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Birthday Girl Brittany Force Sits P1 At Route 66

| , RacinToday.com Saturday, July 9 2016
Brittany Force is on the provisional pole at Route 66 Dragway in Joliet, Ill. (Photo courtesy of the NHRA)

Brittany Force is on the provisional pole at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Ill. (Photo courtesy of the NHRA)

Top Fuel driver Brittany Force celebrated her 30th birthday Friday by leading a parade of track-record qualifying performances during the opening sessions of time trials for the 19th annual K&N Filters Route 66 NHRA Nationals in Joliet, Ill.

Ron Capps (Funny Car), Shane Gray (Pro Stock) and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also were provisional leaders at the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event at Route 66 Raceway near Chicago.

Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel), Tommy Johnson Jr. (Funny Car), Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) and Hector Arana Jr. (Pro Stock Motorcycle) are the defending event winners.

Force, a two-time winner this season, posted the fourth-quickest 1,000-foot Top Fuel elapsed time in history via a track-record 3.692-second run at 325.69 mph in her Monster Energy dragster.

 “I was shocked that we ran that because it was such a big jump from what we ran earlier,” said Force, who improved from third to first in the qualifying order. “I got out and thanked my team, crew chief (Brian Husen) and Alan Johnson (consultant). They’re the ones who make it happen and it really is a team effort. To run a number like that and be No. 1 is exactly where we want to be, and it’s the absolute best birthday present ever.”

 Point-leader Doug Kalitta, a three-time winner this season, sits second in his Mac Tools dragster with a 3.732-second run at a track record speed of 330.55 mph. Shawn Langdon, the 2013 world champion who enters this event riding a two-race winning streak, was third in his Sandvik/Red Fuel dragster at 3.739-seconds and 327.19 mph. Chicago native Schumacher, a five-time winner at this track and an eight-time world champ, sits fourth in his U.S. Army dragster at 3.744-seconds and 326.63 mph.

Capps, who has won three of the last four races and earned four pole positions this season in Funny Car, continued the red-hot performance by covering the 1,000-foot distance with a track-record time of 3.888-seconds at 328.78 in his NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger R/T.

“Man, I am loving this right now, it’s so much fun,” said Capps, the series point-leader. “I’m so proud of (crew chief) Rahn Tobler and what we’ve done. When we left Topeka we were close, but Rahn and the guys worked so hard between races to give us what we’ve needed and in New Hampshire it just showed and we’ve been able to keep it going from there.”

Local favorite Tim Wilkerson, of Springfield, Ill., was second in his Levi, Ray & Shoup Ford Mustang, clocking a 3.894-second run at a track-record speed of 330.23 mph. Robert Hight, the 2009 world champion, qualified third in his Auto Club Chevy Camaro SS at 3.894-seconds and 325.22 mph. Three-time Chicago winner Matt Hagan, a two-time world champion, is fourth at 3.895-seconds and 330.07 mph in his Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger.

 Gray momentarily broke the stranglehold Ken Black Racing teammates Jason Line and Greg Anderson have enjoyed over the Pro Stock class by posting the day’s quickest run. Gray powered his Valvoline/Nova Services Chevy Camaro to a quarter-mile time of 6.578-seconds at 209.43 mph to pace the 16-car field.

 “I think we’re catching up, we just need to find the consistency to go and repeat what we did tonight, tomorrow,” Gray said. “It showed tonight that we’ve got it. We’re capable. I’ve got a wonderful group of guys from (crew chief) Dave Connolly on down and great guys in the engine shop. My dad (retired Funny Car driver Johnny Gray) has supported this deal for seven years and we couldn’t do it without him for sure. Everything is starting to come around and it’s actually fun to be at the racetrack.”

 Bo Butner trailed Gray with a 6.596-second pass at 210.21 mph in his Jim Butner Auto Camaro. Series leader Line, a two-time world champion, was third in his Summit Racing Equipment Camaro with a 6.599-second pass at 210.01 mph. Anderson, a four-time world champion, is fourth at 6.610-seconds and 209.30 mph in his Summit Camaro.

 In Pro Stock Motorcycle, two-time world champion Smith set a quarter-mile track-record time of 6.842-seconds at 195.51 mph.

“Our Victory Gunner is running strong,” Smith said. “We’ve done a lot of work and did a lot of testing. We’ve had a lot of gremlins and bugs that have bit us this year. When we qualify we are fast. We’ve been very, very good when we’ve gone down the track and hopefully it’ll stand up and be No. 1 tomorrow. I know it’s supposed to be cooler, but we’re going to swap motors tomorrow. We have a good piece here and we’ll put it back in on Sunday if we need to.”

