Kalitta, Scelzi and Connolly score Richmond victories

Doug Kalitta, Gary Scelzi and Dave Connolly earned victories at the Torco Racing Fuels Nationals held at the Virginia Motorsports Park in Dinwiddie, Virginia. Huge crowds and unseasonably warm weather greeted racers at the track located 45 miles...

Doug Kalitta, Gary Scelzi and Dave Connolly earned victories at the Torco Racing Fuels Nationals held at the Virginia Motorsports Park in Dinwiddie, Virginia. Huge crowds and unseasonably warm weather greeted racers at the track located 45 miles southwest of Richmond.

Kalitta (4.647 seconds) defeated Melanie Troxel (4.649) in the final round to score his first top fuel victory in over a year. Kalitta's first final round of the season produced his 30th career victory and maintained his record of scoring at least one victory in each of the 10 years that he has competed professionally.

Kalitta faced Doug Foley in the quarter-finals when his tires broke traction at the starting line. Foley pulled away before losing traction too. While Foley tried to settle his car Kalitta pedaled past with a 6.36 to Foley's 6.95. After the run Kalitta admitted to pedaling the throttle at least four times.

With two races remaining, the new scoring system will reset the points for the top four championship contenders in each professional category. Larry Dixon leads top fuel with 3,030 points, Rod Fuller is second with 3,020, Tony Schumacher has 3,010, and Brandon Bernstein will go into the final two races with 3,000 points.

Schumacher qualified first this weekend but was eliminated in the first round when his 4.622 lost to a faster and quicker Morgan Lucas (4.575/322.65 mph).

Fuller lost in the first round too, while Dixon and Bernstein made it no further than the second round.

In funny car, Gary Scelzi bumped his Don Schumacher Racing teammate Jack Beckman from the Countdown to the Championship when he defeated Tony Bartone in the quarter-finals. Scelzi then went on to defeat his other teammate Ron Capps as Capps struggled to find traction. Scelzi's 4.956-second pass at 306.60 mph bettered Capps' 5.935/207.11. With the victory, Scelzi slots into the second position in points for the final two races while Capps takes the final berth in the championship battle. Tony Pedregon leads the points with Robert Hight third.

Dave Connolly has been unstoppable in Pro Stock, winning his fifth consecutive race. "Things are just clicking for us right now," said Connollly. "It was nice to sweep the first leg of the Countdown but we have two races left (in Las Vegas and Pomona) so that's what we're concentrating on. This team will be ready. We tested for two days before this race and we have a long testing schedule to complete before we head to Vegas. The work is definitely not done."

Bob Glidden maintains the record for consecutive race wins with nine in a row in 1978-'79. With five straight, Connolly is now tied for second with Greg Anderson who won five in a row in 2004 and Ronnie Sox who recorded the feat of five straight in 1970-'71.

Greg Anderson will be seeded second behind Connolly with Jeg Coughlin third. Allen Johnson gets the fourth spot after his teammate Richie Stevens eliminated Kurt Johnson in the second round.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Jeg Coughlin , Larry Dixon , Kurt Johnson , Tony Pedregon , Tony Bartone , Ron Capps , Tony Schumacher , Gary Scelzi , Doug Kalitta , Greg Anderson , Bob Glidden , Jack Beckman , Melanie Troxel , Brandon Bernstein , Allen Johnson , Morgan Lucas , Doug Foley , Don Schumacher , Robert Hight , Rod Fuller , Dave Connolly