Topeka: Saturday qualifying report

Anderson Earns Nhra King Demon Crown Victory, While McClenathan, Bazemore and Johns Take Top Qualifying Honors at O'Reilly NHRA Summer Nationals TOPEKA, Kan. -- Greg Anderson won the $50,000 NHRA King Demon Crown Saturday during the O'Reilly...

Anderson Earns Nhra King Demon Crown Victory, While McClenathan, Bazemore and Johns Take Top Qualifying Honors at O'Reilly NHRA Summer Nationals

TOPEKA, Kan. -- Greg Anderson won the $50,000 NHRA King Demon Crown Saturday during the O'Reilly NHRA Summer Nationals at Heartland Park Topeka.

Cory McClenathan, Whit Bazemore and Steve Johns will lead their respective categories into Sunday's 11 a.m. eliminations at the $1.9 million race, the ninth of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.

Anderson defeated rookie David Connolly by 0.0001-second in the lucrative bonus event for Pro Stock racers. Anderson drove his Vegas General Construction Pontiac Grand Am to a performance of 6.907 seconds at 198.93 mph to overcome a holeshot start by Connolly, who was edged at the finish when his Bullet Motorsports Chevy Cavalier posted a 6.964 at 198.64.

"What a drag race," Anderson said. "I was afraid to look over. I knew I was behind and the car shook on every gear change. I finally took a peek at 1,000 feet and it looked like I was behind. Then we got past the scoreboards and the win light in my lane was on."

The final round of the bonus event was moved to Heartland Park after inclement weather left NHRA officials with no time to complete the race last weekend at Route 66 Raceway near Chicago.

It was Anderson's first King Demon Crown victory, and his latest conquest in his two-year domination of the 200-mph category. Should he win tomorrow, Anderson can pocket a $25,000 "double-up" bonus from NHRA, bringing his weekend winnings to more than $100,000.

"Everything that could go right for me this year has fallen my way," Anderson added. "I couldn't wait to get to this race. This is our biggest paycheck of the year and I felt like I let it slip through my fingers last year against Kurt (Johnson)."

McClenathan claimed his 28th career No. 1 position and first since the 2002 season with a 4.513 at 320.58 performance in his Berryman/Carrier Boyz Top Fuel dragster.

"It's been a little while since this has happened," McClenathan said. "It's just so hard to get (the No. 1 spot) nowadays, especially with the Kalitta group out here. They seem to win all of them. I am so proud of my team. We've basically just been together since Las Vegas and although I knew we had a good group and never thought it would all come together this soon. This is the first time in a long time where I feel real confident about our car no matter if it's hot or cool out there. It's a nice feeling."

Bazemore earned his second No. 1 position of the season and 26th of his career by driving his Matco Tools Dodge Stratus R/T to a 4.792 at 323.19.

"We've been to four finals in the last five races, I mean, this is a dream right now," Bazemore said. "It's fantastic. Lee Beard (crew chief) and this team, what can you say? They continue to give me a perfect car every round and that's key because you have to go down the track every session, regardless of the conditions, if you want to win rounds. Maybe we'll be competitive tomorrow. We'll just have to wait and see. It's a drag race so you have to go out there and win every round. I like our chances, things could not be better right now."

In Pro Stock, Johns took his first career No. 1 qualifying award by clocking a 6.853 at 201.10 in his Sportlite Chevy Cavalier, owned by Victor Cagnazzi.

"Something like this happening to this team early on is really a bit of a surprise," Johns said. "It's a lot of fun and we'll definitely take it, even if it feels a little out of place for us. I mean, we have gotten some signs from Dave Connolly, who also uses Grump (Bill Jenkins) horsepower and we hoped we were getting close, but I'm not sure we would have picked Topeka as the place we'd get it done. This is a great boost for our team and for Grump. Bill's 73 now but he's still hard at it every day. This form of racing is extremely tough but he's been a part of it since it since the start 30-something years ago. I know he's excited."

-nhra-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Whit Bazemore , Greg Anderson , Cory McClenathan , David Connolly , Dave Connolly , Steve J