NHRA resumes season in front of limited crowds

INDIANAPOLIS -- Tommy Johnson Jr. topped Funny Car qualifying Saturday at the NHRA Nationals in the the series' return from a more than four-month break because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Johnson, the winner in the last race before competition was suspended, had a 3.983-second run at 317.72 mph in a Dodge Charger in front of a limited number of fans at Lucas Oil Raceway.

"It's just a great start after such a long layoff and all the uncertainty,'' Johnson said. "It's great to be able to carry the momentum from Phoenix right into this race and not miss a beat. The guys worked hard those four months so to be able to give them a No.1 qualifier right out of the box and just carry that momentum is really good.''

Steve Torrence led in Top Fuel, Jason Line in Pro Stock and Eddie Krawiec in Pro Stock Motorcycle.

Torrence had a 3.779 at 321.19, Line ran a 6.626 at 206.10 in a Chevrolet Camaro, and Krawiec had a 6.897 at 196.24 on a Harley-Davidson.

Fans were not allowed at Friday's practice session but returned in a limited capacity for qualifying. NHRA president Glen Cromwell said ticket sales were capped at less than 15% of normal capacity.

Fans also are expected to attend Sunday's finals.

Most fans wore face coverings -- complying with county guidelines -- and observed social distancing in the stands, pits and at concession areas.

John Force Racing did not attend the first of two consecutive weeks of activity in Indianapolis.

The weekend ends a 138-day hiatus for America's top drag racing series.