Marc Ingwersen is MY #1 Qualifier

On what drag racing planet can you just opt not to make a pass and qualify ahead of those who did? Apparently, the 2022 NHRA Gatornationals is that planet.

Two pairs opened up NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle qualifying when Michael Phillips—in the second pair—oiled the right lane. It was chilly, but no where near nighttime at Rockingham or Valdosta in November cold. An hour after the debacle, my app still showed 50 degrees.

This is how it ended

Some of the remaining, unqualified riders decided it was unsafe and they didn’t want to make a pass. Some, including Ryan Oehler, Chris Bostick, and Joey Gladstone, passionately wanted to make their runs. I’m told a total of five riders wanted otherwise, and NHRA let those five decide for the whole class. Regardless of the actual number, the Fox commentating was fake news—there was no unanimous decision.

The impromptu meeting of unqualified riders at the starting line

Let’s be clear—I don’t blame the riders that didn’t want to run. I blame NHRA for 1) allowing some to decide for all; and 2) just pretending that the qualifying runs that were made never happened and lining riders up by 2021 points. That’s bullshit.

Everyone who wanted a different outcome should have gone straight to Race Control and made their demands heard. That includes the riders who wanted their passes and didn’t get them. That also includes Marc Ingwersen (featured photo at the top of the page), who should be interviewed with a #1 qualifier’s hat on following his 6.98. Also David Barron and Lance Bonham and….well, maybe it’s best Michael didn’t go up to Race Control following that oildown. Mike was thrown under the bus by the Fox on-air staff. His reply to me about that was:

The NHRA press release for the night didn’t even bother to include the PSM order, ladder, or interview with anointed #1 qualifier Matt Smith. They know that after fans waited out all of this weekend’s rain, they made a bullshit call that doesn’t deserve a place in stat records.

The first round of the Pep Boys NHRA Top Fuel All-Star Callout also took place on Saturday at Gainesville Raceway, with Steve Torrence, Brittany Force, Mike Salinas and Justin Ashley all earning victories. The final two rounds of the specialty event will be completed at the Dodge Power Brokers U.S. Nationals Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park in September.

In Top Fuel qualifying, Antron Brown, Leah Pruett, and Shawn Langdon DNQed while Tripp Tatum qualified #1 with a new track record—so maybe we were indeed on another planet.

Tripp Tatum

Tatum earned his first career No. 1 qualifier, making the quickest run in track history with a stellar run of 3.674 at 331.53. It was an incredible display for Tatum, who earned the No. 1 spot in just his 12th career start. He opens eliminations against Lex Joon with the opportunity to pick up his first victory after setting a track record at a historic facility.

“It definitely hasn’t set in yet,” Tatum said. “For me it’s just a whirlwind. Me and the guys were talking about slowing it down and just getting down the track with conditions being as they are and not really knowing the track. Safety Safari doing what they did is just amazing, and the racetrack ended up being far better than we thought it would be. In my mind, I thought we were just going to slide the car down there and try for an upper .70 and when I left the starting line I thought, ‘This thing’s kind of running good.’ It went down there pretty good.”

Brittany Force broke the track speed record during her first-round win in the Pep Boys NHRA Top Fuel All-Star Callout, knocking off Antron Brown with a run of 3.684 at 337.75 to also qualify second. By making the quickest run in the opening round, Force will have her choice of opponent in the semifinals in the specialty race. Torrence, who was the top seed Pep Boys NHRA Top Fuel All-Star Callout, went 3.697 at 329.50 to knock off Leah Pruett. The run also gave him the third spot in qualifying. Justin Ashley’s 3.722 at 330.96 gave him the win over Doug Kalitta to round out the first-round winners.

Top Fuel — 1. Tripp Tatum, 3.674 seconds, 331.53 mph vs. 16. Lex Joon, 4.060, 295.66; 2. Brittany Force, 3.684, 337.75 vs. 15. Clay Millican, 4.056, 248.52; 3. Steve Torrence, 3.697, 329.50 vs. 14. Tony Schumacher, 3.983, 266.32; 4. Mike Salinas, 3.709, 332.10 vs. 13. Krista Baldwin, 3.865, 297.55; 5. Doug Kalitta, 3.718, 330.47 vs. 12. Alex Laughlin, 3.858, 319.98; 6. Justin Ashley, 3.722, 330.96 vs. 11. Josh Hart, 3.783, 306.88; 7. Spencer Massey, 3.735, 324.12 vs. 10. Doug Foley, 3.775, 313.44; 8. Austin Prock, 3.761, 326.71 vs. 9. Billy Torrence, 3.763, 328.78.

