Kalitta, Densham, Line and Tonglet Snag The Provisional Top Spots at 50th Annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals CLERMONT, Ind. - Doug Kalitta paced the Top Fuel class Friday as qualifying for the 50th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals kicked off its ...
Kalitta, Densham, Line and Tonglet Snag The Provisional Top Spots at 50th Annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals
CLERMONT, Ind. - Doug Kalitta paced the Top Fuel class Friday as qualifying for the 50th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals kicked off its golden anniversary celebration at Indianapolis Raceway Park.
Gary Densham (Funny Car), Jason Line (Pro Stock) and GT Tonglet (Pro Stock Bike) also led qualifying in their respective categories at the $2.6 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series event.
Kalitta earned the provisional No. 1 qualifying award in Top Fuel with a 4.544-second run at 320.51 mph in the Mac Tools dragster.
Kalitta has been the No. 1 qualifier three times this season and is looking to be the top qualifier for his sponsor's race.
"It's great to be here at Mac's biggest race and see my car on all the flags," Kalitta said. "But it's even better to get a good lap in right from the start and get away from the bump spot. I'm not going to let the fact that this is a Mac race put any extra pressure on me. I'm just going to race like we normally do and hope we can get some luck, or at least a little consistency, on race day so we can get a win.
"The guys are definitely on a roll. They've found something that's working really well for us and it's showing with our performances on the race track. That was a good start for us and we hope to continue with a memorable weekend."
The longest-running race on the NHRA schedule has five qualifying sessions for all four pro categories. Teams have two sessions on Saturday and two on Sunday before final eliminations kick off at 11 a.m. on Monday.
Densham went to the top of the Funny Car category with a pass of 4.795 at 320.28 in his Auto Club Ford Mustang.
Densham has yet to earn a victory at the famed U.S. Nationals.
"Every Indy is special but the 50th is really something," Densham said. "I don't think I've ever been so nervous before a first round of qualifying before. You just look around this place and feel all the history. Then you see the crowd and it all hits you that you're racing at Indy.
"I clearly remember the 25th anniversary of this race and at that point I had never been east of Denver. I did all my racing on the West Coast. But I thought I'd better go to Indy because I was sure they'd be getting rid of drag racing real soon. I figured people would get tired of these stinky, loud hot rods. Now we're here for the 50th anniversary and I'm No. 1, at least for now. Our sport didn't dry up and blow away after all."
Line drove his KB Framers Pontiac Grand Am to a 6.810 pass at 201.64 to pace the Pro Stock category.
Teammates with current points leader Greg Anderson, Line is looking to earn his first professional win at Indy. He is second in the point standings with three victories so far this season. Line and Anderson faced each other during the first qualifying session.
"That's only the second time ever that the win light has come on in my lane when Greg was in the other lane," Line said. "The other time was in the final at Chicago when he red-lit and I won. I couldn't believe my eyes. I had to look over a few times to make sure I wasn't seeing things.
"My win in Memphis has been a real big boost for me mentally. I have the same equipment as Greg but I wasn't driving as well. We switched back to my old car and I won. I doubt there was anything wrong with the newer car I'd been driving but drivers are head cases and I just felt like I couldn't drive it right. The crew guys are teasing me and saying they'll have to bury me in this car one day."
Tonglet rode his Vance & Hines Screamin' Eagle Harley-Davidson to a 7.193 run at 186.92. Tonglet has earned one top qualifier in his career - the top spot at Denver in 2003. He's not only looking to keep his top position, but he wants to win the K&N Filters Pro Bike Klash, the bonus event for the two-wheel category.
"It makes the whole weekend so much easier when you come right out of the box and everything is together and working right," Tonglet said. "It's a big mental advantage. That wasn't a perfect run by any means but it's a good start and now we can work on tomorrow's K&N Klash and trying to win that race for Vance & Hines and Harley-Davidson.
"Everyone's gunning for (teammate) Andrew because he's No. 1 in the points but we are a two-bike team. I'd love to be the low qualifier here at Indy. This is the biggest race of the year."