Phoenix: Saturday qualifying summary

Kalitta, Pedregon, Allen claim No. 1 qualifying positions at Checker Schuck's Kragen NHRA Nationals. CHANDLER, Ariz. -- Doug Kalitta claimed his second consecutive No. 1 qualifying position of the season and led a parade of track ...

Kalitta, Pedregon, Allen claim No. 1 qualifying positions at Checker Schuck's Kragen NHRA Nationals.

CHANDLER, Ariz. -- Doug Kalitta claimed his second consecutive No. 1 qualifying position of the season and led a parade of track record performances Saturday at the Checker Schuck's Kragen NHRA Nationals at Firebird International Raceway.

Tony Pedregon and Bruce Allen also were No. 1 qualifiers in their respective categories at the $1.9 million race, the second of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.

Kalitta drove his Mac Tools dragster to a track record time of 4.512 seconds at 328.62 mph to top the 16-car Top Fuel lineup for the second time in as many races, and the ninth time in his career.

"We thought we would need to run a little quicker in that final session to hang on to the top spot and as it turned out that's exactly what we needed," Kalitta said. "We're all real happy to get our Mac Tools dragster in the top spot again and now we want to be consistent tomorrow and get in the winner's circle."

He just edged rookie Brandon Bernstein, who posted a career-best time of 4.517 seconds at 321.27 mph in his Budweiser/Lucas Oil dragster to claim the second position.

Defending series champion Larry Dixon rebounded from a non-qualifying performance Friday to move to fifth overall with a run of 4.572 at 323.04 in the Miller Lite dragster.

Pedregon claimed both ends of the track record in Funny Car and scored his first No. 1 qualifying position of the season and 18th of his career, running 4.789 at 322.11 in his Castrol Syntec Ford Mustang. Force Racing claimed the top three positions in the 16-car lineup for the first time ever, as Gary Densham was second at 4.807 and John Force third at 4.823, also in Mustangs.

"That's the first time we've ever been one, two, three, and I'm really proud of that effort for the team," Pedregon said. "The run felt really good and we'll enjoy it tonight, but the real work happens tomorrow. The key for us is to be there late in the day on Sunday. Our attitude is performance and consistency and our approach is humble, but we're going to be aggressive. This is a real important time for us to take advantage of our opportunities. Anything we fail to do now, we're going to feel at the end of the season and we just need to keep that in mind."

Pedregon, who posted a 4.797 on Friday, said the improved time in the final session may have been the result of taking a trip down to the end of the quarter-mile on a machine that runs quite a bit slower than his Mustang.

"I think that's the first time I actually drove the car to the finish line under power, and I think we got every bit out of it on that run," confessed Pedregon. "I took a trip down to the top end on my scooter before that round just to make sure I knew exactly where the finish line was, because I think I may have been shutting the car off just a tick too early on the runs before. Sometimes as drivers we take it for granted that we know the tracks, but I felt like I needed to go take a better look at the finish line. It's kind of hard to get a good look when you're going by there at 320 miles per hour. I think that really helped."

Defending event winner Allen earned his first No. 1 position at this track and 15th overall, leading the Pro Stock order. He posted a leading track record time of 6.831 at 201.31 in his Reher-Morrison Pontiac Grand Am.

"For some unknown reason this place really suits us," Allen said. "Our tune-up, our chassis, the way we set up everything seems to fit real well with what this track offers. I sure can't explain why, but we'll take it. We're surprised we're running this well. I was pretty confident we could step up today. The conditions were basically the same and we were running in the same lane that we ran well in yesterday and we had a real soft set-up. So I knew we could tune the car to be a little more aggressive and get away with it."

Warren Johnson was second with his time of 6.835 at 201.67, in his GM Performance Parts Grand Am, while Greg Anderson was third with a 6.837 at 202.15 in his Vegas General Construction Chevy Cavalier.

Sunday's eliminations begin at 11 a.m.

-nhra-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Larry Dixon , Warren Johnson , Tony Pedregon , John Force , Doug Kalitta , Greg Anderson , Gary Densham , Bruce Allen , Brandon Bernstein