Countdown to the Championship Round 1
- Robert Hight, Justin Ashley, Bo Butner and Angie Smith take the lead in Friday’s qualifying at Maple Grove (Pennsylvania) Raceway.
- Hight is the NHRA Funny Car points leader and is seeking his 75th career No. 1 qualifying position.
- Hight’s teammate John Force, a 16-time world champion, is second in Funny Cars after day one.
Funny Car points leader Robert Hight opened the championship playoff countdown in impressive fashion, advancing to the No. 1 provisional qualifier on Friday at the 37th Annual Pep Boys NHRA National Championships at Maple Grove Raceway.
Justin Ashley (Top Fuel), Bo Butner (Pro Stock) and Angie Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle) are also the provisional No. 1 qualifiers in the first of six championship countdown races in the 2022 season. NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series. .
Hight continued his incredible 2022 to open the playoffs, moving into first place with his 3.867-second streak at 331.20 mph in his 11,000-hp Chevrolet Camaro SS Auto Club. Hight is seeking his fourth No. 1 qualifier this season and the 75th of his career, but the points leader is also looking to add to the six wins he has already racked up. He has been remarkably consistent throughout the season and the team’s mood will not change during the Championship countdown as the three-time world champion looks to continue his success this year.
“We have to be aggressive and we’re going to need all the points we can get,” Hight said. “You have to think carefully because anything can happen with such a small lead. We have to pick up all the points we can. It’s one race at a time. That’s what it will take to win this championship. Every point counts.
“We had a team meeting and we talked about six races, and we have to give our all. We have to put aside everything that really doesn’t matter and focus on this car, but you don’t you really don’t have to tell this team. They’re on. It’s exciting to be a part of this, exciting to see their smiles when you come back into the pits. We’re going to work hard and try to get more of those points tomorrow .
In Top Fuel, Ashley continued her success at Maple Grove Raceway, taking first place Friday with a 3.703-330.55 run in her 11,000 horsepower Phillips Connect Toyota dragster. In his first Championship Countdown appearance last season, Ashley made it through to the final round at his home track, and he opened this year’s playoffs on a fantastic note as he seeks his second No. 1 spot this season. Ashley is third to open the playoffs and will be looking to catch up this weekend at Reading.
“It was a great race and going into today we thought the conditions would be there and it would be really fast,” Ashley said. “The car felt straight and true. It went out there and did exactly what we wanted it to do. Especially in the countdown time, those bonus points are key and we have a good base from which to start. weekend. You feel it in the countdown, the energy, but you really can’t change anything. You just have to go about your business the same way as before. If you try to change things, you try to push and I don’t think pushing is a good idea. You have to let the race come to you.
Running at his sponsor’s event, Mike Salinas, who is second in points, is just behind Ashley after his 3.705-330.96 run. Austin Prock ran a 3.706 at 332.02 for third place, while four-time reigning world champion Steve Torrence (3.711) and Clay Millican (3.721) are fourth and fifth.
It’s been a struggle for most of the season for Bo Butner in Pro Stock, but the Championship countdown may have breathed new life into the former world champion as he rises to No. 1 with his run of 6.523 at 210.08 in his Johnson’s Horsepowered Garage Camaro. Butner has only qualified better than fifth this season, but things could change at the right time. He debuted a new car last month and took fifth place at Indy, adding another great run on Friday as the veteran looks to make a run in the playoffs.
“This new car has done us good from the start,” said Butner, who opens the championship countdown 11th in the points standings. “I have my work cut out for me (in the countdown), but we will try to put in some laps and try to win a race or two. I haven’t let (the difficulties of the start of the season) bring me down. Mentally I’m in great shape and I’m here to have fun. Reading has been great for us over the years and it’s exciting to be here. The Koretsky family have done a hell of a lot of job with the establishment and we’re just happy to be here.
Starting the championship countdown from seventh place in Pro Stock Motorcycle, Angie Smith opened the playoffs on a strong note, moving up to No. 1 with a 6.757-201.22 run on her Suzuki Denso Auto Parts . If it holds, Smith would earn his second No. 1 spot this year and third of his career. She’s also after her first win of the 2022 season and getting her this weekend at Maple Grove Raceway to open the championship countdown would certainly count as perfect timing.
“To finish at No. 1, we are quite happy. It’s all about momentum and if you start at the top you can just go up from there,” Smith said. “I feel like we’re in a good place, it’s just a matter of putting it all together. I have to treat it like it’s any other race. In the past, I’ve let the race in the countdown get to me. There are a lot of fast bikes and it’s one of the tightest field we’ve ever had, but I have to be calm and focused. I think I’m more comfortable on the bike than I’ve ever been and I’m on the best bike I’ve ever had.
