Brown, Pedregon, Skillman, Ellis top Friday fields

Cruz Pedregon raced to the qualifying lead in Funny Car Friday at the Lucas Oil Route 66 NHRA Nationals presented by General Tire at Route 66 Raceway.

Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Drew Skillman (Pro Stock), and Chip Ellis (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also led their respective categories in Friday qualifying at the 13th of 24 events in the 2015 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season.

Pedregon powered his Snap-on Tools Toyota Camry to a track record 3.966-second pass at 315.64 mph during the second session. Pedregon, a two-time world champion, has 60 career No. 1 qualifiers and three so far this season. He is pursuing his first victory of the season and first at Route 66 Raceway.

Cruz Pedregon

Antron Brown

Drew Skillman

Chip Ellis

"These cars are so touchy, and we're still fighting a little bit of a fuel curve issue, and it's not perfect yet, but it was good enough to run," said Pedregon, who is looking for his third No. 1 qualifier in Chicago. "We were nervous but we obviously wanted to be No. 1. That's a great way to start, and we have another night session tomorrow."

Chad Head pushed his Head Racing Toyota Camry to the second spot with a 3.991 at 318.17. He was followed by Tommy Johnson Jr. with a 4.003 at 316.15 in his Make-A-Wish Foundation Dodge Charger R/T. Courtney Force, last weekend's runner-up in Norwalk, sits in the fourth spot, and Ron Capps is currently qualified fifth.

Brown, the 2012 Top Fuel world champ and current category points leader, took the provisional lead with a track record 3.729 at 323.58 in his Matco Tools dragster. Brown is looking for his fourth No. 1 qualifier of the season and third in Chicago.

"We've been pressing hard, and it was good to see that lap," said Brown, the defending winner of this event. "We're pushing hard here. We always love coming to Chicago. This is the boss, big [Don Schumacher's] hometown race, and we just want to come out here and perform like we know we can each and every weekend, but this one here is always a little extra special."

Brittany Force powered her Monster Energy dragster to the provisional No. 2 spot with a 3.745 at 327.43. Dave Connolly raced his C&J Energy Services dragster to the third spot in his first Top Fuel appearance in Chicago with a 3.750 at 328.78, a track record in speed. Steve Torrence is fourth, and eight-time and defending Top Fuel world champ Tony Schumacher is fifth.

Skillman drove to the qualifying lead in Pro Stock with a track record 6.528 at 201.97 in his Ray Skillman Chevy Camaro. Skillman, a contender for the Auto Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award, is two sessions away from claiming his first career No. 1 qualifier.

"I'm going to be really excited if we can hold on, but we run a night session tomorrow, so I'm not taking anything for granted right now," said Skillman, who is also looking for his first career win after reaching two final rounds earlier this season. "I could get knocked back to eighth or ninth. That's the nature of Pro Stock. This has been a dream season so far. I just want it to keep going."

Chris McGaha is currently second following a 6.533 at 211.59 in his Harlow Sammons of Odessa Chevrolet Camaro. Current points leader Greg Anderson raced his Summit Racing Equipment Chevy Camaro to the provisional third spot with a 6.533 at 211.30. Defending world champ Erica Enders is currently fourth, and two-time world champ Jason Line rounds out Friday's top five.

In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Ellis grabbed the provisional top spot with a 6.856 at 195.68 on his Junior Pippin Trucking Co. Buell. Ellis is looking for his third top qualifying effort of his career and second of the season.

"We just need to take the success we've had in qualifying and transfer that over to race day," Ellis said. "I knew from the very moment I first rode that bike that it was fast."

[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]Four-time and defending world champion Andrew Hines sits second with a 6.882 at 193.99 on his Screamin' Eagle Vance and Hines Harley-Davidson. Louisiana alligator farmer and Englishtown winner Jerry Savoie raced his Savoie's Alligator Farm Suzuki to third with a 6.883 at 195.11. Eddie Krawiec and Matt Smith sit fourth and fifth, respectively.

Qualifying resumes Saturday at 4:15 p.m. with the final two sessions that will set the fields for Sunday's 11 a.m. eliminations.

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