Looking to possibly jump back in the points lead on the strength of a big weekend at Brainerd International Raceway, standout Bob Tasca III started off strong on Friday, taking the provisional No. 1 spot in Funny Car at the 39th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals.
Mike Salinas (Top Fuel) is also a provisional No. 1 qualifier at the 12th race of the 2021 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season.
Tasca, who was the points leader for an eight-race stretch earlier this year, powered to the No. 1 spot in his 11,000-horsepower Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Mustang with a run of 3.941-seconds at 326.63 mph. Tasca would claim the No. 1 spot for the second time this year and the seventh time in his career if it holds up. Sitting just 50 points behind current points leader John Force, Tasca, who is currently fourth in points but just 21 out of second, has his sights on a major move this weekend. He’s picked up two victories this year and a third would be big heading into the Countdown to the Championship playoffs.
“We came in here trying to run low 3.90s and the speed is good, and we knew we had to really step on it to make the power you need to go out here and run these numbers,” Tasca said. “Tomorrow is a whole different ballgame. The temperatures are going to drop and this Motorcraft car is going to have to go out there and run even harder tomorrow. But this is a good way to start the weekend.”
Alexis DeJoria, who won the race in 2017, is currently second in Funny Car with a strong run of 3.963 at 297.22. Remarkably, it would be the seventh race DeJoria has qualified No. 2 this year if it sticks and the fourth time in the past five races as she looks to continue her consistent season. Points leader Force, who won last weekend in Topeka to move to the top of the standings for the first time since 2014 and is an 11-time Brainerd winner, is currently third after going 3.968 at 322.42. J.R. Todd, who was the runner-up last weekend, is fourth with a run of 3.970 at 321.73.
In Top Fuel, Salinas went 3.752 at 326.08 in his 11,000-horsepower Scrappers Racing dragster to currently sit in the No. 1 spot. If it holds, it would be the first top spot of the year for Salinas and the seventh in his career. He has qualified second once in 2021 and third on four separate occasions, including three of the past four races, and Salinas is also chasing his first win of the season. Salinas, who entered the weekend sixth in points but just 40 points out of fourth, advanced to the final round in Epping and will try to finish the job and earn his first win in Brainerd.
“It was windy but our guys know what they’re doing,” said Salinas, who has two career victories. “It was a nice, smooth, clean (run) and a good start to the weekend. I think we’ll be just fine. I think it has a lot more left in it, too. I think there’s a 3.72, 3.73 out there.”
Leah Pruett, who recently won in Pomona and has two Brainerd wins, is in second after the first round of qualifying thanks to her run of 3.789 at 319.90. She was the only other driver in the class to make a run in the 3.70s. Justin Ashley was close and currently is in third after going 3.807 at 323.74. Last week’s Topeka winner, Brittany Force, is right behind after going 3.813 at 286.98. She won at Brainerd in 2016.
Qualifying continues at 2:00 p.m. CT on Saturday at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway.
BRAINERD, Minn. — Friday’s results after the first one of three rounds of qualifying for the 39th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway, 12th of 20 events in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series. Qualifying will continue Saturday for Sunday’s final eliminations.
Top Fuel — 1. Mike Salinas, 3.752 seconds, 326.08 mph; 2. Leah Pruett, 3.789, 319.90; 3. Justin Ashley, 3.807, 323.74; 4. Brittany Force, 3.813, 286.98; 5. Shawn Langdon, 3.851, 298.01; 6. T.J. Zizzo, 3.861, 317.87; 7. Antron Brown, 3.912, 283.61; 8. Doug Kalitta, 4.258, 199.14; 9. Steve Torrence, 4.751, 149.91.
Funny Car — 1. Bob Tasca III, Ford Mustang, 3.941, 326.63; 2. Alexis DeJoria, Toyota Camry, 3.963, 297.22; 3. John Force, Chevy Camaro, 3.968, 322.42; 4. J.R. Todd, Camry, 3.970, 321.73; 5. Robert Hight, Camaro, 3.971, 307.72; 6. Cruz Pedregon, Dodge Charger, 3.995, 318.47; 7. Blake Alexander, Mustang, 3.995, 315.18; 8. Paul Lee, Charger, 4.004, 320.43; 9. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.031, 318.24; 10. Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.173, 237.67; 11. Jim Campbell, Charger, 4.230, 238.38; 12. Dale Creasy Jr., Charger, 4.241, 251.20; 13. Ron Capps, Charger, 4.385, 202.15; 14. Gary Densham, Mustang, 10.234, 89.22.