event: 33rd annual Dodge NHRA Nationals
when: September 21-24, 2017
where: Maple Grove Raceway near Reading, PA, USA

Krawiec Cruises, Savoie and Arana

Nearly Come to Bruises

photos by Tim Hailey, story by Hailey with a lotta help from the NHRA and team reports


Eddie Krawiec and the Screamin’ Eagle/Vance & Hines/Harley-Davidson team

Eddie Krawiec and the Screamin’ Eagle/Vance & Hines/Harley-Davidson team continued their run through the NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle field with their third straight win, this time at the Dodge NHRA Nationals at rural Pennsylvania’s Maple Grove Raceway.

Krawiec and teammate Andrew Hines weren’t that impressive in qualifying, finishing fourth and fifth, respectively, in the order. “We didn’t start out as strong as we had hoped in qualifying, but we put it all together today and we’re pretty pleased with these results,” Krawiec said after the win. “Things are definitely on the upswing since we switched back to last year’s chassis, it’s been huge for me and my team at the exact right time.”

Qualifying in fact was a see-saw battle, led in Q1 by Scotty Pollacheck, Q2 by Hector Arana Jr., and again by Pollacheck at the end in a last-gasp nip of Jerry Savoie by .002 with a 6.822.
Pollacheck had an easy time with first-time qualifier Andie Rawlings in the first round of eliminations.

Lance Bonham and Blake Gann confer just before E1

There were several other first-time qualifiers at Maple Grove, including Lance Bonham—who showed up for his E1 match with Savoie but didn’t start his bike after explicit orders from owner Blake Gann. Seems Bonham kept it on the rev limiter a bit too long on his last qualifying pass and Gann wasn’t having any more of that this weekend.

Ron “Rat” Tornow

Fellow first-timer Ron “Rat” Tornow, with his mom in tow, lost to Hines in round one. Charlie Sullivan, who's donned his leathers on "Seven or eight," NHRA racedays, lost to Arana Jr. in the first round.

Kelly Clontz

Kelly Clontz qualified for the third time and lost to Krawiec in round one. Eddie then beat teammate Hines and trailered Pollacheck on a .016 to .054 holeshot to meet regular season dominator LE Tonglet in the final.

Tonglet had been extremely lucky all day, breaking a transmission in E1 against redlighting Angie Smith. His .003 light put teammate Savoie out despite Jerry’s much quicker pass.

Then Tonglet won a staging duel against Arana Jr. that may never fully be erased from each team’s memory.

Hector Arana Jr and Jim Yates confer

It all started when—according to WAR tuner Tim Kulungian—Karen Stoffer warned Tonglet’s team that the Aranas might be sketchy about making a lane choice. “They did that to me,” Stoffer reportedly said.

“The last pair of Pro Stock cars was going down the track and they still hadn’t picked their lane yet,” Kulungian said about their pairing. “So I knew the games had begun. I told LE to go ahead and roll into the right lane and get his tire wet.”

LE’s dad Gary is tasked with arming the ECU before bike is started. “But for some reason LE must have thought Gary hadn’t done it because he flipped the switch, which turned the ECU off,” said Kulungian.

LE Tonglet with Hector Arana J in the shade

Of course the bike wouldn’t start. As a bit of a panic ensued around the Nitro Fish Suzuki, Arana Jr. burned out and rolled toward the starting line, “I could see LE messing with the switch and I knew what had happened,” said Kulungian.

The ECU now armed, the bike was started and Tonglet did a hasty burnout. Similarly, the bike was quickly lined up—Tonglet only doing one of his customary practice tucks instead of the usual two. “Gary did a little talkin’ to him and he (LE) pre-staged,” said Savoie.

Arana Jr. was taking some time rolling up to the line. "I was just inching up to the tree, about to roll into the pre-stage beam, and for whatever reason he double bulbed me," Arana said in a press release. "

“Eventually LE thought ‘To hell with this,’ and lit the second bulb,” agreed Savoie. “Junior put the bike in gear twice, then put his elbow on the tank and kinda fooled with his shield a little bit.” One can picture his intense blue eyes noticing every detail as a head of steam starts to build up inside him.

