Baytown: Sunday final summary

Kalitta, Pedregon, Johnson and Savoie race to victories at Houston Raceway Park. BAYTOWN, Texas - Doug Kalitta capped off a dominant weekend by capturing his 12th career NHRA victory Sunday at the O'Reilly Spring Nationals at Houston Raceway ...

Kalitta, Pedregon, Johnson and Savoie race to victories at Houston Raceway Park.

BAYTOWN, Texas - Doug Kalitta capped off a dominant weekend by capturing his 12th career NHRA victory Sunday at the O'Reilly Spring Nationals at Houston Raceway Park.

Tony Pedregon, Kurt Johnson and Angelle Savoie also were winners of their respective categories at the $1.9 million race, the fifth of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.

Kalitta earned his first win of 2003 when he powered his Mac Tools dragster to a pass of 4.580 seconds at 323.43 mph to take the win over Cory McClenathan's NY Yankees/Berryman dragster, which lost traction and slowed to a pass of 6.832, 123.27.

"It was sure nice to get into the final," said Kalitta.  "The guys
have been working on that thing to get the Sunday setup.  To run a 4.58 in
the heat of the day was a good run for us.  It was a good day out here."

Kalitta, who clocked the fastest pass in NHRA history at 333.91 during qualifying, earned the drag racing grand slam this weekend by qualifying No. 1, recording low elapsed time, top speed of the event and winning the race.

Kalitta knocked off Scott Weis, Melanie Troxel and Brandon Bernstein, before besting McClenathan for the victory. With the win, Kalitta moved into third place in the POWERade point standings and trails points leader Larry Dixon by 69 points.

Pedregon raced to his third victory of the season by narrowly defeating Del Worsham in the Funny Car final. Pedregon clocked a run of 4.963, 313.07 in his Castrol Syntec Ford Mustang to hold off Worsham's 4.969, 302.96 in his Checker, Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird.

"I didn't know if I won, if I lost because I didn't see the winner's light at the top end," said Pedregon. "Normally when you get out of the car all the cameras are on you and if you know you won you can make a little noise and celebrate. I thought 'will somebody please tell me something?' It definitely was good news."

Pedregon, who won for the second consecutive week, defeated Tim Wilkerson, John Force and Whit Bazemore, before topping Worsham in the final.

Pedregon's 22nd career victory ties him with older brother Cruz for fourth on the all-time Funny Car win list. The victory increases his points lead to 63 over teammate Gary Densham.

Johnson, who set the NHRA national speed record at 205.57 mph in qualifying, drove to his second win of 2003 and 25th of his career when he edged Scott Geoffrion at the finish line. The drivers had nearly identical reaction times, but Johnson used the extra horsepower in his ACDelco Chevy Cavalier to clock a pass of 6.780, 204.79 to inch out the victory ahead of Geoffrion's Nitro Fish Ford Escort ZX2, which recorded a run of 6.795, 204.14. It marked the first time that a Ford had advanced to the Pro Stock final since May 1995.

"The way he's (Geoffrion) been running with the new body we knew he'd be a pain," said Johnson. "It was a tough race. We actually didn't look good in qualifying. We didn't get down the first run, then made a fabulous run on Friday night running the big speed. I do my best thinking in the morning and I came up with a combination that was flawless all day, just as smooth as could be."

Johnson, who advanced to his third straight final round, beat Terry Adams, Ron Krisher and Jim Yates, prior to his victory over Geoffrion.

With the victory, Johnson now leads the Pro Stock points standings for the first time since 2001. He leads Greg Anderson by 18 points.

Angelle Savoie remains undefeated in 2003. The three-time consecutive NHRA Pro Stock Bike champion rode to her 30th career victory and second of the season by knocking off rival Craig Treble in the final round. Savoie blasted her Team 23 Suzuki to a run of 7.138, 188.89 to hold off Treble's Matco Tools Suzuki and its pass of 7.146, 188.20.

"I feel so lucky and so blessed," said Savoie. "It doesn't look like it, but our team really is struggling through it. We do need a sponsor really bad and we need to finish our dyno room for this brand new engine program. Even though, the whole Team 23 program is looking very strong."

Savoie, who defeated Steve Johnson, No. 1 qualifier Geno Scali, Karen Stoffer and Treble, recorded low elapsed time of the event (7.132) in the semifinals.

The victory extends her points lead to 77 over Scali and 78 ahead of Treble.

The next NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series event is the third annual Mac Tools Thunder Valley Nationals, April 25-27 at Bristol Dragway in Bristol, Tenn.

-nhra-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Larry Dixon , Kurt Johnson , Scott Weis , Tony Pedregon , Del Worsham , Whit Bazemore , John Force , Doug Kalitta , Greg Anderson , Ron Krisher , Gary Densham , Craig Treble , Geno Scali , Scott Geoffrion , Melanie Troxel , Brandon Bernstein , Steve Johnson