Anderson, Kalitta, Densham and Brown win at Lucas Oil Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway BRAINERD, Minn. - Greg Anderson raced to his seventh victory of the season Sunday at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd...
Anderson, Kalitta, Densham and Brown win at Lucas Oil Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway
BRAINERD, Minn. - Greg Anderson raced to his seventh victory of the season Sunday at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway, earning his first career victory at the home track for the Duluth, Minn. native. Doug Kalitta, Gary Densham and Antron Brown also won their respective categories at the $1.9 million race, the 16th of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.
Anderson increased his lead in the Pro Stock points chase when he drove his Vegas General Construction Pontiac Grand Am to the victory over second place competitor Kurt Johnson. Anderson clocked a run of 6.917 seconds at 200.05 mph to edge Johnson's ACDelco Chevy Cavalier, which recorded a run of 6.930 at 199.82. "I wanted this race so bad for so long," said Anderson. "I have lots of memories from this place, some are bittersweet and some are great. I think this win has more meaning to me than winning the U.S. Nationals at Indy. That race was so close. I think somebody from above put a hand down and pushed me by Kurt and I think it was my old buddy John Hagen. This victory is in his memory."
Anderson defeated Allen Johnson, Ron Krisher and Taylor Lastor before knocking off Kurt Johnson, the No. 1 qualifier, in the final round. With the victory, Anderson extended his lead in the POWERade Pro Stock standings to 158 points over Johnson. Kalitta blasted his Mac Tools dragster to his fourth victory of the season and 15th of his career to hold off Tony Schumacher's U.S. Army dragster in the final round of Top Fuel. Kalitta used a slight starting line advantage and a run of 4.698 at 311.20 to defeat Schumacher, who clocked an identical 4.698 elapsed time at 304.19. "I can't see the win light on the guardwall in my car," said Kalitta. "I just hope the people with the cameras come towards me. My guys really pulled one out today. The track was good, the lanes didn't matter. We're fortunate to get this win. Weekends like this one bring back hopes of winning the championship. We're not giving up." Kalitta, who won from the No. 2 qualifying position, beat Josh Starcher, Doug Herbert and Kenny Bernstein before knocking off Schumacher in the final round.
The victory moved Kalitta to within 271 points of category leader Larry Dixon. Dixon, who was attempting to become the third Top Fuel driver in NHRA history to win four consecutive races, was defeated in the semifinals by Schumacher. Densham used a consistent 5.0-second tune-up to win his second Funny Car race of the season and sixth of his career. He drove his Auto Club Ford Mustang to a run of 5.009 at 298.01 to beat Tim Wilkerson's 5.042 at 297.29 in his Levi, Ray & Shoup Pontiac Firebird.
"What a turnaround from Sonoma," said Densham. "We've struggled with the new car. It took some time for me and (crew chief) Jimmy (Prock) to get used to the new car. With all the talent we have, you knew it was only a matter of time. Jimmy made all the right calls today." Densham, who failed to qualify at the last event in Sonoma, Calif., defeated Tommy Johnson Jr., Bob Gilbertson and Frank Pedregon prior to edging Wilkerson for the victory. Densham's teammate and Funny Car points leader Tony Pedregon extended his lead over Whit Bazemore to 61 points in the POWERade standings.
Bazemore lost in the second round, while Pedregon went one round better, advancing to the semifinals where he was defeated by Wilkerson. Brown raced to his first victory since May 2002 and 11th of his career when he defeated John Smith in the final round. Brown rode his U.S. Army Suzuki to a pass of 7.336 at 179.47 to hold off Smith's 7.362 at 180.24 on his Lake Mortgage Kawasaki. "I thought John beat me off the line in the final," said Brown. "We lost traction on our 60 foot, but I ran a great back-half. We were about even at half-track. This is great with the Army and Don Schumacher Racing behind us."
Brown rode to victories over Fred Collis, Michael Phillips and Reggie Showers prior to getting the win over Smith. Pro Stock Bike points leader Geno Scali fell in the first round of eliminations for the first time this season. Scali leads Shawn Gann by 174 points. Brown's victory moved him to fourth in the POWERade standings. FFor the fourth straight event and sixth time this season, three-time consecutive Pro Stock Bike champion Angelle Savoie was defeated in the opening round of eliminations.
The next NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series event is the 49th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals, Aug. 27-Sept. 1, at Indianapolis Raceway Park in Clermont, Ind.