Las Vegas: Saturday qualifying summary

Kalitta, Bazemore and Anderson earn no. 1 qualifying positions at NHRA Summitracing.Com Nationals in Las Vegas. LAS VEGAS -- Doug Kalitta became the second Top Fuel driver in NHRA history to open the season with four consecutive No. 1 qualifying...

Kalitta, Bazemore and Anderson earn no. 1 qualifying positions at NHRA Summitracing.Com Nationals in Las Vegas.

LAS VEGAS -- Doug Kalitta became the second Top Fuel driver in NHRA history to open the season with four consecutive No. 1 qualifying efforts by heading the 16-car field Saturday at the NHRA SummitRacing.com Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Whit Bazemore and Greg Anderson also were No. 1 qualifiers in their respective pro categories at the $1.8 million race, the fourth of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.

Kalitta earned his 11th career top qualifying effort with a track record performance of 4.499 seconds at 332.10 mph in his special Kid Rock-themed Mac Tools dragster. Two-time Top Fuel champion Gary Beck claimed five consecutive No. 1 qualifying awards to open the 1983 season, and owns the record for the longest consecutive No. 1 qualifying streak in Top Fuel at nine races (1982-'83).

"Qualifying on top is really great and getting points and money for the Budweiser Shootout (special bonus event for Top Fuel drivers at Pomona, Calif. during Auto Club NHRA Finals in November) is one of our primary goals," Kalitta said. "It's cool to be mentioned alongside Gary Beck and hopefully we can top that record this year. It's nice to get top qualifiers but we want to win some races too. That will help us achieve our other goal, which is to win the POWERade championship. My cousin Scott has won the championship a couple of times (1994-'95) and with the way our boys have this Mac Tools car running, we feel it's within our reach this year too."

Larry Dixon was second in the Miller Lite dragster, clocking a 4.527 with a national record speed of 332.75 mph.

Bazemore claimed his first No. 1 qualifying effort of the season and 22nd of his career by covering the quarter-mile distance in 4.788 at 324.44 in his Matco Tools Dodge Stratus.

"We feel pretty strong, but tomorrow's a different day," Bazemore said. "Of course we need to have consistency to win, which I feel like we have."

Gary Densham, the defending winner of the event and current points leader in the category, was second in his Auto Club Ford Mustang, recording a 4.796 with a track record speed of 326.56, also the second-fastest Funny Car speed in NHRA history.

Anderson, who is leading the Pro Stock points standings, earned his first top qualifying effort of the season and fourth of his career. He powered his Las Vegas General Construction Pontiac Grand Am to a track record performance of 6.880 at 201.28.

He will face defending series champion Jeg Coughlin, a two-time winner at LVMS, in an important first round meeting.

"There are a lot of good cars out here that are qualified," Anderson said. "I ran well and I get to run the world champ in the first round. We plan on giving Jeg a run for his money, and hopefully we'll go all the way tomorrow."

Final elimiantions begin at 11 a.m. (PT).

-nhra-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Jeg Coughlin , Larry Dixon , Whit Bazemore , Doug Kalitta , Greg Anderson , Gary Densham