BRAINERD, Minn. (Aug. 18, 2023) – Brittany Force and the Monster Energy / Flav-R-Pac Chevrolet dragster sit in the No. 3 spot after day one of qualifying at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway (BIR) was cut short for the Top Fuel dragsters after a lengthy oil down delay in the left lane. Austin Prock and the Montanan brand / Rocky Mountain Twist team are eighth after one session. The Funny Car teams did get a second qualifying run in with Robert Hight and the Cornwell Tools / AAA Chevy Camaro SS closing the day in the No. 6 spot and John Force and the PEAK Antifreeze and Coolant Chevy Camaro SS team in the No. 7 spot.
Coming off a runner-up finish last weekend, Brittany Force and the Monster Energy team opened the weekend at BIR with the third-quickest run of the first session at 3.762 seconds and 331.45 mph. With daylight running out and difficult track conditions in the left lane where the oil down took place, the Top Fuel teams did not make a second qualifying run.
“Out here in Brainerd and right from the start in the first qualifying session we ran a killer 3.76 to put us No. 3. Unfortunately, because of uneven lanes and lack of light with the sun going down we lost our second qualifying pass which is really disappointing,” Force said. “After that first solid run we were really going to step it up and push this car in the best conditions we would have all weekend. That’s the way the game is played, everyone else had to follow the same rules so we’ll pick up where we left off and try to get two more solid runs tomorrow.”
Robert Hight and the Cornwell Tools team carried over their consistency from Topeka, Kansas, laying down a solid 3.942-second pass at 321.73 mph to slot him into the No. 3 spot before the day’s second run. In the left lane, where Safety Safari had the lengthy oil down clean-up, the Cornwell Tools Chevy would smoke the tires near 300 feet for a 5.983 at 114.28. He’d finish the night in the No. 6 spot.
With two wins and three No. 1 qualifying positions already this season, Hight and the Cornwell Tools / AAA / Flav-R-Pac Chevy team secured their spot in the upcoming NHRA Countdown to the Championship, NHRA’s six-race playoffs. Hight officially signed his name into Championship contention after his second qualifying run.
“It’s not a secret we’ve struggled to this point. But we feel like we are getting a handle on it and we’re going to do whatever it takes to get us where we need to be for the Countdown,” Hight said. “If that means testing and getting another 20-30 runs, we’re prepared to do whatever it is we need to do to get this Cornwell Tools Chevy where it needs to be and back to being competitive.”
John Force and the PEAK Chevy started the day off with a solid 3.943-second pass at 322.73 mph landing him in the No. 4 spot heading into the evening session. After the hour clean-up in the left lane, the PEAK Camaro struggled to make it down the lane smoking the tires at 300 feet for only a 6.962 at 89.03. Force would shift into the No. 7 spot.
Austin Prock and the Montana Brand team were on a good run in the first qualifying session crossing the finish line at 3.795 seconds and 321.12 mph. The effort slid the Montana Brand team into the No. 8 spot where they’d stay without a chance at a second run on Friday night.
Competition at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway continues with qualifying Saturday at 1:30 and 4:15 p.m. Eliminations are slated to begin Sunday at 11 a.m. Television coverage of the event continues with a second qualifying show Sunday at 1 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1 (FS1). Eliminations will air Sunday at 4 p.m. ET on FOX Broadcasting Network.