Force Chasing Four-Wide Repeat From Pole

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, May 1 2022

Funny Car’s 16-time champion John Force will begin Sunday’s Four-Wide Nationals finals from P1. (Photo courtesy of the NHRA)

By Deb Williams | Senior Writer

CONCORD, N.C. – Five days before John Force’s 73rd birthday the 16-time NHRA Funny Car champion earned his 164th No. 1 qualifying position while 27-year-old Justin Ashley claimed his first in Top Fuel Saturday during preparations for the NHRA Circle K Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway.

Between the two age-wise, 51-year-old Angelle Sampey secured her 54th career No. 1 in Pro Stock Motorcycle with an elapsed time of 6.714 seconds, 201.16 mph. She was one of four PSM riders to surpass 200 mph during the two days of qualifying. Steve Johnson, Friday’s provisional No. 1 and last weekend’s winner at Houston, moved into the second spot after going 6.732, 200.05 mph. Point leader Karen Stoffer goes off third, claiming that position with a 6.763 ET, 199.79 mph.

“Actually, that .71 run I chopped the throttle right before the finish line,” Sampey said. “There was a little bit more mile per hour in it. I don’t know if it would have increased or decreased the ET, but it’s possible. It’s just a strong motorcycle. 

“We were a little late on this No. 1 qualifier. We should have had it in Gainesville, we should have had it in Houston, and we definitely got it here, thank goodness. I knew my Suzuki had it in it, but I’ve been most of the problem. The confidence is definitely coming and we’re learning the bike together. It’s all coming together.”

With hotter temperatures for Saturday’s third and fourth qualifying rounds, Force’s track-record run of 3.850 seconds, 334.24 mph that he posted Friday night couldn’t be touched.

“That Chevrolet Camaro is fast. I wouldn’t change it for the world,” said Force, who won last year’s four-wide event. “The aerodynamics on it, it sticks you to the ground. I can see out of it good. We’ve got things starting to go in the right direction. I’ve got all of my experience and that’s what I’m going to throw at them tomorrow. I don’t care how fast you are, how good you care, how many races you’ve won. I’m taking John Force to the starting line tomorrow … and we’re going to get some damage done.”

Funny Car point leader and Houston winner Matt Hagan recorded the second fastest ET with a 3.867 pass, 330.55 mph on Friday. Defending Funny Car champion Ron Capps, making his Toyota debut this weekend, rounded out the top three with a 3.873 ET, 332.02 mph.

Like Force, the 3.669-second ET, 331.77 mph Ashley posted Friday night withstood Saturday’s challenges. He secured his first career No. 1 position at the same dragway where he made his Top Fuel debut in 2019.

“We’ve accomplished a lot in a short period of time,” Ashley said. “We usually use Q3 to do a little bit of testing and really just race the race track. I think it was more important for us to be able to set ourselves up for tomorrow.”

 Leah Pruett, who has struggled this season with her new team, qualified second with an ET of 3.686, 327.51 mph, while four-time and defending event winner Steve Torrence secured the third spot with a 3.694 ET. Austin Prock broke the track Top Fuel speed record with a 333.58 mph run in the final round. Point leader Brittany Force, who’s going for her third consecutive victory, qualified seventh with a 3.716 ET, 303.57 mph.


CONCORD, N.C. — First-round pairings for professional eliminations Sunday for the 12th annual Circle K NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMax Dragway, the sixth of 22 events in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series. Pairings based on results in qualifying, which ended Saturday. DNQs listed below pairings.
Top Fuel — 1. Justin Ashley, 3.669 seconds, 331.77 mph vs. 16. Cameron Ferre, 3.854, 319.45 vs. 8. Austin Prock, 3.719, 333.58 vs. 9. Antron Brown, 3.729, 329.10; 2. Leah Pruett, 3.686, 329.10 vs. 15. Tony Schumacher, 3.831, 319.98 vs. 7. Brittany Force, 3.716, 332.92 vs. 10. Spencer Massey, 3.749, 325.53; 3. Steve Torrence, 3.694, 329.02 vs. 14. Shawn Langdon, 3.798, 322.50 vs. 6. Josh Hart, 3.715, 329.50 vs. 11. Clay Millican, 3.756, 325.53; 4. Doug Kalitta, 3.700, 327.43 vs. 13. Alex Laughlin, 3.777, 317.27 vs. 5. Mike Salinas, 3.706, 329.10 vs. 12. Doug Foley, 3.774, 306.60.
Did Not Qualify: 17. Kyle Wurtzel, 3.854, 317.72; 18. Krista Baldwin, 3.924, 297.88.
Funny Car — 1. John Force, Chevy Camaro, 3.850, 334.24 vs. Bye vs. vs. 8. Bob Tasca III, Ford Mustang, 3.909, 329.34 vs. 9. Alexis DeJoria, Toyota Supra, 3.936, 328.38; 2. Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 3.867, 330.55 vs. 15. Mike McIntire, Toyota Camry, 4.340, 215.62 vs. 7. Blake Alexander, Mustang, 3.894, 325.37 vs. 10. Paul Lee, Charger, 3.937, 325.30; 3. Ron Capps, Supra, 3.873, 332.02 vs. 14. Dale Creasy Jr., Charger, 4.100, 255.05 vs. 6. J.R. Todd, Supra, 3.893, 330.63 vs. 11. Chad Green, Mustang, 4.002, 309.20; 4. Robert Hight, Camaro, 3.876, 329.99 vs. 13. Jim Campbell, Charger, 4.082, 246.71 vs. 5. Cruz Pedregon, Charger, 3.876, 328.38 vs. 12. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.028, 309.49.
Pro Stock Motorcycle — 1. Angelle Sampey, Suzuki, 6.714, 201.82 vs. 16. Kelly Clontz, Suzuki, 6.983, 191.81 vs. 8. Joey Gladstone, Suzuki, 6.804, 199.82 vs. 9. Matt Smith, Suzuki, 6.834, 200.11; 2. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.732, 200.05 vs. 15. Ron Tornow, Victory, 6.966, 188.52 vs. 7. Angie Smith, EBR, 6.801, 200.44 vs. 10. Hector Arana Jr, Buell, 6.840, 196.22; 3. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.763, 199.79 vs. 14. Ryan Oehler, EBR, 6.934, 196.07 vs. 6. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 6.793, 200.08 vs. 11. Chris Bostick, Suzuki, 6.885, 194.21; 4. Eddie Krawiec, Suzuki, 6.779, 198.85 vs. 13. Marc Ingwersen, EBR, 6.924, 198.70 vs. 5. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.781, 199.76 vs. 12. Michael Ray, Victory, 6.892, 195.90.
Did Not Qualify: 17. David Barron, broke.


| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, May 1 2022
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