INDIANAPOLIS – Courtney Force and Erica Enders continue to make history.
The two became the first women to win the same NHRA national event when they shared victory lane in Seattle last month. Saturday, they became the first women to win No. 1 qualifiers for the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway.
Force held on to her No. 1 in Funny Car from last weekend, when rain postponed the race and re-opened qualifying. Enders did the same in Pro Stock, though her road was a tad harder, as she had slipped to fifth after Saturday's first qualifying session and was 11th rolling through the waterbox for her final attempt.
Shawn Langdon (Top Fuel) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also will lead their categories into Sunday's eliminations at the rain-delayed NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event, the final race of the regular season.
"It was awesome holding onto the top spot," Force said. "We set the No. 1 with the 4.04 last week and we had to sit around for a week and hope that no one was going to take that from us today. There was a lot of anticipation and frustration. I wanted that No. 1 spot. It is Indy. It is the biggest race of the season.
"It was even bigger since I got the No. 1 spot with Erica Enders. It seems like we are linked to a lot of history; the win in Seattle and now this No. 1."
Force's best lap was 4.049 seconds at 317.27 mph in her Traxxas Ford as she won the first pole of her young career.
"We just clinched a spot in the Countdown (to the Championship), and that's a huge deal," Force said. "It's my rookie season, and I didn't know exactly what to expect. If someone would've told me that I'd have a spot in the Countdown and qualified No. 1 for Indy, I don't know if I would've believed them. This season is going better than I could've asked for it to be because I have a great team behind me."
Force, whose older sister Ashley Force Hood won Indy in 2009 and 2010, edged Don Schumacher Racing teammates Jack Beckman (4.051 at 302.62 mph) and Ron Capps (4.053 at 313.80 mph) for the No. 1. She squares off against Jon Capps in the first round of eliminations, as Capps qualified No. 16 with a lap of 4.194 seconds at 287.66 mph.
Enders won her second consecutive pole and fifth of her blossoming career with a pass of 6.550 seconds at 210.80 mph in her KLR Group Chevrolet. She edged Mike Edwards (6.555 at 211.13 mph) and Greg Anderson (6.556 at 210.87 mph) – who had been No. 1 after Q3.
"I'm just really excited to have taken it back," Enders said. "After that first session, I was a little ticked. I wanted it. I've always wanted to qualify No. 1 here since I was a little kid. To be able to steal it back is pretty awesome."
Enders now looks to become the first female winner in Pro Stock at the U.S. Nationals, and she faces Kurt Johnson (No. 16 with a pass of 6.622 seconds at 208.07 mph) in round one.
"I'm really optimistic and excited about what's going on within our team and on the race track," said Enders, who won the last two Pro Stock races and three of the last six. "We've got a lot of good things in the works. This is something we've been working on so hard for a few years. To see it finally come together, I'm proud for my guys. They really deserve it. They work so hard.
"I have all the faith in them and me as a driver and our performance on the race track, so I do believe we can."
Enders and Force are looking to join Shirley Muldowney (Top Fuel), Force Hood (Funny Car) and Angelle Sampey (Pro Stock Motorcycle) as female winners of the U.S. Nationals.
Langdon claimed his second No. 1 effort of the season and third of his career by posting the fourth-quickest run in Top Fuel history near the end of the final qualifying session. Langdon covered the distance in 3.740 seconds at 326.48 mph in his Al-Anabi Racing dragster and will meet Scott Palmer (No. 16 with a run of 3.900 at 310.70 mph) in the first round.
"We've been working on it all year, and we have a great group of guys who work on the car and understand that (team manager) Alan (Johnson) will get it figured out," Langdon said. "It's starting to pay off now. We're making some good runs. Winning here would be a great place to start.
"We've talked about trying to win a race before the Countdown just to get over that hill, and this is obviously the biggest race of the year. To get a win here would not only build confidence, but also set us on the right foot going into Charlotte for the start of the Countdown."
Hines rode his Screamin' Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson to his second No. 1 qualifying position of the season and 32nd of his career in Pro Stock Motorcycle.
"This has been one track that has been a nemesis to us," Hines said. "We've had a great history here with the bonus events, the best that Pro Stock bike has had. But unfortunately we've never been able to find the winner's circle here at Indy. So that's our goal here. Our V-Rod is running very strong, and I made one of our best runs in that last session to get the No. 1 spot back."
Hines' best pass was 6.861 seconds at 194.86 mph as he edged Hector Arana Sr. (6.881 at 193.63 mph) and Harley teammate Eddie Krawiec (6.886 at 195.28 mph). The Harleys have won all nine races this season, and Hines looks to make it 10 when he opens eliminations against Dawn Minturn (No. 16 with a lap of 7.044 seconds at 183.27 mph.
Several drivers clinched Countdown spots Saturday, including Funny Car drivers John Force and Cruz Pedregon, Pro Stock driver Ron Krisher and Pro Stock Motorcycle riders Scotty Pollacheck and L.E. Tonglet.
Several teams will be battling to qualify for the final Countdown positions Sunday, as Bob Vandergriff, Clay Millican and Khalid alBalooshi will be racing for the last spot in Top Fuel; Jeff Arend, Bob Tasca, Tim Wilkerson and Matt Hagan are competing for the final two spots in Funny Car; V Gaines, Larry Morgan and Jeg Coughlin are racing for the final two spots in Pro Stock; and Michael Ray, Matt Smith, Shawn Gann, Steve Johnson and John Hall are in contention for the final three playoff spots in Pro Stock Motorcycle.
