Phoenix: Friday qualifying report

Grubnic, Force and Anderson Earn The Top Spots in Qualifying at Checker Schuck'S Kragen NHRA Nationals CHANDLER, Ariz. - Australian David Grubnic paced the Top Fuel category Friday, running a career-best time to earn the provisional No. 1 ...

Grubnic, Force and Anderson Earn The Top Spots in Qualifying at Checker Schuck'S Kragen NHRA Nationals

CHANDLER, Ariz. - Australian David Grubnic paced the Top Fuel category Friday, running a career-best time to earn the provisional No. 1 qualifying spot at the 20th annual Checker Schuck's Kragen NHRA Nationals at Firebird International Raceway.

John Force and Greg Anderson also led their respective categories at the $1.8 million race, the second of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.

Grubnic used a track-record time of 4.486 seconds at 324.51 mph in his Kalitta Air dragster to lead the Top Fuel class. The last time Grubnic was the No. 1 qualifier was at Memphis in 1999.

"It's not over yet," Grubnic said. "We have to wait and see what happens tomorrow. This is a good place to be right now. All of the credit goes to (crew chief and team owner) Connie Kalitta and the whole team of guys who work on all three cars. It's an outstanding team."

Grubnic drives one of three cars in the Kalitta stable. Connie Kalitta owns and tunes all of the cars. Grubnic was added to the team in 2004 to drive the research and development car in hopes of creating a more consistent tuneup for the three-car program. Doug Kalitta and Scott Kalitta pilot the other Top Fuel dragsters.

"I have to protect my teammates," Grubnic said. "If we keep going like this, I'll have to hand over my car. But I wouldn't mind driving any of these cars. They are all fantastic."

Force ran a 4.808 at 319.82 in his Castrol GTX High-Mileage Ford Mustang to get to the top of the Funny Car class. Force said the run didn't feel like it was the best in the category.

"Tommy [Johnson] came around me at the top end and then banged it real good," Force said. "He had a little fire going down there and I walked over and said, 'What did you run?' He said, 'A 4.82.' So I figured that's about what I ran. I was really surprised when they came to get me for being No. 1. I already had all my excuses ready for [crew chief Austin] Coil and then I didn't need them."

Anderson drove his Vegas General Construction Pontiac Grand Am to the top in Pro Stock, setting both ends of the track record with a 6.746 pass at 204.23.

"This car is outstanding," Anderson said. "This car just (amazes) me every time I make a run down the track."

With warmer weather expected Saturday, Anderson said the real test has yet to come.

"We tested all offseason, but the weather was always cool, in the 50s and 60s," he said. "We haven't seen warm temperatures this season and that could take some getting used to. If I can manage to gain an edge in warm weather, then I will think we've really got something here."

Qualifying continues Saturday with sessions at 1 and 4 p.m. Final eliminations are set for 11 a.m. Sunday.

-nhra-

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Series NHRA
Drivers John Force , Doug Kalitta , Greg Anderson , David Grubnic , Scott Kalitta , Connie Kalitta