INDIANAPOLIS – At the end of the first full day of qualifying at the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals Robert Hight and the Auto Club Chevrolet Camaro SS were provisional No. 2 qualifiers and had a solid day heading into Sunday and the 4th annual Traxxas Nitro Shootout. Hight set the pace for JFR with a 3.971 second run at 322.96 mph and picked up two qualifying bonus points for his effort. The 2014 Traxxas Shootout runner-up was looking at tomorrow as an opportunity get his first win in the $100,000 to win specialty race and continue to get ready for race day on Monday.

“I am just happy that going up there we did exactly what we wanted to do. (Crew chief Mike) Neff said we are going to try and run 3.97 or 3.98. We are not going to swing for the fences and try and run .92 or .93. It shows that my crew chief has a handle on this Auto Club Chevy. Tomorrow is going to be tough,” said Hight, a three-time U.S. Nationals winner. “You can’t say that you would want to race any one person in the Traxxas Shootout over any other driver. We didn’t win last year but we got to the final. I am hoping this year we seal the deal and we have a good run going into tomorrow.”

Four-time U.S. Nationals winner John Force came out strong today making the second quickest run of the first session and under the lights on Saturday night his Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car was on an impressive run when his Goodyear tires lost traction just past half-track. The winningest driver in NHRA history and defending Traxxas Shootout champion was focused on the big picture going into the final day of qualifying.

“What we focus on is building better race cars. We aren’t where we want to be but we are improving. Robert qualifying second was a great run. My car ran 4.09 in the first session but we were aggressive in that night session so we are No. 9 right now. Tomorrow we will be in the heat and we have the Traxxas Shootout. Indy is going to be tough to win but no one likes a fight better than us,” said Force, who is trying to win a record tying fifth U.S. Nationals.

The motivator for Force is not the $100,000 payday tomorrow but rather the competitive energy and opportunity to make improvements for his whole racing operation.

“I don’t see the money. The money goes into the pot to pay the teams. I do it because I want to win. I want to build strong race teams and I have four teams that are getting better. My dragster ran great,” added Force.

Courtney Force continued to battle a tricky track and race car today in the opening qualifying sessions of the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals. On both passes, the Traxxas Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car smoked the tires, which left the team outside the top 12 entering day two of qualifying tomorrow. The 27-year-old driver will start over with a clean slate and have to race her way into the starting field for Sunday.

“We pushed our Traxxas Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car hard today trying to make a good pass and go for points. We weren’t able to get a full pass down the race track, but tomorrow we’re going to go after it again. We’re not giving up,” said Force.

The Traxxas-sponsored driver will simultaneously try to qualify and take a run at the Traxxas Nitro Shootout title worth $100,000. Force earned the eighth and final spot in the Shootout when she was voted in by her fans and won the lottery style drawing in downtown Indianapolis on Wednesday before the racing began at Lucas Oil Raceway Park.

“We have the Traxxas Shootout tomorrow as well so we’re staying positive that we can do well in the Shootout for my sponsor, but also get a couple good runs in and get qualified for the big race on Monday.

“We’re staying focused and we’re going to take it back to how we ran in the heat during testing. We’re just going to have to hope the car cooperates so we can get a good position for race day. We have two, possibly three, qualifying runs tomorrow so we’ll see what we can do,” Force said.

In the first qualifying session on Saturday the three John Force Racing Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Cars stepped up with each passing pair. First out was Courtney Force who posted a 4.848 second run then Robert Hight in the Auto Club Chevrolet Camaro improved with a 4.751 second pass. Both teams passed their information onto Jon Schaffer John Force’s crew chief and the four-time Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals winner made the second quickest run of the session tripping the finish line timing system at 4.090 seconds. Unfortunately Force’s Funny car pushed a rod out and dropped some oil on the race track. Force was docked 20 points but held onto the provisional No. 2 spot after the first session.

Under the lights and much more favorable conditions Brittany Force and the Monster Energy Top Fuel dragster finished the day as the provisional No. 7 qualifier. As Force’s dragster crossed the finish line with an elapsed time of 3.798 seconds it was the second quickest dragster of the day but by the end of the session Force had been shuffled back five spots. The third year driver was looking forward to two more runs on Sunday before moving into eliminations on Monday.

“I feel good that we got a good solid pass today. Conditions tomorrow will be hot and it will be tough getting the race cars down the track. We got a good safe run with a 3.79 and we are in the top half going into tomorrow. We’ll get two more runs tomorrow in conditions that will be close to race day,” said Force, a two-time finalist in 2015.