Sonoma: Friday qualifying report

Force, Kalitta, Anderson, Hines Qualifying Leaders at Fram Autolite Nationals SONOMA, Calif. -- John Force raced to the qualifying lead in Funny Car Friday at the FRAM Autolite Nationals at Infineon Raceway. Doug ...

Force, Kalitta, Anderson, Hines Qualifying Leaders at Fram Autolite Nationals

SONOMA, Calif. -- John Force raced to the qualifying lead in Funny Car Friday at the FRAM Autolite Nationals at Infineon Raceway.

Doug Kalitta, Greg Anderson and Andrew Hines also were leaders in their respective categories at the $1.5 million race, the 15th of 23 events in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.

Force powered his Castrol GTX Start Up Ford Mustang to a leading run of 4.823 seconds at 318.84 mph to top the 16-car field. If he holds on to the top position through Saturday's two qualifying sessions (11 a.m. and 3 p.m.) he will earn the 120th No. 1 qualifying position of his career.

"The brilliance is with my crew chief, Austin Coil," Force said. "He's the one with 15 championships. I only have 12. Then you add the input from Jimmy Prock and John Medlen and the other guys over there and you see what happens. We need to give a lot of credit to (track owner) Bruton Smith for giving us this awesome racetrack. It wasn't like that here just a few years back. Now we love coming here and racing because the track is perfect and the conditions are usually good."

Kalitta, a three-time winner at Infineon, clocked the quickest run of the evening in Top Fuel, speeding to a 4.574 at 323.66 in his Mac Tools dragster.

"The car left good and straight, hit hard, and was nearly flawless," Kalitta said. "There was one little shudder where I started to think, 'Oh no, it's gonna smoke the tires,' but it drove through it and stayed straight. All three of our cars ran well today so we're very happy with the early results. This place is just great to race at. It's such a nice track."

Anderson set both ends of the track record to lead Pro Stock, covering the distance in 6.723 at 205.69 in his Summit Racing Equipment Pontiac Grand Am.

"We're certainly happy with the consistency of the car, we just wanted to go faster than we did in round two," Anderson said. "The car got loose and I drove out of the groove for a little bit and that cost us. Still, we're pleased with how the day went. I'm really excited about tomorrow morning's 10 a.m. session. I think we'll see two or three cars in the 6.6s and the national record of 6.67 seconds is definitely within reach, unless something out of the ordinary happens. Pro Stock guys love conditions like this. It's what we dream about all year. We probably won't see it this good again for awhile so we'll definitely be going for it with our two cars. Why not? We've got nothing to lose."

Hines continued to set the pace in Pro Stock Bike, riding his Screamin' Eagle Harley-Davidson to a time of 7.113, with a track record speed of 196.13, the fastest in NHRA history for the category. Hines needs to clock a speed of 194.17 mph or faster during the remainder of the weekend to take the national speed mark away from older brother Matt, a three-time champion in the two-wheel category. Per NHRA rules, in order for Hines to certify the performance as a national record he must clock another speed within one percent of the previous run to make it a national record.

"I got back to the trailer and told Matt I was really liking the idea of taking his speed record away," Hines said of his brother, who now serves as his crew chief. "He still has it with a 194.10 (run in Englishtown, 2001) and I guess he wants to hold onto it for a little while longer because when I said that he gave me a look like he was going to de-tune my bike. It will probably be pretty tough to back it up and make it official, unless we get a tailwind. Although we did run pretty good here last year."

-nhra-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers John Force , Doug Kalitta , Greg Anderson , Andrew Hines , Austin Coil , John Medlen