Hector Arana Jr. with his game face on

"I decided to sit there and compose myself before I advanced any further forward. I sat there for a few extra moments because I like to be ready to let the clutch loose even before I pre-stage, so I got ready and figured out what I was going to do before rolling in,” said Arana Jr.

“Junior stopped, which he has every right to do,” said Savoie. “That’s racing. But the bottom line is, before LE lit the second bulb, they were deliberately holding up the show. They stalled us, and it can become a mechanical problem, sittin’ there overheating.”

“I think the thing is they don’t like to get their bikes hot,” fellow racer Steve Johnson said about the WAR team.

Savoie echoed Johnson’s statement about his bikes and heat. “Our bikes idle at higher RPM and are all covered up with bodywork. Theirs’(Arana’s Buell) is all out in the open with nothing.
“It took him so long to roll in I thought the bulbs were broken! I counted it on TV and the best I could come up with is 45 seconds.”

Eventually, of course, both bikes staged and the race was run. Tonglet took the tree by .030. “Unfortunately, he still got me off the tree but that's racing,” said Arana Jr. “It wouldn't have mattered anyway because my bike went into neutral during the run.”

Tonglet’s winlight came on and Savoie’s steam boiled over. He unleashed a Tourettes-like stream of obscenities at Hector Sr., then turned his attention towards Arana crew chief Jim Yates. “And you too!” Savoie told the former Pro Stock Car racer. “They never did any of this sh_t until you got here!”

When Lucas Oil operations man Don Corsette intervened, Savoie gave him a and the horse he rode in on brutal scolding as well.

Hector Arana Sr. and Lucas Oil's Don Corsette

“What I heard later about Jerry going crazy at my dad and the words exchanged at the starting line after we left was unfortunate,” said Arana Jr.

“I ain’t got no sponsors, I don’t have to hold my tongue for nobody,” said Savoie. “Maybe I coulda said less ‘motherf_ers’ to his face.

“For me and LE, it was just racin’,” said Hector. “But you mean to tell me Jerry has trouble starting his bike against me three times and it’s just coincidence? I heard them start up after I did my burnout and I was like ‘Alright, it’s gonna be that way?’ This isn’t club racing. We’re out here to win.”

Savoie denies any bike-starting shenanigans against the Aranas or anybody. “We try and be as fair as possible,” he insisted.

Jerry Savoie at a lighter moment

“The first thing I’d say is that the Arana family is some of the nicest people you’d ever meet in your life. The kids are respectful, they were raised properly, but what happened on Sunday was totally wrong. Every year—once or twice a year—they pull this bullsh_t. What they did was perfectly legal.”

The whole WAR team was particularly inflamed by Arana Jr’s Geiger Media-written press release, which states: “Arana was quick to point out he did nothing wrong or illegal. In fact, it was Tonglet who provoked the squabble by ‘double-bulbing’ Arana, a legal but controversial tactic usually employed by lesser opponents trying to upset a much better rider.”

But in no way is Hector Jr, who’s never raced anything other than Pro Stock Motorcycle, likely to win a staging duel against grudge-tested Tonglet. “Yeah that’s right,” said LE. “I’ve raced everything.” As racer or rider, Tonglet is clearly one of the best and most experienced in the PSM field.

It will be interesting to see what happens between these two top teams this weekend at Gateway. “I said my piece to them,” said Savoie. “We’ll see at the next one. I guarantee I ain’t goin’ in first.”

LE broke his second transmission of the day in the final against Krawiec. “I had the slowest bike in the field and went all the way to the final!” laughed Tonglet.

I asked Krawiec what he thought the source WAR’s transmission problems was. “They don’t use Vance & Hines transmissions,” said Krawiec. The WAR bikes use Liberty Gear. “Those transmissions are built for 300 horsepower, not the 380 we’re making now.”

