Del Worsham was the top Funny Car qualifier in Friday's rain-shortened day in the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals in Bristol, Tenn. (Photo courtesy NHRA)

Del Worsham (FC), Brittany Force (TF), Shane Gray (PS) top NHRA qualifiers at Bristol on Friday

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Rain shortened Friday’s first two rounds of qualifying for the Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol (Tenn.) Dragway.

Del Worsham was able to earn the top spot in Funny Car before NHRA officials cancelled the remainder of the day’s second session midway through Funny Car’s second qualifying round.

Brittany Force was the top qualifier in Top Fuel, while Shane Gray earned top qualifying honors in Pro Stock.

The third and fourth qualifying rounds will be held Saturday, weather permitting. Final eliminations are scheduled for Sunday.

Worsham, the 2011 Top Fuel world champion, set both ends of the track record in his DHL Toyota Camry with a performance of 3.992 seconds at 319.45 mph. Worsham, who was the No. 1 qualifier at Bristol last season, seeks a third career win at Bristol.

“To come back here at Bristol and do it again is pretty exciting,” Worsham said in a NHRA media release. “The run was smooth and clean. Everybody on the team went after it. This is definitely a great track at Bristol with great fans.”

Worsham has shown championship form this season with two semifinal finishes and one runner-up finish. The veteran California driver, who currently sits in fourth in the points standings, is in position to repeat his winnings ways at Bristol.

“We’ve been making some great runs this season,” Worsham said. “It’s bittersweet that a few guys did not get a run because of the rain, but we hope we can continues where we left off tomorrow.”

Tim Wilkerson’s Levi Ray & Shoup Ford Mustang holds the second position with a 4.013 at 317.72. Three-time Bristol winner Ron Capps sits in third with a performance of 4.024 at 316.38 in his NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger.

Force, the 2013 Auto Club Road to the Future Award winner, set the pace in Top Fuel in her Castrol Edge dragster with a performance of 3.828 at 317.94.

“When they told me I was No. 1, I was shocked,” Force said. “It’s unfortunate with the rain, but I’m excited to be on the top of the field.”

The sophomore driver is seeking her second No. 1 qualifying position of the season.

J.R. Todd is second with a performance of 3.835 at 315.12 in his Optima Batteries/Bounty Hunter dragster followed by 2012 world champion Antron Brown with a 3.873 at 313.07.

Gray topped the Pro Stock field with a performance of 6.644 seconds at 207.88 mph at the controls of his Gray Manufacturing Chevy Camaro. Gray is seeking his first career No. 1 qualifying position.

“I’m thrilled for the program put together by my dad,” Gray said. “It’s a good team bringing the scheme we had last year. If it holds tomorrow, it’s hard to say because you have a tough field out there. It’s a work in progress and anybody’s race.”

Allen Johnson was second with a run of 6.657 seconds at 206.73 mph in his Mopar/Magnetti Marelli Dodge Dart, while his teammate, reigning world champion Jeg Coughlin, was third in his Dodge Dart with a pass of 6.657 at 206.64.

Pro Stock series leader Erica Enders-Stevens, who reset both ends of the Pro Stock national record (6.464 seconds, 215.55 mph) in Englishtown, is sixth overall after two rounds of qualifying.


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Here’s Friday’s qualifying results for the 14th annual Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway:

Top Fuel — 1. Brittany Force, 3.828 seconds, 317.94 mph; 2. J.R. Todd, 3.835, 315.12; 3. Antron Brown, 3.873, 313.07; 4. Spencer Massey, 3.876, 312.93; 5. Shawn Langdon, 3.893, 316.75; 6. Leah Pritchett, 3.898, 309.13; 7. Khalid alBalooshi, 3.900, 315.42; 8. Clay Millican, 3.909, 261.42; 9. Bob Vandergriff, 3.913, 321.12; 10. Richie Crampton, 3.939, 250.97; 11. Doug Kalitta, 3.969, 292.84; 12. Chris Karamesines, 4.485, 190.08.  Not Qualified: 13. Pat Dakin, 4.644, 163.89; 14. Billy Torrence, 4.771, 162.63; 15. Terry McMillen, 5.150, 137.39; 16. Tony Schumacher, 28.000, no speed.

Funny Car — 1. Del Worsham, Toyota Camry, 3.992, 319.45; 2. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 4.013, 317.72; 3. Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 4.024, 316.38; 4. Robert Hight, Mustang, 4.074, 315.27; 5. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.074, 306.60; 6. Courtney Force, Mustang, 4.077, 313.07; 7. John Force, Mustang, 4.099, 306.81; 8. Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.111, 308.99; 9. Chad Head, Camry, 4.118, 313.22; 10. Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 4.121, 305.29; 11. Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.123, 308.99; 12. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 4.127, 299.86.  Not Qualified: 13. Bob Tasca III, 4.143, 306.81; 14. Tony Pedregon, 9.230, 72.90; 15. Justin Schriefer, 9.475, 73.52; 16. Jeff Arend, 11.442, 64.41.

