Kalitta Tops The Charts In Norwalk
NORWALK, Ohio – NHRA Top Fuel driver Doug Kalitta earned his fifth No. 1 qualifier of the season and 36th of his career on Saturday, and will try for his first victory of the season on Sunday at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals at Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park.
John Force (Funny Car), Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) and Michael Ray (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also will lead their categories as the No. 1 qualifiers at the 13th of 24 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series events in 2013. Sunday’s eliminations start at 11 a.m.
No driver improved on Kalitta’s pass of 3.767 seconds at 327.74 mph that came on Friday in his 8,000-horsepower Mac Tools dragster and broke the track record in both categories.
The 36th No. 1 qualifier of Kalitta’s career also moved him to fifth overall in Top Fuel history. The Ann Arbor, Mich. resident, who is seeking his first win since 2010, is the only driver in the top five in points in Top Fuel, Funny Car or Pro Stock without a victory in 2013, a tag he hopes to remove on Sunday at his home NHRA track. Kalitta meets Troy Buff in the first round of eliminations.
“We’re real happy to be that No. 1 qualifier and be in this position,” Kalitta said. “Hopefully we can turn it into a win. We just have to take it round-by-round and see if we can keep it going.”
Points leader and Chicago winner Tony Schumacher kept his U.S. Army dragster in second with a strong 3.778 at 320.74. Clay Millican had Saturday’s most impressive showing in the class, powering his Parts Plus dragster to a 3.789 at 327.27. It kept him in the third position, but Millican, who was the runner-up to Schumacher last week in Chicago, was the only driver in the 3.70s on Saturday.
Defending event winner Spencer Massey will face off with David Grubnic in the opening round.
“I’ve got a ton of confidence in my guys,” said Kalitta, who is also seeking his first career victory in Ohio. “They’ll know what to do to get it down the track. It’s going to be an interesting day, but we loving running here in Norwalk. The Bader family always does a great job at the facility.”
Force’s track-record time of 4.021 at 317.72 from Friday wasn’t matched during Saturday’s two qualifying sessions, giving the 15-time world champion his third No. 1 of the season, second in the last three weeks and 143rd of his career. Force has also advanced to the finals of the last three events in his 8,000-horsepower Castrol GTX Ford Mustang. He will race Blake Alexander in the first round of eliminations.
“We proved we could run well, but (Sunday) is going to be anybody’s race,” Force said. “The track was good, but we fought the elements of the heat. We wanted to see how far we could push it (Saturday), but we’ve got a race here to win and that’s what it’s all about.”