Two days of qualifying left in final regular-season event

CLERMONT, Ind. -- Robert Hight powered his Auto Club Ford Mustang to the provisional No. 1 qualifying position in Funny Car on Friday at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals, finishing a 4.114-second pass at 297.48 mph at O'Reilly Raceway Park.

Cory McClenathan (Top Fuel), Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also held the top spots in their divisions on the first of three days of qualifying in the 18th and final regular-season event. The six-race Countdown to 1 playoff begins in two weeks with the Carolinas Nationals.

Hight's run put him in position to earn his fourth No. 1 qualifier this season and the 27th of his career.

"I don't think (the 4.114) will hold up (Saturday) night, we're running a little later so the track will be a little better so we'll have to run better than a 4.114 and I honestly think we can improve," said, Hight, whose John Force Racing teammates provisionally qualified 12th (Mike Neff (4.349), 13th (Ashley Force, 4.357), and 14th (John Force, 4.416).

Meanwhile, the DHL Funny Car made its first pass down the track since Scott Kalitta's fatal accident at Englishtown. Jeff Arend opened the Funny Car session, after an emotional acknowledgment, by powering the Toyota Solara to a 4.193 at 297.75.

"One of the coolest things at this U.S. Nationals was getting to see that Scott Kalitta car back on the track," Hight said.

McClenathan glided down the track in 3.85 seconds at 316.45 mph to earn the provisional top spot in Top Fuel.

Johnson's 6.713 at 201.85, and Krawiec's 7.106 at 184.02 were the pole-sitting passes on the first day of qualifying in the Stock classes.

Qualifying continues with two more rounds on both Saturday and Sunday before the 16-car fields are set for Monday's final