Dallas: Race summary

Kalitta, Worsham and Coughlin earn victories at O'Reilly Fall Nationals at Texas Motorplex. ENNIS, Texas - Doug Kalitta continued his hot streak Sunday by racing to the Top Fuel victory at the 17th annual O'Reilly Fall Nationals presented by ...

Kalitta, Worsham and Coughlin earn victories at O'Reilly Fall Nationals at Texas Motorplex.

ENNIS, Texas - Doug Kalitta continued his hot streak Sunday by racing to the Top Fuel victory at the 17th annual O'Reilly Fall Nationals presented by Castrol Syntec at the Texas Motorplex.

Del Worsham and Jeg Coughlin also won their respective categories at the $1.9 million race, the 21st of 23 events in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.

Kalitta drove his Mac Tools Dragster to a 4.582-second run at 322.58 seconds to beat Cory McClenathan's 6.565 at 130.62 in his B-12 Chemtooler Dragster. Kalitta said the run started off a little shaky.

"The car started to rattle and I thought we were going to smoke the tires," Kalitta said. "But the car collected itself and it ran strong. We really picked it up from qualifying and we're real happy to be able to carry this momentum forward and get another win."

Kalitta has won three of the last four national events and has moved up from sixth to third place in the standings during that span. Since the Kalitta team has won a few races, it has kept the beer cars of points leader Larry Dixon (Miller Lite Dragster) and second place Kenny Bernstein (Budweiser King Dragster) more quiet than usual. Kalitta said he doesn't mind playing the role of the spoiler.

"After we won the first race, I thought we had the car to win a few more," Kalitta said. "This team has worked very hard to make this all happen. If we can keep this going and win a few more and keep knocking off those two guys (Dixon and Bernstein), then I will be happy with that.

"Those are two very tough teams and they were beating up on us pretty good at the beginning of the season. It's nice to finally beat them when we get the opportunity."

Dixon and Bernstein faced off in the second round. Bernstein took the win light with a 4.601 run at 321.54 to beat Dixon's 4.662 at 321.08. That paired Kalitta against Bernstein in the semifinal. Both cars smoked the tires early in the run, but Kalitta pedaled the car to the win, and another appearance in the finals.

"We definitely had a little luck today," Kalitta said. "We smoked the tires against Kenny, but we had luck on our side and we have been able to carry some momentum and use it to our advantage.

"I don't know what the big difference has been between our team a few months ago and now. Our guys are gelling and we're making the right tuning calls. Other than that, I don't know what has changed. If I did know, I wouldn't tell a soul."

With a win over Dixon, Bernstein cut Dixon's lead in the standings to 108 points with two races remaining on the schedule.

The Funny Car points were jostled this weekend as well. John Force leads the standings, but with a No. 7 qualifying effort and a loss in the second round, he lost some ground. His biggest rival, teammate Tony Pedregon, is in second place and is 15 points away after a No. 1 qualifier. He could have taken over first place in the standings, but he also lost in the first round, breaking up a streak of victories than will end at three.

Worsham beat Bruce Sarver for the Funny Car event victory. Worsham went 4.862 in his Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird to earn his fourth win of the season and 11th of his career. Sarver's White Cap Toyota Celica broke at the starting line.

Worsham's win, combined with a loss by Gary Densham to Sarver, moved Worsham into third place. This is the first time Densham has not been in the top three of the standings since the spring Las Vegas race.

"We looked at the ladder and we saw that while we never have it easy, we didn't have the toughest road ahead of us," Worsham said. "Usually when that happens, we lose in the first round. The conditions were wonderful, and we are more than happy to break up that 1,2,3 Force team thing."

While the win was enough to put a smile on Worsham's face, he was especially pleased to get a victory at the Texas Motorplex. In 1990 Worsham earned his professional license at the all-concrete quarter-mile. Two professional racers must sign off on the license, and Kenny Bernstein and Don Prudhomme signed Worsham's.

"I was thinking about that when I was sitting in the staging lanes before one of the qualifying runs," Worsham said. "I was 20 years old and I was out here trying to get a license. We made the runs in that right lane. It's very cool because 12 years later, we win a race here. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined that I would be winning this race right now. It's very special."

Coughlin went 6.826 at 202.33 in his Jeg's Mail Order Chevy Cavalier to win for the seventh time this season and third in a row. He beat Gene Wilson, who left the line early in his Mopar Parts Dodge Neon R/T. Coughlin increased his points lead over Jim Yates with the victory, the 30th of his career. Coughlin is 108 points ahead of Yates.

"We've had the kind of luck here that either we don't qualify (like in 2001) or we win the race," Coughlin said. "It's always been a place that I wanted to do well at. It's very exciting to win here."

Not only did Coughlin pick up a category-leading victory at the track where he started his career, but he also beat the two drivers sitting in second and third place - Yates and Greg Anderson. Coughlin beat Anderson in the second round and Yates in the semifinals.

"I definitely have to stand back and pinch myself because the competition in Pro Stock is so tough right now," Coughlin said. "Going into every Sunday, there are 16 guys who can win the race."

The NHRA POWERade Drag Racing series continues in Las Vegas at The Strip at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The ACDelco Las Vegas Nationals will run Oct. 24-27. The season finale will be at Pomona Raceway in Pomona, Calif., Nov. 7-10.

-nhra-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Bruce Sarver , Jeg Coughlin , Larry Dixon , Kenny Bernstein , Del Worsham , John Force , Doug Kalitta , Greg Anderson , Gary Densham , Gene Wilson , Cory McClenathan , Don Prudhomme