KALITTA, PEDREGON, CONNOLLY AND BROWN EARN VICTORIES AT SUMMIT RACING NHRA SOUTHERN NATIONALS COMMERCE, Ga. -- Doug Kalitta raced to his second straight Top Fuel victory Sunday by beating season-long series leader Melanie Troxel in the...
KALITTA, PEDREGON, CONNOLLY AND BROWN EARN VICTORIES AT SUMMIT RACING NHRA SOUTHERN NATIONALS
COMMERCE, Ga. -- Doug Kalitta raced to his second straight Top Fuel victory Sunday by beating season-long series leader Melanie Troxel in the final-round of the 26th annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals presented by Pontiac at Atlanta Dragway.
Former Funny Car champion Tony Pedregon, Pro Stock rising star Dave Connolly, and Pro Stock Motorcycle veteran Antron Brown also scored victories in their respective categories at the seventh of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.
Kalitta posted a 4.469-second pass at 327.57 mph in his Mac Tools dragster to defeat Troxel, whose Skull Shine/Torco Race Fuels dragster lost traction 100 feet into the race. It was Kalitta's 26th career victory and a carbon-copy of last year's sweep of races in Bristol, Tenn. and Atlanta.
"This is still hard to believe, but I'm pretty happy right now," said Kalitta, who defeated David Baca, Tony Schumacher and Larry Dixon in earlier rounds. "Two in a row is great and it gives us some good momentum. Melanie's got a strong team over there and we're all trying to catch up to her. They've had a really good start to the year and she's out there quite a bit on all of us."
Troxel's lead in the POWERade standings is now 132 points. She has raced to six of seven finals this year. With his win, Kalitta moved around his teammate Dave Grubnic and into second place in the standings.
A former series champion, Pedregon beat all three of his former teammates -- John Force, Eric Medlen, and final-round opponent Robert Hight -- to win his 30th career Funny Car title. After leaving the line first in the final, his 4.740 at 325.69 mph in his Q Racing Chevy Monte Carlo was good enough to hold off Hight's charging Auto Club Ford Mustang, which finished in 4.738 at 321.81 mph.
"If I had any friends left on that team they're probably gone now," said Pedregon, who has now won three times at Atlanta Dragway, including his first career victory in 1996. "I looked at the ladder this morning and I knew it wasn't going to be an easy day. We haven't performed up to our abilities this year and believe me I was thinking about the fact we weren't even in the top 10 at the start of the day. There is no better way to make up for a slow start than to win."
Ron Capps remained in the series lead despite a first-round loss. He now leads Force by 96.
Connolly became the seventh different Pro Stock winner of the season with his sixth career victory and first with new crew chief Tommy Utt. He raced to a final round performance of 6.695 at 205.69 mph in his Skull Gear Chevy Cobalt to defeat Greg Stanfield, whose PiranhaZ Pontiac GTO got out of shape early in the run.
"This is the best race car I've ever had," said Connolly, who outran Jason Line, Allen Johnson and Larry Morgan to advance to his second final round of the season. "I couldn't complain about this thing at all. Tommy saved my butt three out of four races today. It's been a smooth transition, for sure. He's worked with Cagnazzi Racing and we use their motors, so he knew how to put the power together with the chassis, obviously."
Greg Anderson was upset in the first round by Stanfield and exits the race with a 53 point lead over teammate Line. With the victory, Connolly moved to ninth and runner-up Stanfield moved to sixth.
In a classic Suzuki versus Harley final, Brown earned the Pro Stock Motorcycle win over Andrew Hines on a holeshot start. Brown left with a near-perfect reaction time and held on for the win with a 7.098 at 187.44 mph on his U.S. Army Suzuki to Hines' quicker, but losing, 7.089 at 187.94 mph on his Screamin' Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson.
"I needed that .005 light because Andrew was stepping it up every round," Brown said. "The bike bogged at the start but by the time I went into high gear I still didn't see him and I just tucked low and held on. When I saw the win light I was the happiest guy in the world because that's the team to beat. They work hard over there but so do we."
Brown, who defeated Ryan Schnitz, Craig Treble and Karen Stoffer to advance to the final, moved into the series points lead with the win. He holds a six-point lead over teammate Angelle Sampey, winner of the first two Pro Stock Motorcycle events.
The NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series continues with the Pontiac Performance NHRA Nationals presented by Summit Racing, May 18-21 at National Trail Raceway near Columbus, Ohio.