For the first time in two years, the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) returned to Brainerd International Raceway located in Brainerd, Minnesota after last year’s cancellation due to COVID-19. In this year’s event, there are only two professional classes of racing that include Funny Car and Top Fuel. There are no Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycles.
After holding the top of the points standings for eight straight weeks, Bob Tasca III has dipped to fourth in the championship points standings following a quarterfinal loss to Ron Capps in Pomona and a first-round loss to John Force Racing’s Robert Hight. Looking to bounce back from a few weeks of disappointment, Tasca III returned on Friday hoping to set the pace in qualifying.
The Motorcraft/Quicken Lane Ford did just that in the first round of qualifying when Tasca III posted a time of 3.941 seconds and 326.63 mph to set the provisional No. 1 qualifier. In addition, Tasca III gained three additional bonus points for his effort. Should he hang on to the No. 1 qualifier spot, it will be Tasca’s seventh No. 1 qualifier of his career and the second of the season.
“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.”
However, he’ll have his work cut out for him as a cold front will sweep across the area tonight and bring cooler temperatures for the rest of the qualifying rounds.
Last week’s winner and current Funny Car Championship Points leader John Force laid down a time of 3.968 seconds and 322.42 mph. This weekend’s race will mark Force’s 801st career start in Funny Car. If Force goes all four rounds, the final round will be the 2,000th round elimination of his illustrious career.
“Good day today,” Force, the Topeka, Kansas winner, said. “Avoided the rain, got the car down clean. It’s a great car. Danny Hood and Tim Fabrisi have this PEAK Chevy under control. Now I just have to do my job. Loved seeing all the fans in the sands. It was a good session, pretty much everyone made it down, so we put on a show. We’ve got two more runs tomorrow to set us up for race day, so we’ll see how it goes.”
Funny Car Qualifying Rd. 1 Results
- Bob Tasca III, 3.941 and 326.63 mph
- Alexis DeJoria, 3.963 and 297.22 mph
- John Force, 3.968 and 322.42 mph
- J.R. Todd, 3.970 and 321.73 mph
- Robert Hight, 3.971 and 307.22 mph
- Cruz Pedregon, 3.995 and 318.47 mph
- Blake Alexander, 3.995 and 315.78 mph
- Paul Lee, 4.004 and 320.43 mph
- Tim Wilkerson, 4.031 and 318.24 mph
- Matt Hagan, 4.173 and 237.63 mph
- Jim Campbell, 4.230 and 238.38 mph
- Dale Creasy Jr, 4.241 seconds and 251.2 mph
- Ron Capps, 4.385 seconds and 202.15 mph
- Gary Densham, 10.234 seconds and 89.22 mph
Top Fuel qualifying certainly had some interesting results following their initial qualifying run Friday afternoon, which featured the return of T.J. Zizzo.
Zizzo was making his first Top Fuel start in 10 months and had a solo run in qualifying. Zizzo put a time of 3.861 seconds and 317.87 mph.
“It feels great,” Zizzo said about making his Top Fuel return at Brainerd. “You gotta remember, I haven’t done this (driven a Top Fuel car) for 10 months. We have a crosswind here and we’re trying new things, so they just made it easy for me. We went straight down the groove, no issues once so ever. The car went a little right when I went past the grandstands, but I think that worked out well as I went down the racetrack. It feels great to stand on the gas in one of these things (Top Fuel dragster).”
With Zizzo having a good solid run in his first race back, the current No. 1 qualifier in Top Fuel is Team Scrappers Mike Salinas. Salinas and the Scrappers Racing team set a time of 3.752 seconds and 326.08 mph that put the San Jose, California native at the top of the board.
“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.”
Should Salinas’ time stand following two more rounds of qualifying Saturday, the No. 1 qualifier will be his seventh of his Top Fuel career and the first of the season.
Topeka winner Brittany Force had her eyes set for the top spot, but unfortunately, her Monster Energy dragster slowed right before the finish line and set a time of 3.813 and 286.98 mph that put the California native fourth on the leaderboard. Fortunately for Force, she’ll have two more rounds to improve on her time.
“First qualifying pass here in Brainerd and our Monster Energy Flav-R-Pac team ran a 3.81. We had holes out and I lifted before the 1,000-foot but it secured us the No. 4 spot for the evening,” Force said. “The track conditions should be good tomorrow with temps cooling down. Looking forward to improving and stepping it up tomorrow.”
Top Fuel Qualifying Rd. 1 Results
- Mike Salinas, 3.752 and 326.08 mph
- Leah Pruett, 3.789 and 319.9 mph
- Justin Ashley, 3.807 and 323.74 mph
- Brittany Force, 3.813 and 286.98 mph
- Shawn Langdon, 3.851 and 298.01 mph
- T.J. Zizzo, 3.861 and 317.87 mph
- Antron Brown, 3.912 and 283.61 mph
- Doug Kalitta, 4.258 and 199.14 mph
- Steve Torrence, 4.751 and 149.91 mph
Qualifying continues Saturday afternoon with two more rounds before setting the field for Sunday’s eliminations. The second round takes place at 2 p.m. and the final round at 5:15 p.m. Central Time and can be seen live on NHRA.TV with a subscription.