Did Not Qualify: 17. Antron Brown, 5.056, 168.20; 18. Leah Pruett, 5.125, 227.34; 19. Ike Maier, 5.901, 202.67; 20. Arthur Allen, broke; 21. Shawn Langdon, broke.

Robert Hight

In the lone qualifying session of the weekend, Hight impressed once again with a run of 3.831-seconds at 333.41 mph in his Auto Club Chevrolet Camaro SS, picking up his first No. 1 qualifier of the season and the 72nd in his career. After picking up wins at the first two races of the year, Hight will try to remain perfect on Sunday in Gainesville, opening the first round of eliminations against John Smith.

“Honestly, I wasn’t expecting to be No. 1,” Hight said. “We just needed to make a good run, so we have a solid baseline for tomorrow. Tomorrow, we’ll have to pick it up a little bit but when we do that, it’s going to run even better. This thing is amazing – 14 out of 15 runs it’s gone in the 3.80s. Good job to the Auto Club team but really who deserves an ‘atta boy’ is NHRA. What they did after all the rain that has fallen on this thing after all these days and the rubber coming off, and to get the track where you could run a Funny Car 3.83 is pretty amazing.”

Tim Wilkerson took the second spot with a 3.891 at 328.22 and Cruz Pedregon is third after his run of 3.891 at 327.35.

Funny Car — 1. Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 3.831, 333.41 vs. 16. John Smith, Dodge Charger, 9.754, 102.99; 2. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 3.891, 328.22 vs. 15. John Force, Camaro, 8.924, 75.58; 3. Cruz Pedregon, Charger, 3.891, 327.35 vs. 14. Jim Campbell, Charger, 8.903, 68.36; 4. Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.898, 320.13 vs. 13. Dave Richards, Mustang, 8.773, 85.61; 5. Alexis DeJoria, Toyota Supra, 3.907, 326.40 vs. 12. Terry Haddock, Mustang, 8.436, 87.67; 6. Blake Alexander, Mustang, 3.918, 319.98 vs. 11. J.R. Todd, Supra, 8.381, 86.92; 7. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 4.057, 249.63 vs. 10. Ron Capps, Charger, 7.487, 90.36; 8. Chad Green, Mustang, 4.075, 313.66 vs. 9. Paul Lee, Charger, 4.495, 200.44.

Aaron Stanfield

In Pro Stock Car, Stanfield finished off the record-breaking day by making the quickest run in the history of electronic fuel injection in the class, going a remarkable 6.468 at 211.66 in his Janac Brothers Chevrolet Camaro, also setting the track record. It gave Stanfield, the points leader, his second career No. 1 qualifier and another standout run in a year that has already included a win and a pair of final rounds. He’ll open eliminations against Stefan Ernryd looking for a second straight victory.

“It was awesome,” said Stanfield. “I’m sure the crew chiefs were a little nervous up there. We had some really good weather conditions, and I had all the conference in the world in my team.”

Pro Stock — 1. Aaron Stanfield, Chevy Camaro, 6.468, 211.66 vs. 16. Stefan Emryd, Dodge Dart, 6.989, 188.86; 2. Kyle Koretsky, Camaro, 6.482, 212.06 vs. 15. Fernando Cuadra, Ford Mustang, 6.577, 210.24; 3. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.510, 211.89 vs. 14. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.571, 209.92; 4. Rodger Brogdon, Camaro, 6.510, 210.31 vs. 13. Fernando Cuadra Jr., Mustang, 6.556, 210.11; 5. Deric Kramer, Camaro, 6.511, 211.63 vs. 12. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.549, 210.44; 6. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.511, 211.10 vs. 11. Mason McGaha, Camaro, 6.534, 210.31; 7. Camrie Caruso, Camaro, 6.516, 210.70 vs. 10. Cristian Cuadra, Mustang, 6.528, 211.43; 8. Dallas Glenn, Camaro, 6.524, 209.43 vs. 9. Troy Coughlin Jr., Camaro, 6.528, 211.93.

Did Not Qualify: 17. Val Smeland, 7.241, 202.88; 18. Chris McGaha, 9.387, 130.56; 19. Alan Prusiensky, 9.532, 99.36; 20. Larry Morgan, 12.341, 116.11.

Eliminations for the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals are scheduled for 11 a.m. ET on Sunday at Gainesville Raceway.

story by Tim Hailey and NHRA with photos by Dwayne Culpepper and NHRA

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