 Veteran rider Steve Johnson qualified second aboard his RaceTheVote.com Suzuki at 6.854-seconds and 195.76 mph and was followed by 2010 world champ LE Tonglet, who posted a 6.865-second pass at 195.82 mph aboard his Nitro Fish Suzuki. Point-leader Eddie Krawiec, a three-time world champion, sits sixth on his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson.

 Qualifying continues Saturday afternoon to set the fields for Sunday’s 11 a.m. eliminations. Fox Sports 1 will televise two hours of qualifying coverage Saturday at 10 p.m. (EDT). The network will air three hours of live finals coverage at 2 p.m. (EDT) on Sunday.

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Friday’s qualifying results after the first two of four rounds of time trials for the 19th annual K&N Route 66 NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway, 13th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.  Qualifying will continue Saturday for Sunday’s final eliminations:

Top Fuel _ 1. Brittany Force, 3.692-seconds, 326.87 mph; 2. Doug Kalitta, 3.732, 330.55; 3. Shawn Langdon, 3.739, 327.19; 4. Tony Schumacher, 3.744, 326.63; 5. J.R. Todd, 3.748, 320.43; 6. Steve Torrence, 3.748, 321.04; 7. Antron Brown, 3.753, 319.37; 8. Richie Crampton, 3.753, 311.56; 9. Leah Pritchett, 3.811, 321.50; 10. Pat Dakin, 3.823, 317.79; 11. Terry McMillen, 3.940, 309.56; 12. T.J. Zizzo, 3.942, 248.98.

Not Qualified _ 13. Clay Millican, 4.245, 200.65; 14. Kyle Wurtzel, 4.526, 171.29; 15. Chris Karamesines, 4.623, 176.77; 16. Luigi Novelli, 9.495, 81.81.

 Funny Car _ 1. Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 3.888, 328.78; 2. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 3.894, 330.23; 3. Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 3.894, 325.22; 4. Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.895, 330.07; 5. Courtney Force, Camaro, 3.895, 328.06; 6. Alexis DeJoria, Toyota Camry, 3.910, 321.58; 7. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 3.921, 325.45; 8. Del Worsham, Camry, 3.930, 324.20; 9. Jack Beckman, Charger, 3.958, 326.87; 10. John Force, Camaro, 3.979, 312.93; 11. Chad Head, Camry, 3.982, 315.34; 12. Brian Stewart, Mustang, 4.075, 309.70.

Not Qualified _ 13. John Hale, 4.083, 315.42; 14. Bob Tasca III, 4.091, 240.81; 15. Justin Schriefer, 4.303, 297.29; 16. Cruz Pedregon, 4.585, 179.95; 17. Bob Bode, 4.850, 164.41.

Pro Stock _ 1. Shane Gray, Chevy Camaro, 6.578, 209.43; 2. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.596, 210.21; 3. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.599, 210.01; 4. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.610, 209.30; 5. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.616, 209.07; 6. Allen Johnson, Dodge Dart, 6.620, 208.75; 7. Erica Enders, Dart, 6.623, 208.46; 8. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.626, 208.36; 9. Jeg Coughlin Jr., Dart, 6.637, 207.82; 10. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.645, 207.08; 11. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.666, 208.07; 12. Kenny Delco, Camaro, 6.720, 204.85.

Not Qualified _ 13. Dave River, 6.773, 203.86; 14. Kevin Lawrence, 6.782, 204.01; 15. Mark Hogan, 6.802, 202.88; 16. Charlie Westcott Jr., 6.805, 202.88; 17. Alan Prusiensky, 13.227, 82.05.

Pro Stock Motorcycle _ 1. Matt Smith, Victory, 6.842, 195.51; 2. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.854, 195.76; 3. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.865, 195.82; 4. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.879, 194.10; 5. Chip Ellis, Buell, 6.885, 196.39; 6. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.889, 193.82; 7. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.894, 193.90; 8. Hector Arana Jr., Buell, 6.896, 196.24; 9. Cory Reed, Buell, 6.920, 195.08; 10. Hector Arana, Buell, 6.930, 196.36; 11. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.931, 194.02; 12. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 6.945, 195.25.

Not Qualified _ 13. Scotty Pollacheck, 6.951, 194.16; 14. Michael Phillips, 6.955, 195.22; 15. Michael Ray, 6.959, 194.27; 16. Angie Smith, 6.987, 191.87; 17. Angelle Sampey, 7.001, 193.13; 18. Shawn Gann, 7.130, 187.94; 19. Lance Bonham, 7.309, 183.22; 20. Tyler Fisher, 7.849, 125.13; 21. Melissa Surber, 10.553, 78.73.

| , RacinToday.com Saturday, July 9 2016
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