June 21, 2015

BRISTOL, Tenn. (AP) John Force earned the No. 1 spot in Funny Car eliminations following a rain-delayed day of racing Saturday at the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway.

Force ran a track record 3.978-second pass at 323.43 mph in his Chevy Camaro SS to claim the top spot. Force, the 16-time Funny Car world champ, earned his first No. 1 starting spot of the season and 153rd of his career.

It was Force's first career top qualifying effort at Bristol.

''What's really good to see is the team grow,'' said Force, who'll line up opposite Terry Haddock in the first round. ''Jon Schaffer was groomed as crew chief under Mike Neff for the last four or five years. He didn't have a clue, but earned this shot. We rallied a bunch of kids. This is what I dreamed of doing.''

Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel) and Erica Enders (Pro Stock) also earned top qualifying positions for Sunday's eliminations at the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event.

Schumacher had a track-record 3.745-second pass at 326.08 mph in his dragster to claim the top seed and will open eliminations against Troy Buff. It was Schumacher's third No. 1 qualifier of the season, fourth at Bristol and 79th of his career.

In Pro Stock, defending world champ Enders ran a 6.632 at 207.59 in her Chevy Camaro to earn the No. 1 position, her fourth of the season and 16th of her career. She'll face John Gaydosh in the first round.

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