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Hight Rolls To Provisonal Pole In Joliet

| , RacinToday.com Saturday, July 8 2017

Robert Hight was fastest in Funny Car qualifying in Joliet on Friday. (File photo courtesy of the NHRA)


Robert Hight channeled the prescience of “Carnac the Magnificent” en route to earning the provisional Funny Car pole Friday after the first two rounds of time trials for the Fallen Patriots NHRA Route 66 Nationals in Joliet, Ill.

Hight, of John Force Racing, set both ends of the Route 66 Raceway 1,000-foot track record _ 3.851-seconds at 334.73 mph _ to lead the 17-car Funny Car field.

“I called it (Thursday) at the press conference that track records were going to fall,” said Hight, driver of the Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro SS. “This is a great racing surface. But a lot of it is the advancement of Funny Car over the last two years. There’s hardly a racetrack that we go to where we don’t set records. It’s exciting. The fans look for those big numbers, and we’re trying to go harder.”

Hight has qualified No. 1 at the Chicago-area track twice, in 2005 and 2010, but still is looking to earn his first career victory.

“That wasn’t a perfect run for us,” said Hight, the 2009 world champion. “It was slow early and then it didn’t lock the clutch up. The motor was away from it, screaming. If you get that thing where it’s supposed to lock up, this thing will run real fast _ and a lot quicker. Good news is we get another night session so we get another crack at it.”

Qualifying is scheduled to continue Saturday with FOX Sports 1 airing two hours of live qualifying from 5 to 7 p.m. (EDT). FS1 also will air three hours of live finals coverage Sunday starting at 3 p.m.

“Fast Jack” Beckman, the 2012 world champion from Don Schumacher Racing, landed second in Funny Car at 3.856-seconds and 330.23 mph in his Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger R/T. Beckman came within five-thousandths of a second of earning the provisional pole for the team funded by Terry Chandler, who died from brain cancer on the Fourth of July. She was 65.

“That one was for Terry,” Beckman said. “Everyone on her team here is elated with our effort today and it was for Terry. You’d love to be the quickest of the night and have a chance to flex your muscles under the great conditions. We’re extremely happy with the way our Dodge ran. We’re OK with someone only beating us by a few thousands. We did everything we needed to do.”

Beckman won the last race two weeks ago in Norwalk, Ohio, and noted that team-owner Don Schumacher planned to retire the car at the end of June. That decision was solidified when the engine blew up into a fireball as it crossed the finish line for the 26th title in Beckman’s career.

Courtney Force rounded out the top three in preliminary qualifying after a pass in 3.880-seconds at 331.36 mph in her Advance Auto Parts Camaro SS.

Sister and JFR teammate Brittany Force (Top Fuel), Tanner Gray (Pro Stock) and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also emerged as provisional qualifying leaders in their respective categories at the 13th of 24 events on the 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.

Brittany Force will mark her 31st birthday Saturday atop the Top Fuel ladder. The Route 66 Raceway track record-holder in the category, Force set quick time and fast speed in her Monster Energy dragster. Force clocked a 1,000-foot pass of 3.711-seconds at 323.04 mph to jump to the top early in the second session. If her time holds up, it would mark the fifth pole of her career.

“That was a pretty awesome run,” said Force, whose most recent pole came last year at Route 66 in a track record-setting performance. “We struggled during that first run, but in that second run we just went down the track. I’m excited. We’ve had good runs in the evening, and we just need to figure that out for Sunday.”

Force is seeking her first career victory at the track. “All I care about is winning the race,” Force said. “That would be the best gift I could have, standing in winner’s circle with my Monster Energy team. It’s been a while since we were in winner’s circle at Epping (N.H.), so we’re ready to do it again.”

Eight-time world champion Tony Schumacher of DSR sits second after a 3.758-second run at 325.37 mph in his U.S. Army dragster, while 2013 world champ Shawn Langdon is third at 3.759/319.37 in his Global Electronics dragster.

In Pro Stock, Gray holds the provisional top spot after a quarter-mile pass in 6.591-seconds at 208.84 mph in his Gray Motorsports Camaro. The rookie is looking for his second pole of the season.

“My team did a great job of working on my car and I feel like I had a better handle on my car than in Norwalk,” Gray said. “I know we have great horsepower and the guys at the shop put a great car out each week, and if I drive well there’s no reason that I can’t have success like this at each event.”

Four-time world champion Greg Anderson is second after a pass in 6.600-seconds at 209.20 mph in his Summit Racing Equipment Camaro. Drew Skillman is third at 6.605/208.04 in his Ray Skillman Camaro.

Smith finished atop the Pro Stock Motorcycle qualifying order with a quarter-mile elapsed time track record 6.829-seconds at 195.19 mph aboard his Victory. Smith is aiming for his 26th career No. 1 qualifier and second consecutive this season.