And so the Screamin’ Eagle/Vance & Hines/Harley-Davidson team’s uncanny ability of to find its mojo in the Countdown to One championship playoff series continues, and this time it seems it’s Krawiec that wants it more than his teammate.

Pro Stock Car winner and Speed Dawg's Chris Figdore in the winners circle

Funny Car winner Ron Capps and Courtney Force in the final

Saturday: Pollacheck's First Green Hat

Scotty Pollacheck

Scotty Pollacheck moved atop the Pro Stock Motorcycle qualifying order at the 33rd annual Dodge NHRA Nationals in front of a sold out Maple Grove Raceway crowd. Pollacheck ran a 6.822 at 196.76 on his Suzuki Extended Protection Suzuki in the final qualifying session on Saturday. It is the first No. 1 qualifier of his NHRA PSM career and thus his first green hat, given by NHRA to No. 1 qualifying teams.

“Nothing is ever easy for us, but to get our first No. 1 ever is such a huge deal," said Pollacheck. "In the first round (Saturday's Q3, we blew our best motor so we had to put a new one in. But I have such an incredible team that we were able to get back out there and have some great runs today."

Reigning world champ Jerry Savoie moved up to second after a 6.824 at 196.76 on his White Alligator Racing Suzuki just moments before Pollacheck laid down his conquering salvo. "I saw Jerry run his .62 and I was thinking 'What an incredible run in the heat of the day,'" said Pollacheck. "Then we went up and made our lap, and as I came off the track I knew it was a good one, but I didn't know how good. The NHRA guy told me I went .822, but I didn't know what Jerry's .82 was with. And so the first thing I said was 'Did I get the old man?' And Jerry said 'Yeah, you got me.'"

Jerry also said "Congratulations to a great team," on Facebook. "They have been working very hard ! First class." You can see an extensive interview with Pollacheck in the Eatmyink Facebook Group.

Pollacheck tuner Greg Underdahl at zMAX—the last time he had a working Racepack

But probably the best thing about Pollacheck's No. 1 qualifier is that tuner Greg Underdahl is working without a computer. "Our Racepack broke at Charlotte, so we've been doing it the old school way," said Underdahl.

"You mean like looking at the spark plugs?" I asked.

"You can see where I've been rubbing my hands along there," Greg Underdahl said about the panel behind Pollacheck's exhaust

"Yeah, you can learn a lot that way." Then he pointed to the panel on Pollacheck's bike behind the exhaust where smoke from the pipe leaves its sediment. "You can see where I've been rubbing my hands along there to see what it looks like."

With the Maple Grove date moved back to September, all teams were presented with a totally different tuning environment than they normally find there in cool, wet October. "The conditions this weekend are actually very similar to what we encountered last week in Charlotte," noted Pollacheck, who came off the trailer fast and first in Q1.

Andie Rawlings still with the Doc Marten's

Scotty is set to take on first-time qualifier Andie Rawlings in the first round. There are several other first-time qualifier, including Lance Bonham who runs Savoie in the first elimination round. Hector Arana Jr. dropped to third after his preliminary No. 1 pass of 6.834 at 196.76 did not hold up on Saturday. In E1 he will take on Charlie Sullivan, who's donned his leathers on "Seven or eight," NHRA racedays.

"The weather got worse today and most of the other teams seemed to kind of be missing the tune-up a little bit, just like us, so of course our fingers stayed crossed that we would stay No. 1," Arana said. "But in the back of your mind you know there are a bunch of big hitters out there and more than a few of them can make a big run and knock you out of the top spot.

"In Q4 I was watching everyone make their runs and I saw Jerry go lower than us and then Scotty did it too. Then you just have to hope that you can beat them but unfortunately we weren't able to go any lower so we'll start Sunday as the third qualifier. That was Scotty's first No. 1 qualifier so I'm happy for him.

"Jim (Yates, crew chief) and my dad (teammate Hector Arana Sr.) are really good at coming up with a good plan for raceday. We've been running well at just about every race this year and I don't know why that won't continue tomorrow. Of course, we won't look past anybody."