Pro Stock — 1. Shane Gray, Chevy Camaro, 6.644, 207.88; 2. Allen Johnson, Dodge Dart, 6.657, 207.37; 3. Jeg Coughlin, Dart, 6.657, 206.64; 4. Jonathan Gray, Camaro, 6.668, 206.89; 5. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.673, 207.02; 6. Erica Enders-Stevens, Camaro, 6.673, 206.86; 7. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.677, 207.21; 8. Rodger Brogdon, Camaro, 6.680, 206.51; 9. Dave Connolly, Camaro, 6.681, 206.07; 10. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.689, 206.92; 11. V. Gaines, Dart, 6.691, 206.54; 12. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.693, 207.18.  Not Qualified: 13. Shane Tucker, 6.723, 206.04; 14. Larry Morgan, 6.736, 203.98; 15. John Gaydosh Jr, 6.951, 198.93; 16. Kenny Delco, 7.076, 197.68; 17. Curt Steinbach, 7.562, 158.46.

Lotus prepared for close fight with Force India for P5

SUZUKA, JAPAN - SEPTEMBER 26:  Romain Grosjean of France and Lotus drives during qualifying for the Formula One Grand Prix of Japan at Suzuka Circuit on September 26, 2015 in Suzuka.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
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Lotus technical director Nick Chester believes that the team faces a close fight with Force India for fifth place in the constructors’ championship that will rage on until the end of the 2015 Formula 1 season.

Lotus currently ranks sixth in the teams’ standings, 17 points behind Force India in fifth with five races remaining this year.

Finishing fifth in the constructors’ championship would not only secure some much-needed additional prize money for Lotus, but it would also secure it a place on the F1 Strategy Group for 2016 when it is poised to become Renault F1 Team.

Reflecting on last weekend’s race in Japan, Chester said he was pleased with the double-points finished achieved by Lotus drivers Pastor Maldonado and Romain Grosjean, and believes that the team can catch up in the coming weeks if Force India hits trouble.

“[Japan] was very rewarding and also very important for us in our fight for fifth place in the constructors’ championship,” Chester said. “We closed up a little bit more on Force India and of course there is a bit more to do.

“They had a good race in Monza when both our cars got knocked out but effectively we’re one good race away where they have a bad one and we can catch up. It will be tight all the way until the end of the season.

Looking ahead to the upcoming Russian Grand Prix in Sochi, Chester spoke of the challenge posed to both the teams and the drivers by the tight and twisting circuit around the site of the old winter Olympic park.

“We know that the surface is very smooth and last year we struggled generating temperature with the tires, partly through the smooth surface and partly through what was a conservative tire allocation,” Chester said.

“Pirelli’s softer allocation for this year along with the more weathered track surface and our better knowledge of the circuit should mean we fare far better in this regard. In terms of its needs, we know that it’s a track that is quite power and traction-sensitive.

“The layout presents a lot of slow speed corners and long straights. Braking down into turn 13 is very severe and you come out of the kink before you brake so it is a difficult corner to get right. Overall, the whole track is quite technical, so it certainly a challenging one for the drivers.”

Status targets 2016 GP2 title after GP3 exit

2015 GP2 Series Round 8.
Autodromo di Monza, Italy.
Sunday 6 September 2015.
Marlon Stockinger (PHL, Status Grand Prix) 
Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP2 Series Media Service.
ref: Digital Image _G7C2088
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Status Grand Prix has set its sights on winning the 2016 GP2 Series championship following its decision to close down its GP3 team at the end of the current season.

Earlier this week, GP3 issued a statement confirming its team roster for the next three seasons that featured new entries from DAMS and Virtuosi Racing.

However, both Carlin and Status did not appear on the list, signalling that both had opted to leave GP3 at the end of 2015.

Status first entered GP3 back in 2010, but only set up a GP2 team in 2015 after taking over the old Caterham Racing operation.

This will now become the main focus for the Irish outfit, though, as explained by team boss Teddy Yip Jr. earlier this week.

“Status Grand Prix has not renewed entry into the GP3 Series from 2016 onwards in order to maximize focus on our GP2 campaign,” Yip said.

“Having finished second in the team championship in the inaugural GP3 Series, we have enjoyed six successful years in the category collecting nine race wins, 26 podium finishes and vying for numerous team and driver titles.

“We are very proud to have given opportunities and achieved success with drivers such as Robert Wickens, Antonio Felix da Costa, Alexander Sims and our current GP2 race winner, Richie Stanaway.

“We now look forward to finishing the 2015 GP2 and GP3 seasons on a high before mounting a robust GP2 title campaign in 2016.”

Both GP2 and GP3 return from a one-month break next weekend in support of the Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix.