Las Vegas: Friday qualifying summary

Kalitta, Bazemore and Anderson qualifying leaders Friday at NHRA Summitracing.Com Nationals. LAS VEGAS -- Doug Kalitta led a record setting day of qualifying Friday at the NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas ...

Kalitta, Bazemore and Anderson qualifying leaders Friday at NHRA Summitracing.Com Nationals.

LAS VEGAS -- Doug Kalitta led a record setting day of qualifying Friday at the NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Whit Bazemore and Greg Anderson also were leaders in their respective categories at the $1.8 million race, the fourth of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.

Kalitta powered his special Kid Rock theme Mac Tools dragster to a track record time of 4.499 seconds at 330.63 mph while the famed rock star looked on at the starting line.

"The track is in great shape and there's plenty of grip out there," Kalitta said. "It could be quicker and faster with similar conditions expected tomorrow. Our team is really making a lot of power and it's a lot of fun when you are running this well. We threw off the blower belt at the top end on that run or it may have produced a little higher speed. We ran 279 to the eighth-mile, which is the fastest our car has gone to that point of the track. We may be able to challenge Larry (Dixon) for the speed record before the weekend is over."

Kalitta, who has earned all three No. 1 qualifying positions this season, will become only the second Top Fuel driver in NHRA history to open the season with four straight No. 1 qualifying efforts if he holds on to the top spot following Saturday's qualifying. Gary Beck accomplished the feat in 1983, opening the season with five straight No. 1 efforts.

Larry Dixon set a national speed record at 332.75 mph, qualifying third at 4.537 in the Miller Lite dragster.

"The fastest I've ever been was 327 and this was certainly a big difference," Dixon said. "You tell people you go 327 and they say, 'Wow, that's fast.' I always say, 'Not if the guy you're racing is going 330.' Now I don't have to sound like a duck anymore. I've never had the speed record before so it's pretty cool. Las Vegas is an altitude track so it's something to get it done here. (Crew chief Dick) LaHaie's been working on getting our speed up and the car seemed to respond."

Rookie David Baca was second overall with a career-best run of 4.528 at 320.36 in his American Wheels dragster. Brandon Bernstein, winner of the last two events, qualified fourth in the Budweiser King dragster, running 4.557 at 325.77.

Bazemore set the pace in Funny Car, covering the distance in 4.780 at 323.43 in his Matco Tools Dodge Stratus.

"That was a good run," Bazemore said. "We're excited. We've had good performance all year, but we haven't been the No. 1 qualifier yet. I think we can tomorrow."

Bazemore's teammate, Gary Scelzi, escaped injury after his Stratus suffered a spectacular engine explosion near the finish line.

"It was running really well and then the front-end got light and it moved to the left and I yanked it right and pedaled it," Scelzi said. "That's the absolute wrong time to pedal it because it's got 77 gallons a minute of nitromethane going and it lit all the fuel off when I got back (on the accelerator) and it went kaboom. I'm OK and the car is fine. We'll put another motor in it, put all new ignition on it and make sure everything is fine and go back and run it tomorrow."

Del Worsham was second in his Checker Schuck's Kragen Pontiac Firebird with a 4.811 at 318.24. His teammate, Johnny Gray, was third overall with a 4.824 at 321.12. Gary Densham set the track speed record in a Ford Mustang at 326.56 mph, the second-fastest speed in Funny Car history.

John Force qualified 10th with a run of 4.919 at 312.93 and if he remains in the quick-16 will break the record for longest qualifying streak in NHRA history at 304 races. The last time he failed to qualify was at the 1987 NHRA Finals at Pomona (Calif.) Raceway.

Anderson, the current Pro Stock points leader, covered the distance with a track-record run of 6.880 at 201.28 in his Vegas General Construction Pontiac Grand Am to lead the 16-car order.

Kurt Johnson was second in his ACDelco Chevy Cavalier at 6.883 at 200.74, while his father Warren was third in his GM Performance Parts Grand Am. Scott Geoffrion posted the first 200 mph Pro Stock run at The Strip when he drove his Nitrofish Ford Escort to a fourth place qualifying effort of 6.903 at 200.00.


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Series NHRA
Drivers Larry Dixon , Kurt Johnson , Del Worsham , Whit Bazemore , John Force , Gary Scelzi , Doug Kalitta , Greg Anderson , David Baca , Gary Densham , Scott Geoffrion , Brandon Bernstein , Johnny Gray