Charlie Sullivan faces Hector Arana Jr in E1

Yet another first-timer, former Prostar standout Ron "Rat" Tornow, qualified 12th on Matt Smith's rental and races Andrew Hines.

Speaking of Matt Smith, he missed another round of qualifying and finished eighth in the order and faces Joey Gladstone. But the big story involving Smith is how he lost his Polaris sponsorship. According to Matt and Angie, Polaris planned on rebranding their Victorys as Indians and support MSR for three more years. But it turns out that while the now-defunct Victory brand was approved by NHRA, the Indian won't be because it sullies the cozy relationship NHRA has with Harley-Davidson. Could it be because Indian is kicking Harley's asson the nation's Flat Tracks? Look forward to reading more about this huge story further right here on Eatmyink.

Game face on? Check! Kelly Clontz qualified 13th and faces Eddie Krawiec first round

The Harleys (Eddie Krawiec shown above) were slow in Q1, quick in Q2, then failed to improve on Saturday. Test mode?

Robert Hight broke both ends of the Funny Car track record with a 3.844-second pass at 339.02 mph in his Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro, the second fastest speed in NHRA history, during his second pass on Friday night. He held on for his sixth No. 1 qualifier of the season as he chases his second consecutive win to start the Countdown to the Championship.

“Being able to have a good run today in front of a sellout crowd is a pretty awesome feeling, especially at this track in Reading,” Hight said. “We’re very fortunate with how consistent we’ve been running recently, but my team has a great handle on this car and that gives me confidence each round.”

Hight did a masterful job of stopping his car in Maple Grove's notoriously short shutdown when he pulled the parachutes to slow the car in the final qualifying round and they didn’t blossom.“My chutes got all tangled,” Hight said. “I was on time with the chutes, but when I hit them, they got all tangled up. That’s probably one of the biggest jolts you have in the car, when you hit those chutes, and it slams you forward. It’s negative-3 Gs, so it slams you around pretty good. So I knew instantly I didn’t have any chutes.”

The big Goodyear rear tires began to bounce, so Hight knew he had to get off the brakes, let the car settle, then get back on. “I was able to stop it,” Hight said. “It would’ve been a shame to put the quickest and fastest Funny Car in history in the sand.”

Hight made four passes of 3.921 seconds or quicker this weekend, securing 10 qualifying bonus points as crew chief Jimmy Prock continues to tune his car to quick times.“It’s actually amazing,” Hight said. “He’s just got a really good handle on this thing. When he can run this thing, and run within a hundredth of what he goes up there to run, it just shows he’s got a great handle on this thing. It makes me confident. I’ve got to do my job.” 

Even the Q4 run that nearly ended in disaster, 3.907 seconds at 330.88 mph, was second-best for the round. “It was still good for No. 2 of the session, so we picked up two points,” Hight said. “That’s 10 out of 12 possible, so I’d say job well done by the Auto Club team. That’s exactly what we’ve got to do.”

Hight came into the race as the Funny Car points leader, having won in Charlotte to kick off the Countdown to the Championship. He added eight points to his lead, which is now 52 points, through qualifying and draws Mike Smith in the first round of eliminations on Sunday.

Matt Hagan has the No. 2 spot after a 3.874 pass at 335.82 in his Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T on Friday and defending world champion Ron Capps rounds out the top three after a 3.877 at 327.43. Hagan is set to take on Jeff Diehl, while Capps faces off against Jim Campbell in the first round.

Clay Millican secured his fourth Top Fuel No. 1 qualifier of the season and ninth of his career after racing to a 3.699-second pass at 327.27 mph in his Great Clips/Parts Plus dragster on Friday.

“I’m very excited because we know that this No. 1 qualifier is a big deal, it puts us in a good spot on the ladder for tomorrow and we want to move up in the points after this race,” Millican said. “We’ve definitely been pushing it each round, trying to see what we can get away with on a hot track like this but we will be happy with our bonus points today.”

