Kalitta, Force, Schnitz take Joliet wins

In contrast to yesterday's wet weather, the CARQUEST Auto Parts Nationals at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet were held Sunday with no rain delays. The cooler temps allowed exciting side-by-side drag racing that reached speeds well over 300 MPH. Doug ...

In contrast to yesterday's wet weather, the CARQUEST Auto Parts Nationals at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet were held Sunday with no rain delays. The cooler temps allowed exciting side-by-side drag racing that reached speeds well over 300 MPH. Doug Kalitta, John Force, Kurt Johnson and Ryan Schnitz drove to victory lane late Sunday afternoon to hoist the champion trophies into the air.

The top two contenders in the Top Fuel championship points battle met in the finals to duke it out. Points leader Melanie Troxel, who snuck into Sunday's show on her last qualification attempt, met number two Doug Kalitta during the final race of the day.

Troxel eliminated David Grubnic, Doug Herbert and Alan Bradshaw to reach her seventh final round this year. Bradshaw reached the semi-finals for the first time in his pro career after eliminating number one qualifier Tony Schumacher in the first round. Kalitta went to his fourth final after beating Joe Hartley, Bob Vandergriff Jr and Cory McClenathan.

Kalitta won his second straight Wally blasting down the quarter-mile in 4.50 seconds, with a 330.2 MPH top speed. Troxel did a great job of piloting her dragster after she went up on the tires and crossed the center line. Kalitta had a consistently strong car today, making 4 straight runs over 330 MPH.

"The conditions were really good today," said Kalitta. "The competition out here is strong so we're fortunate we can go rounds." On winning four out of the last five POWERade events, Kalitta shared, "It doesn't last forever, so we'll take what we can get."

Funny Car points leader Ron Capps took all three qualification runs to make it into the show, but was eliminated by Robert Hight in the second round. Hight and his two John Force Racing teammates, Eric Medlen and John Force, packed the semi-finals with Ford Mustangs alongside Gary Scelzi's Dodge. Hight and Force got the win lights needed to advance to an all Team Force final.

After a day of amazing speeds, the Funny Car final was less than spectacular. Both cars quit before the finish line and Force coasted across the finish line trailing smoke.

"I dedicated this race to my wife," Force said after winning his first event of the year," said Force. "In 25 years of marriage I've never done that. She's starting to like me again."

"We've had a good racecar all year as you can see from our low quals," Force shared. "But we had 3 good cars this week, we moved up in the points and we're excited about that. Capps has had consistency we've lacked. But this win will gets our heads right."

Defending POWERade Champion Greg Anderson has never won a national event at Route 66 Raceway and that stat will stay on his bio after Sunday. Winning the King Demon Crown bonus event on Saturday and going for a double-up bonus, Anderson eliminated Warren Johnson, Allen Johnson and Richie Stevens to reach the final round. That's where he met friend and former teammate Kurt Johnson, who took out Mark Pawuk, Dave Connolly and Jim Yates throughout the day.

Johnson wasn't intimidated by the champ, pulling in late to the start line. Getting a jump off the line Johnson never looked back. This is his second win of the season.

Ryan Schnitz captured his first Pro Stock Motorcycle trophy of the year from the quickest PSM field in NHRA history. Schnitz met Matt Guidera in the final after defeating Craig Treble, Matt Smith and reigning POWERade champ Andrew Hines. Guidera eliminated Chris Rivas, Angelle Sampey and Chip Ellis along the way to the final round.

The motorcycle final was over before it began though when Guidera fouled on the start line and handed the victory to Schnitz.

"We have a lot of fans out here and it's been a good weekend. We're happy to be racing here and even happier to be racing for a full year," said Schnitz.

POWERade teams head east to Englishtown, NJ for the 37th Annual K&N Supernationals held June 15-18 at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Doug Herbert , Mark Pawuk , Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson , Ron Capps , John Force , Tony Schumacher , Doug Kalitta , Greg Anderson , David Grubnic , Craig Treble , Cory McClenathan , Melanie Troxel , Allen Johnson , Chris Rivas , Alan Bradshaw , Joe Hartley , Ryan Schnitz , Andrew Hines , Matthew Smith , Eric Medlen , Bob Vandergriff , Chip Ellis , Robert Hight , Matt Guidera , Angelle Sampey , Dave Connolly