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The latest update as of September 2, 2022

68th annual "Big GO!"

The first qualifying session for Top Alcohol Funny Car is underway and the first car down the track set a strong pace with a 5.595 - 261.17, as Chip Beverett made his second national event appearance of the season. To show how strong that opening shot was, none of the first four pairs (Beverett was on a solo) were able to better the e.t., despite some strong low 5.60 passes by those racers. Top Speed - so far - and we're very early in this event, is Jim Whiteley's 265.48. More, much more, to come. Stay tuned!

Stop the presses! Kyle Smith just blew Beverett's pass out of the water, blasting into the 5.40's with a very strong 5.492 - 259.71 to show everyone that they've come to Indy to run with the biggest dogs. More to come I'm sure, as Sean Bellemeur is coming to the starting line as this is being written. Hang on! Nope, it didn't happen as the "Killer B's" car shook the tires early, while Bob McCosh put down a solid 5.539 - 265.94 (new Top Speed) to move into the #2 spot on the ladder.

The final pair of the session featured D.J. Cox and Shane Westerfield, #3 and #1 respectively in the points standings, and Cox crossed the finish line first, matching McCosh's 5.539, but this time paired with another new Top Speed of 266.11 mph. That wrapped up the first round of TAFC qualifying, with Kyle Smith on top at 5.492, and Sean Bellemeur on the bump spot at 10.746. With 17 cars making the session, and ten of them in the 5.60's or better, it's already looking like it's going to be a tough field to qualify for.

Top Alcohol Dragster followed the FC's, with a very strong solo for Hunter Green, son of Nitro Funny Car racer Chad Green. His 5.302 - 269.35, in a Randy Meyer "rent-a-car", set the bar fairly high for the 20 or so cars waiting in the staging lanes to shoot for. We've now seen six pairs of dragsters go down the track.... but not quite. Jared Dreher was unable to start his A/Fuel car, and Aaron Cooper was DQ'd in the staging lanes for fuel that was too cold. Too cold? Yes, for the 2022 season, NHRA has mandated a minimum temperature of 50 (F), up substantially from the 40 degrees previously allowed. That change has caught out a few racers already this year, but it's put the Cooper team under some pressure to put a number on the scoreboard with just two more chances to qualify.

The session concluded with Matt Cummings in the McPhillips Family car on top at 5.268 - 270.59, followed closely by Mike Coughlin, at 5.292, and Shawn Cowie, with the best blown pass of 5.294 - 276.52, putting him in the #3 spot on the ladder. With a few cars smoking or shaking the tires, the bump spot sits at a rather anemic 8.24 (Jasmine Salinas), but it's certainly going to drop into the mid 5's in the second session this afternoon.

U.S. Nationals Top Alcohol - 2nd session

Things got a bunch quicker and faster the second time around for the Funny Cars and Dragsters. On the fender flopper side, the bump spot dropped from Sean Bellemeur's first session 10.746 to a more respectable 6.704, but the #15 qualifier, Brian Gawlik has already put down a 5.669 - 259.61 pass. Most of the under-achievers, with the exception of Chris Foster (8.806), got healthy in the second go-round, as nine cars ran 5.59 or better, with Kyle Smith's first session 5.492 still leading the field and the only car in the 40's.

The dragsters saw some major improvements too, as the 8.247 bubble was quickly erased with the first car down the track. Leading the 21-car session was Jared Dreher and his solid 5.534 - 261.22. The bump spot kept dropping with nearly pair down the track until Karen Stalba made the last change with her #15 qualifying 5.407 - 270.75 pushing Taylor Vetter's earlier 5.415 - 275.51 into the #16 position. The #1 spot stayed with Matt Cummings as he ran just a few hundredths slower than his first session 5.268. In fact, seven out of the top eight drivers held their positions, with Joey Severance forcing his way into that group with a very good 5.299 - 273.55 that moved him up from #8 to #4.

Footnote: Two racers experienced engine problems during the second qualifier, with Funny Car driver Brian Gawlik blowing it up BIG at the conclusion of a 5.701 - 231.04 run, and blown alky dragster racer Shawn Cowie losing another engine (he's had a rash of that lately) at the 1000' mark, slowing him to a 5.468 - 218.19 clocking. Fortunately, veryone has until tomorrow morning's final qualifying session to repair/replace the broken parts.