-11 _ 22nd annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals, Bristol Dragway, Bristol, Tenn.

June 22-25 _ 17th annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals, Summit Motorsports Park, Norwalk, Ohio

July 14-16 _ 43rd annual Dodge Power Brokers NHRA Mile-High Nationals, Bandimere Speedway, Morrison, Colo.

July 21-23 _ 34th annual Flav-R-Pac NHRA Northwest Nationals, Pacific Raceways, Kent, Wash.

July 28-30 _ 35th annual DENSO NHRA Sonoma Nationals, Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway

Aug. 11-13 _ 34th annual Menards NHRA Nationals presented by PetArmor, Heartland Motorsports Park, Topeka, Kan.

Aug. 17-20 _ 41st annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, Brainerd (Minn.) International Raceway

Aug. 30-Sept. 4 _ 69th annual Dodge Power Brokers NHRA U.S. Nationals, Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park, Clermont, Ind. The event also will include the Pep Boys NHRA Funny Car All-Star Callout.


Sept. 14-17 _ 38th annual Pep Boys NHRA Nationals, Maple Grove Raceway, Reading, Pa.

Sept. 22-24 _ 15th annual NHRA Carolina Nationals, zMAX Dragway, Concord, N.C.

Sept. 29-Oct. 1 _ 12th annual NHRA Midwest Nationals, World Wide Technology Raceway, Madison, Ill.

Oct. 12-15 _ 38th annual Texas NHRA FallNationals, Texas Motorplex, Ennis

Oct. 26-29 _ 23rd annual NHRA Nevada Nationals, The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Nov. 9-12 _ 58th annual NHRA Finals, Pomona Raceway, Pomona, Calif.

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, April 30 2023
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