Force, recovering from crash, watches daughter compete

The biggest cheer during the first round of Funny Car qualifying Friday afternoon wasn’t for a racer wearing a firesuit and helmet.

John Force was wearing shorts and a T-shirt when he stood with the help of a walker and watched daughter Ashley make her first qualifying pass in the ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Force drew an ovation as if he’d just won a championship, and for him to be at a track four weeks after nearly being killed in a racing crash, surely ranks as a victory.

He is recovering from a fractured left ankle and various hand injuries incurred in a crash at an NHRA event near Dallas. It wasn’t decided until Friday morning whether Force Racing driver Robert Hight would have any teammates competing with him.

Force was convinced changes to his race cars over the past couple weeks would prevent a chassis from coming apart like his did in that near-fatal wreck Sept. 23.

Not only did Hight capture the provisional Funny Car pole with a run of 4.763 seconds at 322.58 mph, his teammates also hold provisional positions heading to today’s last two sessions.

Also in Funny Car: Las Vegas resident Jon Capps is 20th and must improve to make Sunday’s 16-car eliminations.

• PRO STOCK — Rookie Jason Humphreys holds the provisional pole for the first time. His run of 6.750 seconds (204.05 mph) in a Pontiac GTO is fourth-thousandths of a second ahead of points leader Dave Connolly.

• TECHNICOAT SHOOTOUT — The eight-best Top Fuel qualifiers over the past 12 months will compete for $100,000 today in the Technicoat Shootout.

The event includes Tony Schumacher, Rod Fuller, Larry Dixon, Melanie Troxel, Brandon Bernstein, J.R. Todd, Dave Grubnic and Cory McClenathan. The first two rounds of Shootout eliminations run concurrently with the qualifying sessions.

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