Kalitta, Force, Anderson and Ellis Take The Top Qualifying Spots For 50th Annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals Densham Bags $100,000 For Skoal Showdown Victory CLERMONT, Ind. - Greg Anderson earned the 13th No. 1 qualifying award of the season and...
Kalitta, Force, Anderson and Ellis Take The Top Qualifying Spots For 50th Annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals
Densham Bags $100,000 For Skoal Showdown Victory
CLERMONT, Ind. - Greg Anderson earned the 13th No. 1 qualifying award of the season and 30th of his career Sunday as racers finished qualifying for the 50th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis Raceway Park.
Doug Kalitta (Top Fuel), John Force (Funny Car) and Chip Ellis (Pro Stock Bike) also earned the top qualifying spots in their respective categories at the $2.6 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series event. Funny Car's Gary Densham earned a $100,000 bonus for winning the Skoal Showdown bonus event.
Anderson has two victories at Indianapolis, but this was the first time he earned the No. 1 qualifying award in Pro Stock here. Anderson drove his Pontiac Grand Am to a 6.794-second pass at 202.87 mph.
"We need that lucky 13th win to go with this lucky 13th low qualifier," Anderson said. "It'll be exciting. We didn't exactly show 'em up today and I can tell you we've got a lot of work to do tonight to get ready for tomorrow. There are a lot of great cars in the field and that's the way it should be because this is Indy."
Anderson could tie 12-time NHRA POWERade champion Force for the most wins in a season, 13, this weekend.
"My No. 1 priority right now is to get my 13th win of the season right here at Indy," Anderson said. "There's something about this race that makes it so special. It's exciting just to be here and look around at everyone else. There's so much history here and we need to make a little of it tomorrow."
Densham earned a briefcase full of cash by winning the Skoal Showdown, a bonus event for the top eight drivers in qualifying in a calendar year. Densham beat his teammate, Force, to earn the bonus check. Densham drove to a 4.893 run at 316.08 to earn the victory over Force's 5.083 at 270.05 in a battle between two Ford Mustangs.
"I never saw him," Densham said. "I don't have a rear-view mirror in my car. That was a great time. It was just a couple of old friends having a great drag race. Seriously, John's such a great guy to work for, even though he just fired me at the top end. Hey, we knew all the money was going to John Force Racing so we just lined 'em up and raced. John got the money but I got the trophy and that's okay with me.
"This Skoal Showdown win is big to me. This is the best eight cars from the last year and to end up as the winner is really something. I can't describe the feeling but it's very cool."
Densham could earn more cash if he can win the race Monday. NHRA will provide a $50,000 double-up bonus for winning the Skoal Showdown and the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals.
"Anything to do with Indy is special," Densham said. "Just like today, if you give [crew chief] Jimmy Prock enough chances he'll figure things out. Hopefully we can carry this over to tomorrow and really have a big weekend."
Kalitta kept his top qualifying spot with a 4.544-second run at 320.51 mph in the Mac Tools dragster. It's his fourth top qualifier this season and 20th of his career.
"They're running strong over there [in Tony Schumacher's camp] and they had another nice one this evening," Kalitta said. "The thing is there are a lot of good cars here. We had a good run Friday when it was cooler but we've just been mid-pack since then. I'd rather have run a few more big numbers but we didn't so we'll just press on and try to win this thing. It would be a great win for us since all the people from Mac are here."
Force earned the 121st qualifying award of his career and eighth at this track with a pass of 4.749 at 323.12 in his Castrol GTX Start Up Ford Mustang. He was the top qualifier for Monday's 16-car elimination round, but he was the runner-up in the bonus race.
"I want a recount," Force said. "Densham beat me in the Showdown. He must be cheating. We were good in the heat but the weather came in and it cooled a little and [Densham's crew chief Jimmy] Prock was loving it. We just overcooked it and he beat us. How can I be upset? Has anyone ever deserved a win more than Gary? I love the guy, even though I had to fire him just now.
"We're happy to get low E.T. of the race. That's important because it means we got more points than anyone else. To me, every single point is critical. They all add up to championships if you do it right."
Ellis rode his S&S/Star Buell to the front of the two-wheel category with a 7.137 at 185.69 in his first NHRA national event appearance.
"I'm not getting too excited about this," Ellis said. "Everyone else has been racing all year and most are involved in some pretty heavy points battles. Not me. I'm just having fun. Like I said yesterday, we're just testing. I mean, this is fun for me. It's what I've always wanted to do. There's just a lot more people watching me than what I'm used to."
Final eliminations kick off at 11 a.m. on Monday.