NHRA Pep Boys National Qualifiers
Maple Grove Racecourse (Pennsylvania)
Friday’s results after the first of three qualifying rounds for the 37th annual Pep Boys NHRA National Championships at Maple Grove Raceway, 17th of 22 events in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series. Qualifying will continue on Saturday for Sunday’s final eliminations.
Top fuel — 1. Justin Ashley, 3.703 seconds, 330.55 mph; 2. Mike Salinas, 3.705, 330.96; 3. Austin Prock, 3.706, 332.02; 4. Steve Torrence, 3.711, 330.39; 5. Millican clay, 3.721, 329.02; 6. Doug Kalitta, 3.724, 323.89; 7. Lea Pruett, 3.764, 326.24; 8.Tony Schumacher, 3.764, 323.12; 9. Joe Morrison, 3.903, 313.58; 10.Jeffrey Chatterson, 3.927, 310.48; 11. Doug Foley, 4.434, 169.81; 12.Josh Hart, 6.278, 107.00; 13. Shawn Langdon, 6.352, 104.07; 14. Anthony Brown, 6.472, 101.87; 15. Force of Brittany, 6.617, 91.19.
funny car — 1.Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 3.867, 331.20; 2. John Force, Camaro, 3.890, 329.99; 3. Ron Capps, Toyota Supra, 3.891, 334.90; 4. Bob Tasca III, Ford Mustang, 3.904, 330.80; 5. Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 3.906, 326.32; 6. JR Todd, Supra, 3.912, 330.07; 7. Cruz Pedregon, Charger, 3.936, 317.72; 8. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 3.943, 328.94; 9. Paul Lee, Charger, 3.984, 302.55; 10. Jim Campbell, Charger, 3.995, 319.60; 11. Terry Haddock, Mustang, 4.026, 315.27; 12. Alexis DeJoria, Supra, 4.063, 246.98; 13. Phil Burkart, Chevy Monte Carlo, 6.190, 107.72; 14. Chad Green, Mustang, 6.731, 105.03; 15. Cory Lee, Mustang, went bankrupt.
Professional stock — 1. Bo Butner, Chevy Camaro, 6.523, 210.08; 2. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.531, 210.87; 3. Kyle Koretsky, Camaro, 6.534, 209.72; 4. Dallas Glenn, Camaro, 6.537, 210.57; 5. Aaron Stanfield, Camaro, 6.545, 209.59; 6. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.547, 209.92; 7. Troy Coughlin Jr., Camaro, 6.549, 210.54; 8. Fernando Cuadra Jr., Ford Mustang, 6.570, 209.43; 9. Camrie Caruso, Camaro, 6.573, 206.23; 10. Cristian Cuadra, Mustang, 6.575, 209.69; 11. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.575, 208.49; 12.Mason McGaha, Camaro, 6.576, 208.65; 13. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.602, 209.85; 14. Kenny Delco, Camaro, 6.627, 209.33; 15. Alan Prusiensky, Dodge Dart, 6.628, 208.88; 16. Fernando Cuadra, Mustang, 6.635, 207.82. Unqualified: 17. Chris Sweeny, 6.656, 208.65; 18. Larry Morgan, 6.687, 207.53; 19.Brandon Miller, 10.784, 84.04; 20. Gray Tanner, 17.120, 49.05.
Pro Stock Motorcycle — 1. Angie Smith, EBR, 6.757, 201.22; 2. Matt Smith, EBR, 6.768, 201.55; 3.Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.774, 198.06; 4. Angele Sampey, Suzuki, 6.782, 201.07; 5. Marc Ingwersen, EBR, 6.785, 198.50; 6. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.800, 196.50; 7. Hector Arana Jr, Buell, 6.806, 199.97; 8. Joey Gladstone, Suzuki, 6.812, 198.23; 9. Chris Bostick, Buell, 6.839, 197.25; 10. Scotty Pollacheck, EBR, 6.849, 197.97; 11. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.855, 197.16; 12.Jianna Evaristo, Suzuki, 6.870, 194.86; 13. Kelly Clontz, Suzuki, 6.910, 194.74; 14. Ron Tornow, Victory, 6.919, 193.16; 15. Ryan Oehler, EBR, 7.006, 190.78; 16. Gaige Herrera, Suzuki, 11.850, 67.27. Unqualified: 17. Eddie Krawiec, 14.668, 55.12.