Kalitta, Scelzi, Anderson and Johnson Earn Victories at Sears Craftsman NHRA Nationals MADISON, Ill. -- Doug Kalitta moved into the Top Fuel points lead with a victory Sunday at the Sears Craftsman NHRA Nationals at Gateway International ...
Kalitta, Scelzi, Anderson and Johnson Earn Victories at Sears Craftsman NHRA Nationals
MADISON, Ill. -- Doug Kalitta moved into the Top Fuel points lead with a victory Sunday at the Sears Craftsman NHRA Nationals at Gateway International Raceway.
Gary Scelzi, Greg Anderson and Steve Johnson also were winners at the $1.8 million race, the 12th of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.
The event was marred by a second round crash involving Top Fuel driver Darrell Russell. Russell's dragster went out of control and crashed just past the finish line. He was transported to St. Louis Medical Center where he was later pronounced dead.
In the Top Fuel final, Kalitta powered his Mac Tools dragster to a 4.535 second run at 326.87 mph to defeat teammate David Grubnic, who ran 4.794 at 304.80 in his machine. It was Kalitta's second victory of the season and 17th of his career.
"Running against David in the final was great," Kalitta said. "We did the best to block out everything that happened today, but it was really tough. I am not going to celebrate tonight. I am going to pack my stuff up and move on to the next event."
Kalitta now leads Tony Schumacher by 11 points. It is the first time Kalitta has led the points standings in his career.
Scelzi scored his first Funny Car victory of the season and 27th of his career by defeating John Force, who moved into the points lead with the runner-up effort. Scelzi clocked a 4.827 at 325.30 in his Oakley Dodge Stratus R/T, while Force's Castrol GTX Start Up Ford Mustang lost traction and posted a 5.321 at 210.28.
"It really felt like we had the right combination all weekend long and we were able to sustain a quality effort each time down the track," said an emotional Scelzi in the winner's circle, who noted that he and Russell were like brothers. "Darrell Russell loved what he did and it's unfortunate and sad and it really bothers me, but I've got to say he was doing what he loved. It's a tragic shame, but Darrell touched a lot of people and that's all I can say."
Anderson raced to his ninth victory of the season in Pro Stock and 25th of his career by powering past Steve Johns in the final round. Anderson ran 6.726 at 204.98 in his Vegas General Construction Pontiac Grand Am while Johns trailed in his Sportlite Chevy Cavalier at 6.779 at 205.32.
"This win means very little to me right now after what happened today," said Anderson, who increased his series points lead to 409 over second place Kurt Johnson. "I am just ready to get home to my family."
Johnson, an 18-year veteran in Pro Stock Bike, claimed his first victory in his seventh career final round appearance. He used a holeshot start and recorded a 7.220 at 183.34 on his K&N Filters Suzuki to defeat the quicker Matco Tools Suzuki of Craig Treble, who posted a 7.129 at 186.28.
"I am elated to finally win one of these races after 18 years of trying," Johnson said. "But I am in no mood to celebrate. Darrell was a great friend to all of the racers and we are going to miss him."
With the win, Johnson moved to sixth overall in the points standings, 247 behind leader Andrew Hines, who lost in the second round to Michael Phillips on a red-light start.
The next NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series continues with the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals, July 16-18 at Bandimere Speedway in Denver.