Points leader Doug Kalitta wound up in the second slot with a 3.704 at a national record-matching 333.66 mph in his Mac Tools dragster. Kalitta will go head-to-head with Pennsylvania native and Top Fuel rookie Audrey Worm in round one. Steve Torrence sits in third after a 3.720 at 327.66 pass on Friday and is set to face Terry Haddock.

Bo Butner

In Pro Stock Car, Bo Butner held onto the top spot after driving to a 6.554 at 210.18in his Jim Butner’s Auto Chevrolet Camaro during his first pass on Friday. He locked down his fourth No. 1 qualifier of 2017 and seventh of his career as he aims for his fourth win of the season. Butner will line-up with Val Smeland in the first round of eliminations.

“We feel pretty lucky that the run from yesterday held up, but we were happy with these last four consistent rounds and we would be happy with runs like that again tomorrow,” Butner said. “I’ve got a great car and a great team, and I’m really excited to hit the track tomorrow.”

Jason Line notched the second qualifying spot after a 6.562 at 210.70 in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro. He will take on Alan Prusiensky in the first round. Points leader and rookie Tanner Gray ran a 6.565 at 210.44 to round out the top three and will prepare to race Larry Morgan in round one of eliminations.

Eliminations at the 33rd annual Dodge NHRA Nationals begin at noon on Sunday. Catch the action live at 4:30 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1.

Sunday's first-round pairings for eliminations for the 33rd annual Dodge NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway, the 20th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.
Pairings based on results in qualifying, which ended Saturday. DNQs listed below pairings.

Pro Stock Motorcycle -- 1. Scotty Pollacheck, Suzuki, 6.822, 196.76 vs. 16. Andie Rawlings, Suzuki, 7.786, 171.34; 2. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.824, 196.76 vs. 15. Lance Bonham, Buell, 7.203, 186.87; 3. Hector Arana Jr, Buell, 6.834, 196.76 vs. 14. Charles Sullivan, Buell, 7.008, 189.82; 4. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.841, 197.19 vs. 13. Kelly Clontz, Suzuki, 6.956, 193.82; 5.
Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.861, 197.51 vs. 12. Ron Tornow, Buell, 6.953, 192.85; 6. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.862, 195.14 vs. 11. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.947, 193.65; 7. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.864, 195.82 vs. 10. Angie Smith, Buell, 6.895, 193.49; 8. Matt Smith, Victory, 6.869,
193.40 vs. 9. Joey Gladstone, Suzuki, 6.878, 194.97. 

Top Fuel -- 1. Clay Millican, 3.699 seconds, 327.27 mph vs. Bye; 2. Doug Kalitta, 3.704, 333.66 vs. 15. Audrey Worm, 6.442, 106.43; 3. Steve Torrence, 3.720, 327.66 vs. 14. Terry Haddock, 3.939, 303.57; 4. Brittany Force, 3.730, 327.90 vs. 13. Wayne Newby, 3.878, 319.14; 5. Tony Schumacher, 3.736, 330.23 vs. 12. Scott Palmer, 3.805, 324.44; 6. Leah Pritchett, 3.741, 328.14 vs. 11. Terry McMillen, 3.796, 324.59; 7. Dom Lagana, 3.762, 320.36 vs. 10. Shawn Langdon, 3.780, 326.56; 8.
Antron Brown, 3.766, 326.71 vs. 9. Richie Crampton, 3.767, 282.60. 

Funny Car -- 1. Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 3.844, 339.02 vs. 16. Mike Smith, Dodge Stratus, 6.251, 114.41; 2. Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 3.874, 335.82 vs. 15. Jeff Diehl, Toyota Solara, 4.775, 188.81; 3. Ron Capps, Charger, 3.877, 332.10 vs. 14. Jim Campbell, Charger, 4.064, 309.27; 4. Jonnie Lindberg, Toyota Camry, 3.895, 331.53 vs. 13. John Force, Camaro, 3.978, 324.12; 5. Jack Beckman, Charger, 3.914, 331.20 vs. 12. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 3.963, 321.35; 6. Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 3.914, 330.39 vs. 11. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 3.957, 326.00; 7. J.R. Todd, Camry, 3.929, 326.87 vs. 10. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 3.942, 329.50; 8. Courtney Force, Camaro, 3.935, 321.88 vs. 9. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 3.937, 318.77. 

