Madison: Saturday qualifying report

DOUG KALITTA EARNS TOP FUEL NO. 1 QUALIFIER AT SEARS CRAFTSMAN NHRA NATIONALS Gary Scelzi, Kurt Johnson and Andrew Hines lead their categories MADISON, Ill. -- POWERade Series Top Fuel points leader Doug Kalitta earned the No. 1 qualifying ...

DOUG KALITTA EARNS TOP FUEL NO. 1 QUALIFIER AT SEARS CRAFTSMAN NHRA NATIONALS
Gary Scelzi, Kurt Johnson and Andrew Hines lead their categories

MADISON, Ill. -- POWERade Series Top Fuel points leader Doug Kalitta earned the No. 1 qualifying position at the Sears Craftsman NHRA Nationals with a 4.564-second pass in the fourth and final round of qualifying Saturday night at Gateway Raceway.

The other top qualifiers are Gary Scelzi in Funny Car (4.797 seconds, 325.14 mph), Kurt Johnson in Pro Stock (6.750, 204.14) and Andrew Hines in Pro Stock Motorcycle (7.114, 186.72).

It was the third No. 1 qualifier this season and 26th in his career for Doug Kalitta, who is a three-time and back-to-back winner at the Sears Craftsman Nationals, the 12th of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Series.

"I've been very fortunate here," said Kalitta, who drives the Mac Tools dragster. "If I ever figure it out, I'll let you know."

Kalitta will enter final eliminations today beginning at 4:30 p.m. with a 62-point lead over the U.S. Army dragster driven by Tony Schumacher (qualified second), and a 68-point lead over the Miller Lite dragster driven by Larry Dixon (qualified fourth).

"The car was strong," Kalitta said. "We had a nice car and we ended up with a nice run."

As good as Kalitta has been at Gateway Raceway, Scelzi has been even better in his Mopar/Oakley Dodge Stratus with four wins overall, three in Top Fuel and one in Funny Car.

"This has got to be the absolute best I've done at any race track, even Pomona, but tomorrow's going to be anyone's game," Scelzi said.

"We went for the pole tonight, that was the plan," he said.

Kurt Johnson, who earned his first No. 1 qualifying position of the season the previous weekend at the K&N Filters NHRA Supernationals, set the number in his Friday night run and it held up all day Saturday.

Johnson, who drives the ACDelco Chevy Cobalt, is coming off of a weekend in which he had the top car through qualifying and won two rounds before he spun his tires against his father Warren Johnson in the semifinals.

"It's all hills and valleys out here so you've got to take it while you can get it," said Johnson, who is currently in fifth place in the POWERade series Pro Stock standings.

Hines' Vance & Hines Screamin' Eagle Harley-Davidson was the top motorcycle all weekend as he turned in the best run in all four rounds of qualifying.

"If we can keep it up this weekend, we will be a tough team to beat," Hines said.

-nhra-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Larry Dixon , Kurt Johnson , Warren Johnson , Tony Schumacher , Gary Scelzi , Doug Kalitta , Andrew Hines