CLERMONT, Ind. -- Defending Top Fuel winner Cory McClenathan drove the Joe Gibbs-owned MBNA dragster to the top of the order Friday to open qualifying for the 46th annual U.S. Nationals, the world's most prestigious drag race. Tommy Johnson Jr., Kurt Johnson, Antron Brown and John Lingenfelter also were among qualifying leaders in their respective categories at the $2.6 million race, the 17th of 23 events in the $45 million NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series.
McClenathan, from Anaheim, Calif., covered the Indianapolis Raceway Park quarter-mile in 4.655 seconds at 317.57 mph to lead the 16-car field.
"I'm glad we step up at the big races," said McClenathan, also a winner here in 1996. "It means a lot to come out on the first day and be the quickest car. I think that time will be good enough to keep us in the top three or four."
Ottumwa, Iowa's Johnson led Funny Car qualifying, clocking a 4.963 at 301.27 in the Hofmann Racing Pontiac Firebird.
"I'm pretty excited because I was really hoping for a 5.0-second run," said Johnson, who also led qualifying here last year after the first session. "This team is really starting to gel. We started to run pretty good at Brainerd (Minn.), so we just decided to leave the car alone."
In Pro Stock, Lawrenceville, Ga.'s Johnson posted a quick lap of 6.986 at 197.39 in his AC Delco Chevy Camaro.
Brown, from Chesterfield, N.J., had the quickest Pro Stock Motorcycle effort, recording a best of 7.324 at 182.70 on his Team 23 Suzuki. Defending event champion Matt Hines, who will lead the eight-bike Holley Pro Stock Dominator Duel field into eliminations Saturday, qualified second with a 7.364 at 178.24.
NHRA: 10 Most Recent Entries
Jan 19- Gateway Motorsports Park, Gateway Kartplex will have a Significant =
Jan 19- BIR's 2017 Schedule is Heavy on Variety Again
Jan 19- NHRA Announces Jet Car Program Expansion for 2017 Season
Jan 18- NHRA on Fox to Feature 16 Live Sunday Eliminations Shows
Jan 17- FEATURE- Nitro Hat Trick Part IV
Jan 14- FEATURE- Nitro Hat Trick Part III
Jan 13- POMONA 1 - Event Preview
Jan 13- DSR Machinist Berryhill Wins Chili Bowl Wednesday A Main
Jan 12- FEATURE- Nitro Hat Trick Part II
Jan 11- NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Points and Qualifying Procedures Changed for Upcoming Season