CHANDLER, Ariz. — Tony Schumacher had the fastest official speed in Top Fuel history Friday in the NHRA Arizona Nationals, and Brittany Force struggled in her first two runs since a jarring crash in the season-opening event.
Schumacher had a 336.57 mph run at 3.667 seconds in his second pass after opening with a 3.649 at 334.65.
“This was just the perfect storm,” Schumacher said. “We had the right conditions. The track was good and smooth and was prepped correctly and we’ve got a car with good power. Everything is working right. We were low ET (elapsed time) of every run in Pomona, so we knew we were bringing a tuneup that was really good, and then we’re able to fine-tune it here.”
He has a track-record five victories.
“This track has always been a record-setting track, and we’ve won a lot here,” Schumacher said.
Schumacher had a 336.57 mph run at 3.661 seconds in his second pass after opening with a 3.649 at 334.65 at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park. The eight-time season champion broke the record of 334.15 set by Shawn Langdon in 2012 in Mohnton, Pennsylvania, and topped the national mark of 333.66 set by Force last year in Topeka, Kansas.
Force smoked the tires a few hundred feet into her first run, lost traction and coasted through in 4.454 at 172 mph. She had an even worse run in the second of four qualifying passes Friday and Saturday, crawling in at 15.152 and 43.45.
The runs were the reigning Top Fuel champion’s first since escaping major injury two weeks ago in a wall-banging crash in the NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, California.
“My thoughts were all over the place (before the first run),” said the 31-year-old Force, one of Funny Car great John Force’s four daughters. “It definitely feels good to be back. That crash was ugly.”
She was cleared to race Thursday by her doctor and NHRA medical officials.
“I got in (the car) yesterday, got suited up and belted in and felt good,” Force said. “I have to say thank you to the fans, my sponsors, all of my NHRA family for all the support.
“It’s what we do. I’ve been out here for six years and never had a mishap. It happens in drag racing, but we’ve gone back and looked at it. We know what happened. We just try to move on from here. It’s good to be back. These racetracks are home.”
Jack Beckman topped Funny Car qualifying in a Dodge Charger R/T, matching first-session leader Courtney Force’s time of 3.845 but at 333.43 to Force’s 328.70.
Alex Laughlin led Pro Stock with a 6.537 at 209.43 in a Chevrolet Camaro.
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