Sonoma: Saturday summary

Force, Kalitta, Anderson and Treble top qualifiers at Fram-Autolite Nationals at Infineon Raceway. SONOMA, Calif. - John Force claimed his third No. 1 qualifying position of the season Saturday and is in position to win for the third consecutive...

Force, Kalitta, Anderson and Treble top qualifiers at Fram-Autolite Nationals at Infineon Raceway.

SONOMA, Calif. - John Force claimed his third No. 1 qualifying position of the season Saturday and is in position to win for the third consecutive week at the FRAM-Autolite Nationals at Infineon Raceway.

Doug Kalitta, Greg Anderson and Craig Treble also will lead their respective categories into Sunday's final eliminations at the $1.9 million event, the 15th of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.

Force powered his Castrol GTX High-Mileage Ford Mustang to the top of the Funny Car order with a track record elapsed time of 4.814 seconds at 316.90 mph to claim his 115th career No. 1 qualifying position. The 12-time NHRA Funny Car champion will attempt to sweep all three races of the Western Swing for the second time in his career on Sunday. Force is the only Funny Car driver to win the Western Swing (1994).

"I'm excited," said Force. "I hope we can win the Western Swing on Sunday. I feel pretty positive. It's exciting to be on a great racetrack. The conditions are good here. We're going to be running in the heat, but we'll be OK."

Kalitta led the 16-car Top Fuel field when he blasted his Mac Tools dragster to a track record performance of 4.531 at 325.77. It was Kalitta's eighth top qualifying position of the year and 15th of his career.

"I thought our time from Friday night would hold," said Kalitta. "Everyone was smoking the tires Saturday afternoon. We got down the track in the second session, so that will give us some confidence heading into Sunday. Hopefully we can go A to B all day and get the win."

Top Fuel points leader Larry Dixon also will try to sweep the Western Swing Sunday after winning in Denver and Seattle the past two weeks. Dixon will start from the second spot and face John Smith in the opening round. The only Top Fuel drivers to accomplish the feat are Joe Amato (1991) and Cory McClenathan (1997).

Anderson drove his Vegas General Construction Pontiac Grand Am to his ninth No. 1 qualifying spot of the season when he clocked a track record pass of 6.750 at 205.10 to lead the Pro Stock field.

"The cars are so consistent that you can almost predict what you're going to run when you go up there," said Anderson. "It's a pleasure to drive down this race track. It's such a smooth race surface that if you shake the tires, it's your fault, not the track."

Kurt Johnson, who trails Anderson by 112 points in the POWERade points standings, qualified on his final attempt and will face his father Warren in round one of eliminations.

Treble paced the quickest Pro Stock Bike field in NHRA history when he rode his Matco Tools Suzuki to a track record elapsed time of 7.062 at 189.79 to earn his first career No. 1 qualifying position.

"Considering the year we've been having, this means a lot to me," said Treble. "It seems like we've been stepping backwards all year long, but what's really happened is that everyone else is just that much better. This year every pass you make is critical."

Andrew Hines clocked the fastest Pro Stock Bike speed in NHRA history when his Vance & Hines Screamin' Eagle Harley-Davidson turned in a performance of 7.105 at 195.28.

Final eliminations begin Sunday at noon.

-nhra-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Larry Dixon , Kurt Johnson , John Force , Joe Amato , Doug Kalitta , Greg Anderson , Craig Treble , Cory McClenathan , Andrew Hines