Brainerd: Saturday summary

Kalitta, Force, Krisher and Savoie earn top qualifying at Rugged Liner NHRA Nationals. BRAINERD, Minn. - Doug Kalitta is aiming for his first win at Brainerd International Raceway. John Force is looking to earn his 10th. Both took the top ...

Kalitta, Force, Krisher and Savoie earn top qualifying at Rugged Liner NHRA Nationals.

BRAINERD, Minn. - Doug Kalitta is aiming for his first win at Brainerd International Raceway. John Force is looking to earn his 10th. Both took the top qualifying spots in their respective categories Saturday at the 21st annual Rugged Liner NHRA Nationals.

Ron Krisher and Angelle Savoie also led their respective categories at the $1.9 million race, the 16th of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.

Kalitta powered his Mac Tools dragster down the quarter-mile track in 4.597 seconds at 322.19 mph to earn his third No. 1 qualifying position of the year, and seventh of his career.

"(Crew chief) Connie (Kalitta) had her gassed up pretty good," Kalitta said. "We knew it was going to get down the track real well, or not at all."

Kalitta has advanced past the second round only twice this season, but the team feels it has turned the corner. Kalitta and the Mac Tools team went to the finals in the last event, the Aug. 4 race in Sonoma, Calif., and finished in the runner-up position. Doug Herbert won the event, but Kalitta said it left the team with positive momentum.

"The mood is very positive because we went some rounds in the last race," Kalitta said. "We feel like we have done some good things with the car and we are ready to go after the win here in Brainerd."

The Top Fuel and Funny Car categories did not get four qualifying runs this weekend. Rain delayed much of Friday's racing action and the nitro teams were on the track once each before darkness halted racing. The weather on Saturday, however, was much more agreeable with the cars.

"I think the weather is going to be the biggest thing (Sunday)," Kalitta said. "We had cool conditions with a little cloud cover today. I am sure that we are going to have to back (the dragster) down if the weather is warmer."

Force drove his Castrol GTX Ford Mustang to a 4.859 run at 319.60 to pace the Funny Car class. Force has nine victories and six No. 1 qualifying spots in Minnesota. He has snagged the top qualifying position five times, winning four races this season.

Force is happy to be in the top spot for the 111th time in his career, but he is not thrilled with his first round opponent --- Scotty Cannon.

Force and Cannon have faced each other twice this season, including one final round. Force has come away with the win-light on both occasions.

"We're pretty excited," Force said. "I did try to move around (the ladder) because I didn't want to face Scotty Cannon. Well, I get to face him in the first round and you know that hot rod can run."

Krisher set both ends of the track record in Pro Stock with a 6.878 run at 200.32 in his Eagle One Chevy Cavalier. This is the 11th No. 1 qualifier of his career, sixth of the season.

"We moved from 16th to first in the four sessions," Krisher said. "It kept getting better. The first run today I knew was really good and we made a few changes on the setup of the car on the second one and it responded about like we thought it would. There may be a little more out there, but not much."

Savoie set the elapsed time track record with a 7.172 run at 186.38 on her Star Racing Suzuki, to lead the Pro Stock Bike category. Savoie has 30 career No. 1 qualifiers and is looking to earn her 26th career victory.

"The conditions were good, especially with the tailwind," Savoie said. "It took off and went straight. I short-shifted the bike and thought I messed up the run. I didn't think it would hold because I thought Matt (Hines, No. 2 qualifier) would run a 7.15. When he didn't, I started screaming like I won the race."

Final eliminations begin at 11 a.m. Sunday.

-NHRA-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Doug Herbert , John Force , Doug Kalitta , Ron Krisher , Scotty Cannon