“The last two races have been awesome for us, especially getting the No. 1 qualifier in Norwalk the last time out,” said Smith, a two-time world champion. “It’s good to come here and be No. 1 and prove that we could do it again, but I think we’re here to stay this year and we’ll make a run at the championship.”

Scotty Pollacheck is in the No. 2 slot after a run in 6.883-seconds at 193.65 mph aboard his Extended Protection Suzuki. Hector Arana Jr. sits third at 6.884/194.97 aboard his Lucas Oil Buell.


Friday’s qualifying results after the first two of four rounds of time trials for the 20th annual Children of Fallen Patriots NHRA Route 66 Nationals presented by K&N at Route 66 Raceway, 13th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Qualifying will continue Saturday:

Top Fuel _ 1. Brittany Force, 3.711-seconds, 323.04 mph; 2. Tony Schumacher, 3.758, 325.37; 3. Shawn Langdon, 3.759, 319.37; 4. Leah Pritchett, 3.763, 326.48; 5. Antron Brown, 3.766, 328.54; 6. Steve Torrence, 3.778, 319.82; 7. Pat Dakin, 3.835, 321.42; 8. T.J. Zizzo, 3.839, 275.90; 9. Terry McMillen, 3.853, 312.21; 10. Blake Alexander, 3.882, 303.43; 11. Scott Palmer, 3.893, 314.17; 12. Troy Coughlin Jr., 3.932, 262.08; 13. Luigi Novelli, 3.972, 298.67; 14. Kyle Wurtzel, 4.276, 195.96; 15. Doug Kalitta, 4.371, 182.90; 16. Chris Karamesines, 4.690, 165.42.

Not Qualified _17. Clay Millican, 5.011, 142.28.

Funny Car _ 1. Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 3.851, 334.73; 2. Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger, 3.856, 330.23; 3. Courtney Force, Camaro, 3.880, 331.36; 4. Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.895, 332.10; 5. Alexis DeJoria, Toyota Camry, 3.913, 327.98; 6. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 3.913, 326.00; 7. Brian Stewart, Ford Mustang, 3.929, 325.53; 8. Ron Capps, Charger, 3.942, 321.27; 9. John Force, Camaro, 3.943, 321.58; 10. Jonnie Lindberg, Camry, 3.962, 321.81; 11. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 3.967, 320.13; 12. Del Worsham, Camry, 3.975, 324.51; 13. J.R. Todd, Camry, 4.062, 313.15; 14. Jim Campbell, Charger, 4.171, 304.74; 15. Bob Bode, Charger, 4.497, 218.37; 16. Justin Schriefer, Charger, 4.924, 166.85.

Not Qualified _ 17. Tim Wilkerson, 4.936, 154.69.

Pro Stock _ 1. Tanner Gray, Chevy Camaro, 6.591, 208.84; 2. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.600, 209.20; 3. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.605, 208.07; 4. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.614, 209.36; 5. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.620, 209.20; 6. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.620, 208.36; 7. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.631, 208.62; 8. Allen Johnson, Dodge Dart, 6.638, 207.37; 9. Jeg Coughlin Jr., Camaro, 6.647, 208.20; 10. Alan Prusiensky, Dart, 6.657, 207.34; 11. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.701, 207.15; 12. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.708, 208.04; 13. Kenny Delco, Camaro, 6.713, 206.04; 14. Shane Tucker, Camaro, 6.752, 205.51; 15. Mark Hogan, Pontiac GXP, 6.798, 201.73; 16. Val Smeland, Camaro, 6.928, 199.94.

Not Qualified_ 17. Dave River, 14.077, 60.12.

Pro Stock Motorcycle _ 1. Matt Smith, Victory, 6.829, 195.19; 2. Scotty Pollacheck, Suzuki, 6.883, 193.74; 3. Hector Arana Jr., Buell, 6.884, 194.97; 4. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.889, 193.68; 5. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.905, 193.02; 6. Chip Ellis, EBR, 6.934, 190.81; 7. Joey Gladstone, Suzuki, 6.936, 192.03; 8. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.938, 191.19; 9. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.945, 192.80; 10. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.951, 192.85; 11. Melissa Surber, Buell, 6.960, 190.00; 12. Angie Smith, Buell, 6.963, 190.89; 13. Cory Reed, Victory, 6.964, 189.95; 14. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.981, 192.00; 15. Mike Berry, Buell, 6.986, 190.73; 16. Angelle Sampey, Victory, 6.999, 189.76.

Not Qualified _ 17. Ryan Oehler, 7.072, 187.52; 18. Kelly Clontz, 7.112, 189.07; 19. David Hope, 7.129, 185.54; 20. Lance Bonham, 7.212, 184.25; 21. Andie Rawlings, 7.788, 162.31.


| , RacinToday.com Saturday, July 8 2017
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