KALITTA CLAIMS NO. 1 QUALIFYING POSITION AT O'REILLY NHRA SUMMER NATIONALS PRESENTED BY CASTROL GTX Rookie Hight leads in Funny Car and reigning motorsports driver of the year Anderson leads way in Pro Stock TOPEKA, Kan. -- Doug Kalitta's ...
KALITTA CLAIMS NO. 1 QUALIFYING POSITION AT O'REILLY NHRA SUMMER NATIONALS PRESENTED BY CASTROL GTX
Rookie Hight leads in Funny Car and reigning motorsports driver of the year Anderson leads way in Pro Stock
TOPEKA, Kan. -- Doug Kalitta's 4.505-second run from Friday held up Saturday and he will enter Sunday's final eliminations of the 17th annual O'Reilly NHRA Summer Nationals presented by Castrol GTX as the No. 1 qualifier in Top Fuel for the fourth time this season and 27th time in his career.
Kalitta, the current Top Fuel points leader, has three wins this year and 22 for his career, but none previously in his Mac Tools dragster at Heartland Park Topeka.
"We had such a nice solid run Friday that we were able to try different things for our race-day setup today," Kalitta said. "It's one of the big advantages of qualifying well early on. I'm excited about tomorrow. There doesn't seem to be one lane that's better than the other so it should be a great race."
Robert Hight (Funny Car) and Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) also were the other top qualifiers in their respective categories at the $1.9 million race, the ninth of 23 events on the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.
Kalitta will enter Sunday's final eliminations with a 43-point lead (684-641) in the NHRA POWERade Top Fuel point standings over defending series champion Tony Schumacher .
"It's critical for us to go rounds and stay ahead of [Tony] Schumacher," Kalitta said. "We're pretty tight in the points with him and we definitely want to go at least as many rounds as he does. You try not to concentrate on the points too much but they're always right there. Everyone knows what's at stake."
The rookie Hight's Auto Club Ford Mustang was the quickest car throughout Funny Car qualifying and his second pass on Friday, at 4.729 seconds, was a track record that earned him his third No. 1 qualifying position in nine career starts.
It was just a year ago at Heartland Park Topeka that Hight earned his Funny Car license following his now-teammate Eric Medlen's first career final round appearance.
"I remember being here one year ago and doing my licensing runs," Hight said. "(Team owner) John (Force) told me then that I wasn't guaranteed a job but that he wanted me to go ahead and get my license in case something came up. Now here I am one year later as the No. 1 qualifier in one of the fastest Funny Cars in the world."
Reigning motorsports Driver of the Year Greg Anderson earned the No. 1 qualifying position in Pro Stock with a track record 6.716-second pass at 204.57 mph in the first of his final two qualifying runs Saturday. It is Anderson's second No. 1 qualifying position this season in his Summit Racing Pontiac and the 35th of his career.
Anderson, who was winless in 2005 until back-to-back wins the past two weeks (Atlanta and Columbus, Ohio), has won here in Topeka in both 2003 and 2004 and he appears poised to make it three in a row in both respects.
"We didn't forget how to race," Anderson said of his slow start to the season. "We didn't get stupid overnight or stop making horsepower. We just had some little tuning things that got us in those first few races and some other cars got off to great starts. We panicked a little bit and got defensive, which isn't our style. We finally went back to racing the way we like to race and the results have been great."
Final eliminations in all four classes are scheduled to begin Sunday at 11 a.m.