Pro Stock Car -- 1. Bo Butner, Chevy Camaro, 6.554, 210.77 vs. 16. Val Smeland, Camaro, 6.819, 202.73; 2. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.562, 211.33 vs. 15. Alan Prusiensky, Dodge Dart, 6.674, 207.91; 3. Tanner Gray, Camaro, 6.565, 210.44 vs. 14. Larry Morgan, Camaro, 6.637, 208.71; 4. Allen Johnson, Dart, 6.572, 209.95 vs. 13. Kenny Delco, Camaro, 6.623, 209.49; 5. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.578, 211.16 vs. 12. Jeg Coughlin, Camaro, 6.608, 210.50; 6. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.579, 209.85 vs. 11. Brian Self, Camaro, 6.607, 209.72; 7. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.590, 210.28 vs. 10. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.598, 210.08; 8. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.593, 210.24 vs. 9. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.594, 210.47. 
Did Not Qualify: 17. John Gaydosh Jr, 6.964, 193.60. 

It's hard to tell with his helmet and everything on, but Top Alcohol Funny Car driver John Headley is actually chuckling in this picture.

Saturday: Arana Jr. Leads at Maple Grove

Hector Arana Jr.

Hector Arana Jr. finished atop the Pro Stock Motorcycle qualifying order with a 6.834 at 196.76 in his Lucas Oil Buell during his second pass on Friday at the 33rd annual Dodge NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway near Reading, PA. “We had some data for the track despite a rough first run, and we trusted our combination to be fast and we ended up really well,” Arana Jr. said. "Plus, when you're one of the three quickest qualifiers of any session you get bonus points so we earned three right there, which, who knows, could be the difference at the end of the season. We simply cannot overlook anything and if there are points on the table, we want them."

After not getting down Maple Grove Raceway under power despite a 1.059 60 foot time in the first qualifying session early Friday afternoon, crew chief Jim Yates and crew redoubled their efforts to give Arana Jr. a perfect tune-up in Round 2. The extra work paid off with Arana running a 6.834 at 196.76 mph to pace the field.

"The clouds rolled in later in the afternoon and everyone was chasing a better tune-up," Arana Jr. said. "Our team found the right spot for the bike in relation to the conditions and it went straight down the groove. I could tell it was a good pass. I wasn't sure it would hold as the No. 1 spot since we went first in Q2 but it held, which says a lot about the work that went into that run."

Did Arana pit superchef Ade Casanola power Hector Jr. to the top of the order?

"I haven't looked at the data completely just yet but we all kind of feel like there may be more in there. We'll have to see what the weather does. We're used to cooler temps here. It's weird to see mid-80s this late in the year but we have a good hot weather tune-up, as you can see, so I feel like we'll run well no matter what happens."

Currently third in the Mello Yello title chase, 52 points out of the lead, Arana Jr. knows this weekend's event could be pivotal in the ultimate outcome. Reading is the second of six races in the Countdown to the Championship."Qualifying points are great and they definitely add up, but winning rounds on Sunday earns you 20 points at a time," Arana said. "Depending on the weather we might try some things tomorrow or we'll work on fine-tuning this Lucas Oil Buell for race day. The forecast is pretty much the same all three days here so it'll be whoever adapts the best that does well on Sunday."

Arana Jr. used to race on a three bike team before his brother Adam joined the Coast Guard and his dad Hector Sr. tore his rotator cuff this season. I asked Arana Jr. about now racing as the only rider on the Lucas Oil team. "The thing I like best is that I always get the best motor," he laughed.

Yeah I know, this photo cuts the top of his head off, but I really like this photo of Eddie Krawiec

Points leader Eddie Krawiec earned the second position with a 6.841 at 195.45 on his Screamin’ Eagle / Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson in round 2.

