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Kalitta, Pedregon, Yates and Savoie win at Lucas Oil Nationals. MOHNTON, Pa. - Doug Kalitta captured his first victory in more than a year Monday at the rain-delayed Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway. Tony Pedregon, Jim Yates and...

Kalitta, Pedregon, Yates and Savoie win at Lucas Oil Nationals.

MOHNTON, Pa. - Doug Kalitta captured his first victory in more than a year Monday at the rain-delayed Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway.

Tony Pedregon, Jim Yates and Angelle Savoie also were winners in their respective categories at the $1.9 million race, the 18th of 23 events in the NHRA POWERADE Drag Racing Series.

Kalitta claimed his ninth career NHRA victory by defeating Kenny Bernstein in the final round. Kalitta clocked a run of 4.560 seconds at 320.51 mph in his Mac Tools dragster to hold off Bernstein's Budweiser King dragster that posted a run of 4.581 at 322.11.

"It's real big for the team to get this win," said Kalitta. "It's been quite a while that's for sure. (Crew chiefs) Connie (Kalitta) and Jim Oberhofer and the whole team had that thing running good. You wish you could go to every race and have the car running like that."

Kalitta, who used a consistent 4.5-second tune-up, defeated Bruce Litton, Larry Dixon and Darrell Russell before knocking off Bernstein in the final round.

With his runner-up finish, Bernstein cut Dixon's points lead to 65 points in the Top Fuel points chase. Pedregon used a starting line advantage to earn his fourth win of the season when he powered his Castrol Syntec Ford Mustang to a run of 4.829 at 318.62 to hold off Whit Bazemore's quicker but losing pass of 4.814, 318.69 in his Matco Tools Pontiac Firebird.

"If you look at the ladder, we beat some pretty stout cars today," said Pedregon of his 17th career victory. "The end result, it was a good race. The people who showed up here today got their money's worth, that's for sure. "

Pedregon defeated Dean Skuza, Bruce Sarver and Ron Capps en route to the victory. His fourth win of 2002 is the most victories in one season for Pedregon.

With the victory, Pedregon now trails his team owner, John Force, by 122 points for the Funny Car championship.

Yates captured his first win since May 2001 by defeating Mike Edwards in the final round. Yates clocked a run of 6.870 at 199.67 in his SplitFire/Peak Pontiac Grand Am, but was handed the victory as Edwards fouled at the start behind the wheel of his Young Life Chevy Cavalier.

"It seems like the longer you wait the better it feels when you get it," said Yates. "After Indy, we went home and worked really hard. I'm not even thinking about leading the Pro Stock points by three rounds. I want to enjoy this win. We beat a bunch of tough people today and I don't want to think about the points chase."

Yates, who won from the No. 1 qualifying position, knocked off Tom Martino, Ron Krisher and Warren Johnson to pick up his 24th career victory.

With the victory, Yates moved from third place in the points standings to the top spot and now leads Greg Anderson by 59 points.

Savoie nearly clinched her third consecutive Pro Stock Bike championship by winning her fifth race of the year when Karen Stoffer fouled at the start giving the victory to Savoie. Savoie, on her Mohegan Sun Suzuki, recorded a run of 7.210, 184.75 to capture her 27th career victory. The Pro Stock Bike final featured the first all-female final round in NHRA competition since 1982 when Shirley Muldowney defeated Lucille Lee in the Top Fuel final.

"I got really emotional after the run," said Savoie. "It was because if all goes well in Las Vegas we're going to win the championship. After the year we've had, with sponsors and things with the other competitors, things are going really great. Our bike is running awesome and Star Racing deserves all the credit for that."

Savoie defeated Keith Dennis, Steve Johnson and Antron Brown to advance to the final.

The victory puts Savoie 173 points ahead of Craig Treble and in position to clinch her third consecutive NHRA crown if she qualifies at the next Pro Stock Bike event in Las Vegas.

The next NHRA POWERADE Drag Racing Series event is the 15th annual O'Reilly Mid-South Nationals presented by Pennzoil, Sept. 19-22, at Memphis Motorsports Park in Millington, Tenn.

-nhra-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Shirley Muldowney , Antron Brown , Bruce Sarver , Larry Dixon , Warren Johnson , Tony Pedregon , Dean Skuza , Whit Bazemore , Ron Capps , John Force , Doug Kalitta , Greg Anderson , Ron Krisher , Craig Treble , Tom Martino , Keith Dennis , Karen Stoffer , Jim Oberhofer , Steve Johnson