Pomona2: Saturday qualifying summary

Kalitta, Force and Anderson Earn Top Qualifying Spots at K&N Filters Winternationals POMONA, Calif. - John Force claimed the No. 1 qualifying spot in Funny Car Saturday at the 44th annual K&N Filters Winternationals at Pomona Raceway. Doug...

Kalitta, Force and Anderson Earn Top Qualifying Spots at K&N Filters Winternationals

POMONA, Calif. - John Force claimed the No. 1 qualifying spot in Funny Car Saturday at the 44th annual K&N Filters Winternationals at Pomona Raceway.

Doug Kalitta and Greg Anderson also earned the No. 1 qualifying position in their respective categories at the $2 million race, the first of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.

Force powered his Castrol GTX High-Mileage Ford Mustang down the quarter-mile track in 4.746 seconds at 324.36 mph during the final round of qualifying to top the 16-car order. Force has been the No. 1 qualifier 118 times in his career.

"If you want to get in the fight, you have got to get after these young kids," Force said. "I lost close to 15 pounds over the winter just to get into the fight. The E.T. is important because it lets you flex your muscles before (eliminations). We're going to have great racing (Sunday)."

Force bumped his newest teammate, Eric Medlen, out of the top spot. Medlen, driver of the Castrol Syntec Mustang, is a rookie. Medlen held the No. 1 spot following two of the three qualifying days.

"He's really good and from what I hear, he's out-talking me too," Force said. "He's proving himself already, but Sunday is always a different story. He seems to be handling it all well. He laughs and smiles a lot. He is loving what he is doing."

Force said the 30-year-old rookie is filling an important gap on the radio too.

"When I am down, Eric gets me back up," Force said. "Gary Densham will not wear a radio when we are in the car. But Eric and I talk constantly."

Kalitta earned the 18th No. 1 qualifier of his career with a 4.484 at 329.99 in his Mac Tools dragster to pace the Top Fuel category.

"I really wanted to get a good run in on the last qualifying session," Kalitta said. "Hopefully we can go out and run similar numbers all day Sunday."

This is the first weekend that Kalitta and crew chief Rahn Tobler have worked together. Tobler is the husband and former crew chief for three-time Top Fuel champion Shirley Muldowney. Muldowney retired in November and Tobler was hired to tune Kalitta's dragster.

"This is the first time we've worked together, but I know a lot about Rahn," Kalitta said. "It's great working with him. Hopefully we can fine-tune our consistency this year."

Anderson drove his Vegas General Construction Pontiac Grand Am to his 18th career No. 1 qualifying position by setting both ends of the track record at 6.713 at 206.10.

"I'm shocked," Anderson said. "I didn't expect to get results this good this soon. All four of our qualifying runs would have been good enough to set the (top qualifying spot)."

Anderson, the 2003 NHRA POWERade Pro Stock champion, set 19 track records last season along with both ends of the national record. This season Anderson said he is starting with a car that could be even better.

"We've got a brand new car," Anderson said. "We had Jerry Haas build us a car. We are still learning about the car but even when it makes ugly runs, it's still fast. There's some magic in the car."

Final eliminations are set for 11 a.m. Sunday.

-nhra-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Shirley Muldowney , John Force , Doug Kalitta , Greg Anderson , Gary Densham , Jerry Haas , Eric Medlen