NORWALK, Ohio — John Force raced to the qualifying lead in Funny Car on Friday at the seventh annual NHRA Nationals at Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park.
After advancing to the final round of the last three events, Force, a 15-time Funny Car world champion, kept his hot streak going, powering his Ford Mustang to a leading performance of 4.021 seconds at 317.72 mph. The E.T. is a new track record.
If Force's performance holds through Saturday's two qualifying sessions, it will be his third No. 1 of the season, second in the last three weeks and 143rd of his career — the most in NHRA history.
Doug Kalitta (Top Fuel), Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) and Michael Ray (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also were qualifying leaders in their categories at the 13th of the 24 NHRA events scheduled this year.
Kalitta paced the Top Fuel category with a 3.767 at 327.74, breaking the track record in both categories. Kalitta, seeking his first win of 2013, will claim his fifth No.1 qualifier this season and 36th of his career if the time holds.
In Pro Stock, Johnson, the defending world champion, took command in the second qualifying session, running 6.592 at 209.75. If it holds, it would be the first No. 1 qualifier this season and 29th of his career.
Ray ran 6.926 at 193.68 to take the initial top spot in Pro Stock Motorcycle. Should that run maintain the top spot, it would be the second No. 1 qualifier of 2013 for Ray, who is the most recent event winner in the class.