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Brittany Force leads qualifying in NHRA playoff opener

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MOHNTON, Pa. (AP) — Brittany Force broke the Maple Grove Raceway speed record Friday to lead Top Fuel qualifying in the Mopar Express Lane NHRA Nationals, the first event of the NHRA Countdown to the Championship playoffs.

Seeking her seventh straight No. 1 and ninth of the season, Force had a 3.666-second pass at 335.57 mph.

“That run felt fast. That finish line came up quick,” Force said. “So, it’s get the chutes out, turn the fuel off, but it feels good to be able to run like that for our first qualifying pass of the night. To grab that No. 1 currently, it gives confidence to the entire team. It helps us feel strong going into tomorrow. Right now, this Countdown has begun right here in Reading, Pennsylvania. Everything is on the line right now. We have to repeat that the rest of the weekend.”

Robert Hight led in the Funny Car, Kyle Koretsky in Pro Stock and Angelle Sampey in the first of seven playoff events.

Hight, Force’s teammate, had a 3.883 at 330.39 in a Chevrolet Camaro. If the pass holds up Saturday, it will be Hight’s second No. 1 of the season and 70th overall.

Pennsylvania native Korestsky ran a 6.547 at 209.98 in a Camaro. Sampey had a 6.761 at 198.85 on a Suzuki.

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