Scotty Pollacheck

Scotty Pollacheck took the third spot after a 6.850 at 195.90 (and a 1.056 60 foot) right off the trailer. Pollacheck veered out of the groove in Q2 and had to cut gas.

Pollacheck's teammate Karen Stoffer sits fifth with a 6.862 on what was a very good day for her husband/tuner Gary and fellow tuner Greg Underdahl

Joey Gladstone and tuner Joe Riccardi were hot off the trailer, running a 6.87 for third in Q1 that held up for 7th at the end of the day. Their 1.053 60 foot was best of the round. Yet here, Riccardi seems to be saying "Look at it Joey, look at it dammit! Look up!"

Jerry Savoie and teammate LE Tonglet found themselves in the rare position of being the 4th and 5th Suzukis in the field, 9th and 10th overall

Lance Bonham and Andie Rawlings exchange fistbumps 'cuz they know they're in the field

Robert Hight and teammate Courtney Force in last week's final at zMAX

Robert Hight broke both ends of the track record with a 3.844-second pass at 339.02 mph in his Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro, the second-fastest speed in NHRA history. The previous Maple Grove Raceway elapsed time record was a 3.850-second pass, while the previous speed record was 333.99, both from last season. 

I’m pretty excited that we’re having these conditions in Reading, because it’s very similar to what we had last week in Charlotte where we got the win,” Hight said. “It wasn’t like you had to come in here and make major changes from how you would normally make changes coming into Reading, since it’s usually cool."

With a swap of dates, Reading was moved to earlier in the year, and the weather reflected that. Temperatures were in the 80s on Friday, but that didn’t slow down Hight and crew chief Jimmy Prock. Hight was No. 2 after the first qualifying session and then led Q2, picking up a handful of bonus points."

“We got five points today, and that’s what you have to do, pick up points,” Hight said. “We’re taking it run-by-run. It’s going to be really hard to have six really good races. You’re bound to have one (bad one). You don’t want a bad one obviously, but if you can get a lot of those qualifying points, it’s going to make up for having a bad race.”

Hight is aiming for his sixth No. 1 qualifier of the season en route to his second consecutive win in the Countdown to the Championship.

Matt Hagan currently sits at second in the preliminary Funny Car qualifying after a 3.874 pass at 335.82 in his Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T, while defending world champion Ron Capps is in the third slot after a 3.877 at 327.43 from his second pass of the day. Charlotte finalist Courtney Force sits in the No. 7 spot after Q2, making a run of 3.935 seconds at 321.88 mph in the Advance Auto Parts Chevrolet. Her dad, PEAK Coolant & Motor Oil Chevrolet driver John Force, is qualified in the No. 12 spot after a top pass of 3.978 seconds at 324.12 mph.

Clay Millican at Bristol, a race he won

Clay Millican, currently sixth in the Top Fuel points standings, raced to a 3.699 pass at 327.27 in his Parts Plus / Great Clips dragster. He is looking for his fourth No. 1 qualifier of the season. “Our crew chief was actually disappointed with the run, because we thought we would run faster but it was still a good run and we’re aiming for every bonus point we can possibly get,” Millican said. “Every lap we’re going to push for those bonus points, so we know we will need those throughout the rest of the Countdown.”

Points leader Doug Kalitta wound up in the second slot after the first day of qualifying with a 3.704 at 333.66 in his Mac Tools dragster. Steve Torrence currently sits in third after a 3.720 at 327.66. Brittany Force, a semifinalist in Charlotte, made two good runs Friday and sits No. 4 in Top Fuel with the Monster Energy dragster. Her best pass of 3.731 seconds at 314.53 mph came in the second session. 

Bo Butner pullin' the wheels at Norwalk

In Pro Stock, Bo Butner currently holds the top spot after driving to a 6.554 at 210.18 in his Jim Butner’s Auto Chevrolet Camaro during his first pass of the day. He is seeking his fourth No. 1 qualifier of 2017.“We feel great after today since our car ran so well, we have room for improvement but that’s what we’re looking for this weekend,” Butner said. “Our cars seem to like these hotter tracks, so we’re very excited to come back out tomorrow to try and make some improvements.”