1. Shawn Langdon, 3.740 seconds, 326.48 mph vs. 16. Scott Palmer, 3.900, 311.13; 2. Spencer Massey, 3.762, 324.51 vs. 15. Clay Millican, 3.894, 316.30; 3. Antron Brown, 3.762, 322.50 vs. 14. T.J. Zizzo, 3.861, 315.12; 4. Tony Schumacher, 3.772, 326.79 vs. 13. Hillary Will, 3.860, 308.92; 5. Morgan Lucas, 3.792, 317.57 vs. 12. David Grubnic, 3.844, 317.79; 6. J.R. Todd, 3.814, 322.19 vs. 11. Steve Torrence, 3.834, 316.82; 7. Khalid alBalooshi, 3.817, 320.97 vs. 10. Bob Vandergriff, 3.830, 322.73; 8. Doug Kalitta, 3.823, 322.58 vs. 9. Brandon Bernstein, 3.829, 321.19. Did Not Qualify: 17. Tommy Johnson, 3.939, 306.53; 18. Keith Murt, 3.940, 299.66; 19. Terry McMillen, 3.972, 311.49; 20. Luigi Novelli, 3.997, 263.67; 21. Ike Maier, 4.017, 309.63; 22. Chris Karamesines, 4.126, 289.32; 23. Pat Dakin, 8.118, 312.35; 24. Cory McClenathan, 9.874, 295.08.
1. Courtney Force, Ford Mustang, 4.049, 317.27 vs. 16. Jon Capps, Dodge Charger, 4.194, 290.94; 2. Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.051, 310.70 vs. 15. Todd Lesenko, Chevy Impala, 4.173, 296.05; 3. Ron Capps, Charger, 4.053, 313.80 vs. 14. Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.119, 307.65; 4. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.060, 306.60 vs. 13. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 4.091, 308.21; 5. Alexis DeJoria, Toyota Camry, 4.064, 314.39 vs. 12. Jeff Arend, Camry, 4.088, 311.20; 6. Robert Hight, Mustang, 4.065, 310.63 vs. 11. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 4.082, 308.07; 7. Tony Pedregon, Camry, 4.070, 308.78 vs. 10. Mike Neff, Mustang, 4.080, 310.98; 8. John Force, Mustang, 4.077, 314.83 vs. 9. Johnny Gray, Charger, 4.079, 317.19. Did Not Qualify: 17. Bob Bode, 4.213, 292.58; 18. Blake Alexander, 4.220, 280.25; 19. Jim Head, 4.240, 292.33; 20. Terry Haddock, 5.241, 231.56; 21. Justin Schriefer, 6.705, 81.11.
1. Erica Enders, Chevy Cobalt, 6.550, 210.80 vs. 16. Kurt Johnson, Pontiac GXP, 6.622, 208.14; 2. Mike Edwards, GXP, 6.555, 211.13 vs. 15. Dave Connolly, Cobalt, 6.622, 209.23; 3. Greg Anderson, Chevy Camaro, 6.556, 211.06 vs. 14. Larry Morgan, Ford Mustang, 6.621, 208.10; 4. Allen Johnson, Dodge Avenger, 6.564, 210.50 vs. 13. Greg Stanfield, Camaro, 6.618, 207.72; 5. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.569, 210.83 vs. 12. V. Gaines, Avenger, 6.606, 209.30; 6. Vincent Nobile, Avenger, 6.571, 210.44 vs. 11. Mark Martino, GXP, 6.604, 209.59; 7. Ron Krisher, GXP, 6.578, 209.88 vs. 10. Warren Johnson, GXP, 6.603, 209.07; 8. Jeg Coughlin, Avenger, 6.594, 209.43 vs. 9. Rodger Brogdon, Camaro, 6.598, 209.17. Did Not Qualify: 17. Ronnie Humphrey, 6.625, 209.04; 18. Jerry Eckman, 6.633, 208.20; 19. Richard Freeman, 6.644, 208.23; 20. Shane Gray, 6.667, 207.91; 21. Lewis Worden, 6.686, 205.76; 22. Steve Schmidt, 10.293, 203.49.
Pro Stock Motorcycle
1. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.861, 194.86 vs. 16. Dawn Minturn, Suzuki, 7.044, 187.47; 2. Hector Arana, Buell, 6.881, 195.11 vs. 15. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 7.042, 192.06; 3. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.886, 195.28 vs. 14. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 7.034, 191.29; 4. Hector Arana Jr, Buell, 6.897, 193.43 vs. 13. Mike Berry, Buell, 7.014, 189.55; 5. Matt Smith, Buell, 6.902, 193.90 vs. 12. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.978, 190.22; 6. Scotty Pollacheck, Buell, 6.930, 190.32 vs. 11. John Hall, Buell, 6.976, 189.18; 7. Michael Ray, Buell, 6.934, 190.32 vs. 10. Shawn Gann, Buell, 6.974, 192.28; 8. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.941, 192.96 vs. 9. Chip Ellis, Buell, 6.971, 190.43. Did Not Qualify: 17. Michael Phillips, 7.099, 189.28; 18. Redell Harris, 7.113, 189.87; 19. Katie Sullivan, 7.173, 187.29; 20. Wesley Wells, 9.323, 168.26; 21. Kieth Burley, 12.321, 63.07.