Brainerd: Saturday qualifying report

Kalitta, Wilkerson, Anderson and Brown Earn Top Qualifying Spots at Lucas Oil Nationals BRAINERD, Minn. - Greg Anderson put on a show for the hometown crowd Saturday, earning the 29th No. 1 qualifying position of his career during the 23rd...

Kalitta, Wilkerson, Anderson and Brown Earn Top Qualifying Spots at Lucas Oil Nationals

BRAINERD, Minn. - Greg Anderson put on a show for the hometown crowd Saturday, earning the 29th No. 1 qualifying position of his career during the 23rd annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway.

Doug Kalitta (Top Fuel), Tim Wilkerson (Funny Car) and Antron Brown (Pro Stock Bike) also earned the No. 1 qualifying position in their respective categories at the $1.6 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series event.

Anderson, a Duluth native, paced the Pro Stock field with a 6.742-second pass at 204.79 mph in his Summit Racing Equipment Pontiac Grand Am. The time was good enough for a track record - the 16th such record this season - but he wasn't satisfied with the performance on the track.

"We are struggling with the cars a little, to be honest," Anderson said. "We made some mistakes and we can't make those same mistakes again. These low qualifiers and race wins are not easy.

"I'm actually not proud with the runs we made today because it wasn't up to KB Racing standards. Hopefully we can get it figured out. I'm not doubting my guys and I would even bet that we'll be just fine tomorrow."

Anderson can tie 12-time NHRA champion John Force in the win column on Sunday. Anderson has 12 wins so far this season and the record for wins in a season for all pro categories is 13, set by Force in 1996.

"It's just an honor to even have a chance to have a record with Force," Anderson said. "It's like the Olympics. Even if you don't come away with a medal, just being in that elite group is amazing."

Kalitta drove his Mac Tools dragster to a 4.532 pass at 324.51 for his 19th career No. 1 position in Top Fuel.

"It warmed up a little from yesterday so we just tried to make sure we could get the car down the track," Kalitta said. "We wanted to get a feel for what we could expect to do tomorrow. We need to go rounds and keep pace or make up some ground on Tony (Schumacher). You never know what those guys will do and you can't anticipate anything one way or the other."

Kalitta said having a three-car team has been valuable on race day. The other two cars in the Kalitta Racing stable, Scott Kalitta and David Grubnic, are qualified second and fourth, respectively.

"The three-car thing is really starting to pay dividends," Doug Kalitta said. "You certainly get plenty of information with three cars running and the guys have all figured our how to work together. It's good to see."

Wilkerson took the top honors in Funny Car, driving his Levi, Ray & Shoup Chevy Monte Carlo to the No. 1 spot with a run of 4.812 at 319.67.

Wilkerson was the runner-up to Gary Densham in 2003. Densham qualified second on Saturday with a 4.813 run at 320.43.

"We just piddled around today because it got hotter," Wilkerson said. "I'm having fun running next to my buddy Gary Densham. We raced in the finals here last year and he got me by five thousandths of a second and he's been giving it to me pretty good ever since.

"I told him he could win all the rounds (during qualifying) but I was going to win them (in eliminations)."

Brown earned the eighth top qualifying position of his career when he rode his U.S. Army Suzuki to a 7.091 run at 187.52, setting the track elapsed time record. Brown has three wins at Brainerd (2000, '01, '03) and is aiming to defend his title.

"We usually shine here in Brainerd and I love it," Brown said. "The new track is so awesome now. I'd put it right up there with Englishtown as the best tracks for the bikes. It used to be really hard to drive down this track but now it's so nice and smooth, both lanes are great. It makes for great racing."

Final eliminations are set for 11 a.m. Sunday.

-nhra-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Antron Brown , John Force , Doug Kalitta , Greg Anderson , Gary Densham , Scott Kalitta , Tim Wilkerson