Brainerd: Friday qualifying report

Hometown Driver Leads The Way in Qualifying at Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals BRAINERD, Minn. - Duluth native Greg Anderson drove to the top of the Pro Stock order at his home track Friday during the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International...

Hometown Driver Leads The Way in Qualifying at Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals

BRAINERD, Minn. - Duluth native Greg Anderson drove to the top of the Pro Stock order at his home track Friday during the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway.

Doug Kalitta (Top Fuel), Tim Wilkerson (Funny Car) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Bike) also led qualifying in their respective categories the $1.6 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series event.

Anderson set both ends of the track record in his Summit Racing Equipment Pontiac Grand Am with a 6.759-second pass at 203.89 mph. Anderson is the defending champion at Brainerd.

"It's always great returning to Brainerd to race," Anderson said. "I have so many great memories at this track. I am happy that we are at the top of the qualifying order after one day, but to be honest, we made some mistakes. We have a lot of room for improvement for the next qualifying session and if we can correct those mistakes, it might be an even more special homecoming.

"After all of these years I think we have a home field advantage."

Anderson is the current Pro Stock points leader and is looking to clinch his second consecutive NHRA POWERade Pro Stock championship. After 15 of 23 races so far, Anderson holds a 568-point lead over the No. 2 driver in the category - his teammate and fellow Minnesota driver, Jason Line.

Line, a native of Wright, Minn., is qualified in the No. 2 spot in the order with a 6.766 at 203.46.

"It's been an amazing season so far," Anderson said. "We are hoping to set some records and win our second championship and Jason is working toward rookie of the year honors. It's been a great season for a couple of Minnesota guys."

Kalitta earned the provisional No. 1 qualifying award in Top Fuel with a 4.532 run at 324.51 in the Mac Tools dragster.

"I was hoping that we were going to run a .57 or something close to it," Kalitta said. "That was a big surprise. The track seems to be great, especially with these conditions.

"(Crew chief) Rahn Tobler is doing a great job figuring things out. One of his top missions was to improve the consistency of this team and that is something he has delivered to this program. I'm having a lot more fun staying closer to the top of the pack and having a shot at the championship."

Wilkerson went to the top of the Funny Car category with a pass of 4.812 at 319.67, setting both track records in his Levi, Ray & Shoup Chevy Monte Carlo.

"Fred [Mandoline, co-crew chief] got on the radio and said, 'Dude, you're No. 1 and Densham went 4.81 right next to you,' " Wilkerson said. "I thought, what did we run, and he was already telling me 4.812 at 319. That's big for us. We've been having trouble dropping cylinders but the 319 told me all eight stayed lit that time and that's why we had the number.

"I thought we'd be close to low E.T. but not a 4.81. Some times these things surprise you. Even ol' Fred told me I surprised him because he didn't like the clutch set-up I had in there."

Hines rode his Vance & Hines Screamin' Eagle Harley-Davidson to a 7.130 run at 187.16 to pace Pro Stock Bike.

"The track conditions were much better during the second session," Hines said. "We've overcome a couple of obstacles lately and found a little more horsepower. My dad has been working real hard and we have a couple of things going on that should get these V-Rods flying back on top. I think we are going to make improvements in the next couple of weeks but it's nice to have a couple of decent runs for both of the bikes here in Brainerd."

Qualifying continues at 2:30 and 5:30 p.m. Saturday. Final eliminations are set for 11 a.m. on Sunday.

-nhra-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Doug Kalitta , Greg Anderson , Tim Wilkerson , Jason Line , Andrew Hines