Jason Line notched the second preliminary qualifying spot after a 6.563 at 210.54 in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro. Points leader Tanner Gray ran a 6.565 at 210.44 to round out the top three on the day.

Friday's results after the first two of four rounds of qualifying for the 33rd annual Dodge NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway, 20th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Qualifying will continue Saturday for Sunday's final eliminations.

Pro Stock Motorcycle -- 1. Hector Arana Jr, Buell, 6.834, 196.76; 2. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.841, 197.13; 3. Scotty Pollacheck, Suzuki, 6.850, 195.90; 4. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.861, 197.51; 5. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.862, 194.02; 6. Matt Smith, Victory, 6.869, 193.40; 7. Joey Gladstone, Suzuki, 6.878, 194.97; 8. Angie Smith, Buell, 6.895, 193.49; 9. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.896, 194.46; 10. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.899, 193.13; 11. Ron Tornow, Buell, 6.953, 192.00; 12. Kelly Clontz, Suzuki, 6.956, 193.82; 13. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 7.003, 178.14; 14. Charles Sullivan, Buell, 7.013, 189.82; 15. Lance Bonham, Buell, 7.203, 186.87; 16. Andie Rawlings, Suzuki, 7.786, 170.95.

Top Fuel -- 1. Clay Millican, 3.699 seconds, 327.27 mph; 2. Doug Kalitta, 3.704, 333.66; 3. Steve Torrence, 3.720, 327.66; 4. Brittany Force, 3.731, 327.90; 5. Leah Pritchett, 3.741, 328.14; 6.
Tony Schumacher, 3.747, 329.42; 7. Dom Lagana, 3.762, 320.36; 8. Antron Brown, 3.766, 326.71; 9. Richie Crampton, 3.767, 282.60; 10. Scott Palmer, 3.805, 324.44; 11. Wayne Newby, 3.878, 319.14; 12. Terry Haddock, 3.939, 303.57; 13. Shawn Langdon, 4.614, 160.67; 14. Terry McMillen, 4.624, 162.90. 

Funny Car -- 1. Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 3.844, 339.02; 2. Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 3.874, 335.82; 3. Ron Capps, Charger, 3.877, 327.43; 4. Jack Beckman, Charger, 3.914, 330.55; 5. Alexis DeJoria, Toyota Camry, 3.914, 330.39; 6. J.R. Todd, Camry, 3.929, 326.87; 7. Courtney Force, Camaro, 3.935, 321.88; 8. Bob Tasca III, Ford Mustang, 3.937, 318.77; 9. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 3.942, 329.50; 10. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 3.957, 326.00; 11. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 3.963, 321.35; 12. John Force, Camaro, 3.978, 324.12; 13. Jonnie Lindberg, Camry, 3.992, 323.43; 14. Jim Campbell, Charger, 4.177, 301.87; 15. Mike Smith, Dodge Stratus, 7.749, 85.11. 

Pro Stock -- 1. Bo Butner, Chevy Camaro, 6.554, 210.21; 2. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.563, 210.54; 3. Tanner Gray, Camaro, 6.565, 210.44; 4. Allen Johnson, Dodge Dart, 6.572, 209.95; 5. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.578, 211.16; 6. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.593, 210.24; 7. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.594, 210.47; 8. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.600, 209.95; 9. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.600, 209.82; 10. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.602, 210.28; 11. Brian Self, Camaro, 6.607, 209.72; 12. Jeg Coughlin, Camaro, 6.621, 210.50; 13. Larry Morgan, Camaro, 6.637, 208.71; 14. Kenny Delco, Camaro, 6.664, 207.50; 15. Alan Prusiensky, Dart, 6.674, 207.91; 16. Val Smeland, Camaro, 6.844, 202.15. 

Qualifying at the 33rd annual Dodge NHRA Nationals continues at 12:45 and 3:15 p.m. on Saturday.