The 31st annual Carquest NHRA Nationals at Wild Horse Motor Sports Park in Phoenix, Arizona, featured some strong performances throughout qualifying, thanks to some very good weather conditions. Just enough sun to put some heat in the track with some cloud cover to keep the temperatures in the optimal range for tuning performances in all the professional categories. The great weather also brought out huge crowds for the two qualifying days.
In Top Fuel, it was all Tony Schumacher and his US Army team. The Sarge had the field pretty much covered during qualifying, capping it off with a stout 3.722 at 325.621 mph blast during the Friday night session. Doug Kalitta momentarily had his Mac Tools dragster in the #1 spot during the Friday night session with a 3.733 at 329.02 mph, would have to settle for #2, but his speed stands as the top speed of the class going into final eliminations. Richie Crampton (GEICO/Lucas Oil Dragster) at 3.739, J.R. Todd (Red Line/Kalitta Dragster) at 3.753 and Antron Brown (Matco Tools Dragster)with a 3.753 elapse time, round out the top five qualifiers.
In Funny Car, Courtney Force and her TRAXXAS Camaro looked to have the ‘baddest’ hot rod in the class as she grabbed the top spot at the end of the first day of qualifying with a strong 3.996 at 321.58 mph. She wasn’t the only lady flying, as Alexis DeJoria had her Patron XO Café Incendio Toyota Camry in the second spot with a 4.000 at 313.53 mph. But by the end of the final two sessions of qualifying on Saturday, Matt Hagan in his Rocky Boots Dodge would flex his muscles with a track record 3.978 at 320.28 mph to bump Force down to number two. Del Worsham (DHL Toyota Camry) at 3.997, Dejoria at 4.000, and Tommy Johnson Jr. with a 4.003 qualifying elapse time effort round out the top five, going into final eliminations. Fan favorite, and 16-time Funny Car season champion, John Force, sits in the seventh spot with his Peak Anti-Freeze and Coolant Camaro with a 4.025 second elapse time.
In Pro Stock, Erica Enders-Stevens left no doubt that she and her Richard Freeman owned Elite Motor Sports Chevy Camaro team are definitely for real, as she captured the top spot with a strong 6.545 at 211.20 mph, edging out Roger Brogden in his Roof Tec Camaro, who also ran a 6.545 elapse time. Brogden had to settle for number two, as his qualifying speed was 210.94 mph, a mere 0.026 mph slower than Enders-Stevens. Rookie Drew Skillman (Ray Skillman Chevy Camaro) at 6.548, Allen Johnson (Team Mopar Dodge Dart) at 6.551 and Chris McGaha (Harlow Sammons of Odessa Camaro) with a 6.559 round out the top five as they head into final eliminations.
With the close of qualifying, each category is led by the associated season champion from the year before (2014), with Schumacher #1 in Top Fuel, Hagan #1 in Funny Car and Enders-Stevens #1 in Pro Stock. The weather conditions look to be very similar to what was seen throughout qualifying, so some great racing and be expected and some records could fall.