Kalitta, Medlen, Anderson and Brown Earn Top Qualifying Honors at Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals MOHNTON, Pa. - Doug Kalitta raced to his sixth No. 1 qualifying position of the season Saturday at the 20th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove...
Kalitta, Medlen, Anderson and Brown Earn Top Qualifying Honors at Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals
MOHNTON, Pa. - Doug Kalitta raced to his sixth No. 1 qualifying position of the season Saturday at the 20th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway.
Eric Medlen, Greg Anderson and Antron Brown also will lead their respective categories into Sunday's 11 a.m. (ET) eliminations at the $1.7 million race, the 21st of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.
Kalitta powered his Mac Tools dragster to a qualifying best run of 4.460 seconds at 330.88 mph for his 22nd career top qualifying award. It was the seventh quickest Top Fuel run in NHRA history.
"It's very cool to lock-up the No. 1 qualifier deal for the Budweiser Shootout," Kalitta said of the lucrative bonus event for qualified Top Fuel drivers that will be held in two weeks in Las Vegas. "It's great to be No. 1 here in Reading also and to see our team cars one, two, three on the ladder. We've never done that before."
With his qualifying performance, Kalitta now trails Tony Schumacher, who qualified fourth in the U.S. Army dragster, by 270 points in the championship chase. Schumacher needs to add just seven points to his series lead tomorrow to claim his second NHRA POWERade world championship.
David Grubnic was second and Scott Kalitta was third in the 16-car Top Fuel lineup. This was the first time that all three cars owned by Connie Kalitta finished as the top three qualifiers at the same race.
"It's a good start but we need to take all these strong Fridays and Saturdays we've been having and make things happen on Sunday," Kalitta added. "The championship deal is all but over. We're looking at second place. But there's no reason to think we can't win a few of these remaining races starting right here in Reading. We certainly have the car to do it."
Rookie driver Medlen, racing at Maple Grove for the first time, collected his second qualifying award of the season in Funny Car with a final pass of 4.741 at 324.12 in his Castrol Syntec Ford Mustang.
"The credit goes to John (Force), he's the one that created all this mess," said Medlen, a top candidate for the Auto Club Road to the Future Award, which recognizes the season's top rookie. "The car has been running good the last couple of races. Not that we were looking for No. 1, but we knew that we were capable of it. All we want is to get those Castrol Fords up there and at the end of the day as long as one of them is up there we will all hold our hands above our head."
Force, the category points leader who could also clinch an NHRA POWERade series title tomorrow if he can increase his lead by 37 points, will start from the number two position. Ron Capps, who led qualifying until the final round, is third.
Anderson, who has already clinched the season championship in Pro Stock, vaulted to the top of the field for the second year in a row at Maple Grove powering his Summit Racing Pontiac Grand Am to a track record time of 6.693 at 205.57. It's his 15th qualifying award of the season (ties him with Warren Johnson for most single-season qualifying awards) and 32nd of his career. Should Anderson win the race tomorrow he will set the record for the most single-season victories in NHRA history.
"It's another accomplishment (the track record), but it feels good," Anderson said. "It's hard right now to get a leg up on these guys, to get low E.T., to win races, to qualify No. 1. It's nothing like it was early in the season when almost all we had to do was show up and go down the track and we had the pole. Times have changed. We gotta fight and claw for every thousandth we can get."
Two other cars posted sub-6.7 second performances: Anderson teammate Jason Line was second, while local favorite Ken Kortesky, from Richboro, Pa., was third.
"It's gonna be great racing tomorrow," Anderson continued. "I feel great about getting the (No. 1 spot) and tying the record, but it doesn't do too much for tomorrow. We're gonna have to find a way to get even better."
Brown took home the Pro Stock Bike top qualifying award and set a personal-best time with a 7.057 at 187.57 on his U.S. Army Suzuki. It's the seventh race in a row that he has qualified first or second.
"Ever since St. Louis this year we found a combination that finally worked with our bike real well," said Brown of his third No. 1 effort of the season and ninth of his career. "I give tribute to the guys back in the shop. They've been working hard. We've always had the power, it was about getting it to the ground. I have a brand new motorcycle. We just had to get the consistency going. Now that we have the combination, we've just been fine-tweaking it from race to race."
Angelle Savoie, Brown's teammate with the U.S. Army, qualified second, and Andrew Hines is third on the Screamin' Eagle/Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson.