ST. LOUIS — While running low ET three out of the four qualifying sessions, Robert Hight and the AAA Missouri Chevrolet Camaro Funny Car team secured their third No. 1 qualifying position of the season Saturday at the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals. Courtney Force landed in the No. 3 position, John Force is ninth and Brittany Force is eighth in Top Fuel.
Not only did Hight earn nine valuable bonus points for being quickest three sessions, the two-time champion was also charged with some extra confidence. Two of those runs came in the first and third sessions, the ones most similar to what the Funny Car field will see on race day.
Hight’s 3.844-second pass in the final qualifying session earned him his 60th No. 1 qualifier of his career but it was the 3.908-second pass from Saturday afternoon that has Hight feeling optimistic going into race day.
The U.S. Army driver trio of Leah Pritchett, Tony “The Sarge” Schumacher and Antron Brown wound up fifth, sixth and seventh on the elimination ladder, respectively, after the final two rounds of qualifying Saturday for this weekend’s seventh annual AAA Insurance NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park just outside of St. Louis.
Schumacher continued his qualifying consistency aboard the U.S. Army Dragster for Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) Saturday making two more clean runs. His opening pass of 3.779 seconds at 326.79 mph maintained the sixth position on the qualifying grid before the two-time St. Louis winner posted a lap of 3.731 seconds at 330.72 mph, his best run of the weekend, in the final qualifying session. The eight-time Top Fuel world champion will begin the quest for his 85th career Top Fuel victory Sunday by facing Richie Crampton. The two have met seven times previously with a pair of those coming in 2018. Schumacher won their most recent matchup in the second round at New England Dragway in Epping, New Hampshire.
“The last qualifying run was a big one for this U.S. Army Racing team,” said Schumacher. “We have been extremely slow. We were five one-hundredths off and we can’t win a race that way. We made some big changes on that last run and it was an awesome, awesome run. We are heading the right direction. Tomorrow is a long day. No one is safe. I understand there are some cars running better than we are, but this is the beginning. This is when we get the best.”
DSR St. Louis Saturday Highlights:
The DSR Top Fuel contingent will start race day from the top half of the field
Jack Beckman, Ron Capps and Tommy Johnson Jr. will begin their St. Louis Funny Car title chase from top half starting positions
Capps and Johnson earn bonus points for making ‘top three’ passes on Saturday
Capps earned bonus points during all four qualifying rounds
Leah Pritchett made the first official seven-second Factory Stock Showdown Series pass (7.936) to claim the No. 2 starting position
Mark Pawuk made the second official sub-eight second FSXX run, resetting the class E.T. record to earn the No. 1 qualifying spot (7.929)
Pawuk and Pritchett earned round one FSXX victories
Driver of the Matco Tools/U.S. Army Top Fuel Dragster
ST. LOUIS – It’s great to have a quick car in drag racing but it’s even better if you have a consistent hot rod to keep your opponents honest come race day so they fully expect a close race from start to finish. Such is the case for Scott Palmer this weekend at Gateway Motorsports Park where his CatSpot Organic Cat Litter Top Fuel dragster has been running like a bracket car.
“Having a fast car is great and it’s even better when your car goes down the track every time but really what you want the most is both — a really quick car that goes down the track every time,” Palmer said. “We probably could have pushed it a little harder and posted a better time that would have moved us further up the ladder but we’re still happy to have such a solid tune-up. We’ve got a race car for tomorrow.”
Palmer and crew chief Jason McCulloch cooked up four impressive runs between 3.779 and 3.806 seconds in qualifying, the best of which was a 3.779 at 323.74 mph that earned the Tommy Thompson-sponsored team a spot in the field of the seventh annual AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals.
ST. LOUIS – The NHRA playoffs are the perfect time to shine and five-time Pro Stock champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. has been strutting his stuff in his JEGS.com Elite Performance Chevrolet Camaro since the Countdown to the Championship started one race ago. That trend has continued this weekend in St. Louis with Coughlin securing his third No. 1 qualifier honor of the season.
“This is the Countdown,” said Coughlin, a three-time winner this season and a five-time victor at Gateway Motorsports Park. “All the stops have been pulled and we are really being aggressive in qualifying, much more so than we have been all season.”
Coughlin’s best run this weekend so far was the 6.496 at 211.76 mph he posted Saturday afternoon. He also carded a pair of 6.516s and a 6.551 during qualifying, good enough to keep him atop the field since the second qualifying session.
“It was close to Disneyland conditions for Pro Stock cars,” Coughlin said. “We were here almost 24 hours in the same position with the 6.516 (from Q2 Friday) and really felt like today if the forecast was accurate, we could improve.
MADISON, IL –Funny Car point leader J.R. Todd qualified seventh, while Antron Brown placed seventh in Top Fuel to lead Toyota before a sell-out crowd in qualifying for Sunday’s AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park in suburban St. Louis.
Todd, who has driven his DHL Toyota Camry to victories at each of the last two events, ran a 3.928-second pass at 323.66 mph on Friday and followed that up with a top-five qualifying runs in both of Saturday’s sessions.
“We ran well, just not as well as we hoped to in the Friday night session, but we’re in the top half,” said Todd. “Friday night runs usually don’t correlate to Sundays. It’s more of a matter of getting your spot on the ladder. Our DHL/Wix Toyota Camry ran pretty well on Saturday and if it’s overcast tomorrow, these runs we made today could be a pretty good indicator.”
The U.S. Army driver trio of Leah Pritchett, Tony “The Sarge” Schumacher and Antron Brown are fifth, sixth and ninth on the provisional ladder, respectively, after the opening two rounds of qualifying Friday for this weekend’s seventh annual AAA Insurance NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park just outside of St. Louis.
Schumacher and his U.S. Army Dragster for Don Schumacher Racing, a two-time St. Louis winner, opened the day with a run of 3.778 seconds at 324.83 mph, the second-best of the session, and collected a pair of qualifying points. “The Sarge” and Clay Millican were the final two cars in Friday’s night session and Schumacher posted a lap of 3.762 seconds at 328.06 mph to land in the sixth spot.
“We made two really good runs today,” said Schumacher. “This U.S. Army car continues to get better and better. You just look at how close everyone is right now. There are some guys that can really fast in these night sessions and we’re not quite there yet. The weather looks like we’ll have a couple more good chances tomorrow. We were able to get a couple qualifying points today, but the guys in front of us got points too. The goal tomorrow is to get more qualifying points and continue getting this U.S. Army machine ready for Sunday.”