Two Saturday Sessions Will Set Fields for Sunday Eliminations
NORWALK, Ohio – NHRA officials grudgingly yielded to the elements Friday afternoon, canceling first day qualifying leading up to Sunday’s fifth annual Summit Racing Equipment Nationals at Summit Motorsports Park.
At 6:30, still faced with a lengthy track drying effort once the rain stopped, officials opted out, setting up a Saturday scramble to secure the qualified fields in Funny Car, Top Fuel, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle.
Two Saturday sessions, the first at 11 a.m, local time, will determine the qualifying order and the pairings for Sunday’s eliminations. The weather forecast for the remainder of the weekend was favorable.
On the line Saturday will be John Force Racing’s streak of four straight No. 1 starts in the Summit Nationals. Robert Hight qualified the Auto Club Ford Mustang on the straight-line equivalent of the “pole” in 2007 and 2008. Mike Neff followed suit in 2009 and Ashley Force Hood set a track record of 4.032 seconds in qualifying No. 1 a year ago.
“Losing those two sessions could be big,” Hight said. “The pressure will really be on the crew chiefs. If you make the wrong call (on the first run), you’ll go up there without and data in the afternoon. Qualifying sets everything up for race day. I’m sure Jimmy (crew chief Jimmy Prock) will be talking with Neff (who both tunes and drives the Castrol GTX Ford) and the other crew chiefs (Dean Antonelli and Ron Douglas) to come up with a game plan.”
The downside to JFR’s qualifying dominance at Summit Motorsports Park is that the Summit Nationals is the only event in the NHRA Full Throttle Series in which the sport’s dominant team doesn’t have at least one win. Team leader John Force lost to Tim Wilkerson in an all-Ford final last year.