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Q1 Goes To The Gals at Four-Wides

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, May 15 2021

NASCAR driver Kyle Busch, left, is presented with a “Wally” trophy from NHRA driver J.R. Todd in Concord, N.C. on Friday. (RacinToday photo by Deb Williams)

CONCORD, N.C. –First round nitro qualifying for this weekend’s NGK NTK NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway turned into ladies night Friday with Brittany Force and Alexis DeJoria leading the Top Fuel and Funny Car fields, respectively.

Force recorded a track record 3.662-second run, 333.08 mph. That puts her in position to snatch her second No. 1 qualifying spot this season and the 22nd of her career. The second and third qualifying rounds are scheduled for Saturday afternoon when temperatures are expected to be in the low 70s, resulting in a hotter track.

“The four-wide race can be tough and tricky, and I just have to keep my focus,” said Force, the first woman to win a nitro Four-Wide Nationals event. “(Crew chief David) Grubnic said we were going to have a killer run.”

Three-time NHRA Top Fuel champion Steve Torrence was second quickest with a 3.683-second pass, 316.97 mph. Leah Pruett rounded out the top three in her Don Schumacher Racing ride with an E.T. of 3.718 seconds, 324.59 mph.

DeJoria, who returned to Funny Car competition last year after a two-year hiatus, was the only driver of 16 to make a three-second run at 3.930 seconds. Second quickest was Mike McIntire at 4.019 seconds. However, McIntire recorded top speed for the round at 313.15 mph.  Dave Richards rounded out the top three with a 6.857-second run, 90.88 mph. 

Veteran Greg Anderson led the Pro Stock field with a 6.524-second run, while Joey Gladstone paced the 22 Pro Stock Motorcycle riders with a 6.763-second pass. In Pro Stock, Matt Hartford recorded top speed at 211.06 mph, while Matt Smith went 201.10 mph in Pro Stock Motorcycle. 

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Two-time NASCAR Cup champion Kyle Busch admitted Friday he would like to attempt some drag racing, but noted it would have to be approved by his wife and NASCAR team owner Joe Gibbs.

“I don’t think either one of them is going to allow me to jump into anything these guys (Shawn Langdon, Doug Kalitta and J.R. Todd) drive (Funny Car and Top Fuel),” Busch said. “I’d love to try it, whether it’s a launch or a 100 foot or eventually a full run.”

On Friday afternoon, Busch warmed up J.R. Todd’s Funny Car.

“It was a unique experience,” said Busch, who noted the last time he attended a NHRA event was when he was a teenager and his dad was a Mac Tools distributor. 

“I probably only got about 2 percent of what they have to go through for a run. Started on gas, that was OK, everything was fine and then we pulled the nitro lever. That’s where it all went bad. Everybody was fine, but the driver seemed to tear up a little bit. It was about a minute and 15-second warmup, but if they had given me another 10 seconds I was going to be out. That was all I had left in me.” 

Busch thought the engine would be louder, but cited the biggest issue for him was the nitro and “everything happening with the fumes and the gases and all that sort of stuff.” 

“It’s a COVID killer for sure,” Busch said about the nitro. “I’m clear now, boys.”   

In addition to Busch receiving his nitro initiation, Todd gave the NASCAR driver a Wally trophy identical to the one he won in March at the Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla. The Gatornationals marked the first event in which Busch’s Rowdy Energy drink was affiliated with Kalitta Motorsports.

“Now, I have something to do with winning NHRA races, too,” Busch said with a smile. “I will put this in the trophy case that has a trophy win from every single NASCAR track.”

 

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, May 15 2021
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