ENNIS, Texas (Oct. 14, 2023) – In danger of going winless for just the second time in his last 37 seasons on the NHRA pro tour, John Force took a big step toward changing that dynamic on Saturday when he drove the PEAK Antifreeze and Coolant Chevrolet Camaro SS to a time of 3.823 seconds, the quickest of the final session and the quickest of his career. As a result, he and his PEAK team will start Sunday’s 38th annual NHRA Texas Fall Nationals from the No. 2 qualifying position.
After a pair of runs that pushed the envelope, including the first run on Saturday, Robert Hight and the AAA Texas / Cornwell Tools Chevrolet Camaro SS team rallied in the final session to qualify third, Brittany Force and the Flav-R-Pac / Monster Energy team took the No. 4 spot in Top Fuel and Austin Prock and the Montana Brand / Rocky Mountain Twist team will start eighth.
For Force, Saturday night’s monster run lowered his average for four weekend qualifying runs to 3.860 seconds and sends him into Sunday eliminations against No. 15 qualifier Jeff Diehl against whom he is 10-0 in his career.
“We found something in our race car (that had been problematic),” Force said. “Robert jumped up and was right there, too. We were all right there together, but my car is getting faster. I really want to thank (crew chiefs) Danny Hood and Tim Fabrisi. We go round-and-round trying to straighten me out.
“In addition to running the fastest run of my entire career, our PR lady that is very important to all of us and our sport, Sara Slaughter, and her guy, Mark, this is their wedding today. I just felt like that was a great thing for me to run my best ever on her special day. I’m happy for everyone (because) we definitely all do this as a team!”
Hight, in the middle of a battle that could secure his fourth series championship, will face Texan Terry Haddock in the Sunday’s first round after a Saturday evening run of 3.832 seconds propelled him from sixth to third in the final order. He is seeking his fifth win at the Motorplex where he last won from the No. 6 qualifying position in 2018.
“I’m really proud of the AAA team for getting the third spot,” Hight said. “Going into the last qualifying session, it was really a do or die run. We needed that run. Otherwise, we were going to be faced with eighth or ninth qualifier and that’s not where we want to be. We also pushed (the limit on) a couple of runs, so we kinda know where the edge is for Sunday. I like the way the ladder sets up. It looks really, really good. All of the guys that are in the hunt are on the other side of the ladder. We’ll let them duke it out and hopefully we will face one of them in the finals.”
After a broken hose put liquid under the rear tires and forced Brittany to abort, she and her Flav-R-Pac team made two strong Saturday runs, one at 3.666 seconds at 327.92 mph and the other at 3.657 seconds at 335.72 mph, the latter enabling her to grab up two more qualifying bonus points.
“Overall, it has been a good two days of qualifying for this Flav-R-Pac / Monster Energy team,” Force said after her strong showing on Saturday. “We’ve been running pretty consistent, a 3.67, a 3.66 and, in the last session, a 3.657 at 335mph. That’s outstanding for this team. A killer run. I’m looking forward to race day tomorrow. It’s a new ball game. Conditions are going to be great. We face (No. 13 qualifier) Spencer Massey first round and we are looking for four win lights and our first win of the season. We’ve been closing in on it.”
Although they didn’t quite match the numbers put up by the Flav-R-Pac / Monster Energy team, Prock and the Montana Brand / Rocky Mountain Twist made a pair of representative runs Saturday that thrust them prominently into contention for their first Texas Fall Nationals title. The first run on Saturday produced a time of 3.689 seconds at 333.27 mph out of the right lane and moved them up into the top half of the field and a following run of 3.669 at 327.89 mph on the left side kept them there. Prock will race three-time world champion Antron Brown, the No. 9 qualifier, in the first round.
“Another solid two passes today,” said an upbeat Prock. “We’ve made three competitive runs so far. I’m really proud of the progress we’ve made this weekend. Sitting No. 8 we will have the choice of lanes tomorrow morning. We’re looking forward to a strong Sunday in Dallas!”
Final eliminations in the NHRA Texas Fall Nationals at the Texas Motorplex are set for a 12 noon start on Sunday. Television coverage on FOX Sports 1 (FS1) begins at 1:00 p.m. ET Sunday with two hours of qualifying highlights followed at 3:00 p.m., ET by three hour of single elimination racing.