Sears Point Race Story

Sears Point - Race Recap by Larry Sullivan SONOMA, Calif. - SUMMIT FastNews - By the time the final pair of cars went down the race track at the 11th annual NHRA Autolite Nationals there were a new face, a familiar but long absent face, and a ...

Sears Point - Race Recap by Larry Sullivan

SONOMA, Calif. - SUMMIT FastNews - By the time the final pair of cars went down the race track at the 11th annual NHRA Autolite Nationals there were a new face, a familiar but long absent face, and a familiar family name in the winners' circle. Doug Kalitta, Cruz Pedregon, and Warren Johnson outlasted tough competition to rise to the top at Sears Point Raceway Sunday. Kalitta took the honors in Top Fuel, having qualified number one and facing Bruce Sarver in the final round. Ironically, after using superior performance to earn the number one qualifier position and post the quickest elapsed times in the first three rounds of eliminations, Kalitta used a superior reaction time to win in the final round, his 4.802 second, 306.43 mph run enough to win against Sarver's quicker 4.783 at 302.41. "It's really hard to believe we won this thing," said Kalitta, "It's a real tribute to Ed 'the Ace' McCulloch (Kalitta's crew chief and Craftsman Crew Chief of the Race) and all the guys." Kalitta is an NHRA rookie, having competed in USAC open-wheeled oval-track cars for several years and having worked for six years on his uncle Connie Kalitta's Top Fuel team. Winston points leader Cory McClenathan lost in the first round, but did his closest competitor, Joe Amato. Amato qualified ahead of McClenathan, closing the margin to just 36 points. Pedregon faced Whit Bazemore in the Funny Car final round, winning with a 5.073 at 300.80 against Bazemore's 5.268 at 289.38, keeping the Pedregon brothers' win streak alive at four consecutive events. Among them, Cruz, Tony, and Frank Pedregon have won seven of the thirteen events contested to date. "We're not a 'win one for the Gipper' family. We just kind of let the other do their thing." "It was a weird weekend," continued Cruz, There was a spot on the track the car just wouldn't get over. I had to pedal it every run, including the first round of eliminations. Wes Cerney (Cruz's crew chief and Craftsman Crew Chief of the Race) said he'd fix it. In the second round, against my brother Tony, I just kept the pedal down and it was silk-smooth, no shake at all." Johnson's win in Pro Stock raised his career total to 68 wins, tying John Force on the all-time list. Johnson posted a winning run of 7.135 at 196.24 mph to earn the win over a red-lighting V. Gaines. "Luck played a huge part in this win. We were too aggressive in the final and we shook the tires extremely hard." Luck also played a part in the semifinals, where Johnson misjudged the clutch setting and only a tardy starting line reaction his opponent allowed Johnson's off-pace 7.168 at 190.75 to win, by less than a foot. During most of the event, however, Johnson dominated in his usual style, setting both ends of the track record during qualifying and quickest in each of the first two rounds of eliminations. Since he was the only driver currently in the top ten in Winston points to survive the first round of eliminations, Johnson's win increased his lead in the points. Like the other two winners, Johnson's crew chief, Mike Stryker, was selected as Craftsman Crew Chief of the Race. Other final-round results: Federal-Mogul Dragster - John Shoemaker defeated Steve Faria Federal-Mogul Funny Car - Bucky Austin defeated Larry Miner Competition Eliminator - David Rampy defeated Darren Davis Super Comp - David Rampy defeated Jim Hughes Super Stock - Tony DeFrank defeated Jay Cason Stock - Joe Sorensen defeated Cal Method Super Gas - Mike Blodgett defeated William Boxold Results provided by the FastNews Network, courtesy of Summit Racing Equipment ** http://www.summitracing.com/ **

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Bruce Sarver , Frank Pedregon , Warren Johnson , Whit Bazemore , Joe Amato , Doug Kalitta , Cruz Pedregon , Cory McClenathan , Jim Hughes , David Rampy , Bucky Austin , Tony DeFrank , Steve Faria