- Associated Press - Friday, June 21, 2013

EPPING, N.H. (AP) - John Force raced to the qualifying lead in Funny Car Friday at the Auto-Plus NHRA New England Nationals at New England Dragway.

A week after winning his first event in 31 races, Force drove his Ford Mustang to a leading performance of 4.051 seconds at a top speed of 313.44 mph.

If Force’s performance holds through Saturday’s two qualifying sessions, it will be his second No. 1 of the season and 142nd of his career, the most in NHRA history.

Eliminations start Sunday.

Doug Kalitta (Top Fuel), Jeg Coughlin Jr. (Pro Stock) and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also were qualifying leaders in their categories at the 11th of 24 NHRA Drag Racing Series events in 2013.

Kalitta paced the Top Fuel category with a 3.795 at 323.97. Kalitta, who is seeking his first win of 2013, will claim his fourth No.1 qualifier this season and 35th of his career if the time holds.

In Pro Stock, Coughlin took command in the second qualifying session, running 6.533 at 212.43. If it holds, it will be the second No. 1 qualifier this season and 19th of his career.

Smith ran a 6.844 at 196.02 to take the initial top spot in Pro Stock Motorcycle. Should that run maintain the top spot, it would be the second No. 1 qualifier of 2013 for Smith and the 20th for his career.

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