Englishtown: Saturday qualifying summary

ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. - Kurt Johnson earned $50,000 by winning the King Demon Crown bonus event for Pro Stock Saturday at the K&N Filters SuperNationals presented by Pep Boys at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park. Doug Kalitta, Tony Pedregon, Greg ...

ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. - Kurt Johnson earned $50,000 by winning the King Demon Crown bonus event for Pro Stock Saturday at the K&N Filters SuperNationals presented by Pep Boys at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park.

Doug Kalitta, Tony Pedregon, Greg Anderson and Shawn Gann will lead their respective categories for Sunday's eliminations at the $2.1 million race, the eighth of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.

Johnson captured the King Demon Crown title for the third time in his career when he drove his ACDelco Chevy Cavalier to a run of 6.753 seconds at 205.60 mph to beat Anderson, who lost traction and slowed to a pass of 7.631 at 135.04. Johnson, who leads the POWERade points standings, defeated Jeg Coughlin and his father Warren Johnson before knocking off Anderson in the final.

"Greg certainly has a good combination for this track," Johnson said. "He's running 6.68 and 6.70 (seconds) out there and we had a 6.71, so I went into the final with some concern. I wasn't worried about it, but I was concerned.

"We weren't great in the finals. We had a 6.75, but Greg said one of his tires got out of the groove and it pushed him hard towards the wall. That was pretty much it for him and it allowed us to get the win."

Kalitta paced the Top Fuel field at Raceway Park when he blasted his Mac Tools dragster to a track-record run of 4.511 at 327.59. It marks the sixth time in eight events that Kalitta has earned the top qualifying spot in 2003.

"Doing so well in the first session gave us the opportunity to step it up in the second session and see what we could do," said Kalitta. "Every week we come to the track wanting to win. We have to stay focused because going out in the early rounds can be devastating to our championship chances."

Also in Top Fuel, 1999 series champion Tony Schumacher failed to qualify for Sunday's eliminations. Schumacher's U.S. Army dragster produced a weekend best run of 5.423-seconds, only good enough for the No. 19 position in the 16-car field. The last time Schumacher did not qualify for an event was Sept. 1999, a category-leading streak of 102 consecutive events.

Pedregon raced to his fourth No. 1 qualifying position of the season when he piloted his Castrol Syntec Ford Mustang to a track record run of 4.760 at 320.89. Teammate and 12-time POWERade Funny Car champion John Force qualified second with a 4.799-second effort. Pedregon qualified No. 1 at this event for the fourth time in five years.

"The No. 1 spot really doesn't guarantee you anything besides the bonus check and a few extra points," said Pedregon. "However, it's a good place for us to start from on Sunday."

Anderson dominated Pro Stock qualifying becoming the first driver to post a 6.6-second E.T. when he clocked a pass of 6.684 at 206.76 in the final qualifying session. Earlier in the day, Anderson recorded the fastest Pro Stock speed in NHRA history (207.08 mph) in his Vegas General Construction Pontiac Grand Am. If Anderson's 6.684-second E.T. holds as the quickest time through Sunday's eliminations, he will earn 20 bonus POWERade points for setting the national E.T. record. Anderson will face No. 16 qualifier Greg Stanfield, who anchored the quickest Pro Stock field in NHRA history.

"It was a heck of a run but it still wasn't perfect," said Anderson. "There's still a little left in this Grand Am. The car didn't move straight off the line, and I fought it a little in the first couple of gears, but once it calmed down in fourth gear it was hang on - the car had me pinned back in the seat. You could tell it was running an awesome speed."

Gann clocked the second-quickest Pro Stock Bike run in NHRA history when he rode his Gann Speed Suzuki to a pass of 7.051 at 189.28 to pace the quickest Pro Stock Bike field in NHRA history.

"The track here is awesome and I think the times will be even better on Sunday," said Gann. "I'm very anxious to get another win because it's been too long."

Defending series champion Angelle Savoie qualified in the No. 6 position and will face rival and No. 11 qualifier Craig Treble in the opening round of eliminations.

Final eliminations begin Sunday at 11 a.m.

-nhra-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Jeg Coughlin , Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson , Tony Pedregon , John Force , Tony Schumacher , Doug Kalitta , Greg Anderson , Shawn Gann , Craig Treble , Greg Stanfield