Kalitta In Charge As NHRA Season Gets Off To Soggy Start In Pomona
Doug Kalitta recorded his career-best elapsed time to lead Top Fuel qualifying Friday during the weather-interrupted opening day of time trials for the 57th annual NHRA Circle K Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.
Only the Pro Stock class was able to complete both rounds of qualifying, as rain began halfway through the second session of Funny Car before NHRA officials concluded time trials. Four-time world champion Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and two-time world champion Matt Hagan (Funny Car) emerged as provisional leaders in their respective categories at the 2017 season-opening event of the 24-race NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.
During the lone Top Fuel session, Kalitta piloted his Mac Tools dragster to a 1,000-foot pass in 3.697-seconds at 325.69 mph to head into Saturday’s qualifying in the No. 1 spot.
“We definitely always love running out here. Pomona, with just the history, is probably one of the coolest tracks on the circuit,” said Kalitta, whose Kalitta Motorsports entry is fielded by uncle and drag racing pioneer Connie Kalitta. “We finished off strong last year and I’m real relieved that the thing had a nice strong run the first qualifying session. It put up a good number. Just a lot of excitement and good way to start for a Friday with only the one run.”
Brittany Force holds the second spot at 3.706-seconds at 322.42 mph in her Monster Energy dragster, with eight-time world champ Tony Schumacher and his U.S. Army dragster third at 3.729/325.06. Rookie Troy Coughlin Jr. is fourth at 3.730/322.81 in the SealMaster dragster.
Antron Brown, the three-time/reigning world champion from Don Schumacher Racing, is fifth at 3.732-seconds and 323.27 mph in his Matco Tools/U.S. Army dragster.
Hagan led Funny Car with a 1,000-foot pass in 3.840-seconds at 330.15 mph in his Mopar Express Lane/Rocky Boots Dodge Charger R/T.
“It’s been a long winter,” said Hagan, who drives for DSR. “I’ve been chomping at the bit to put a mouthpiece in and put a helmet on. I’ve had a lot of frustration and I was ready to take it out on the racetrack. It’s really nice to come out here and roll out of the box and run an 0.84. It was one of those runs where you knew you had to get it in so it’s a pressure-filled situation. It needs to get down the racetrack because you need to get qualified and you have the rain coming in.”
Courtney Force and her newly sponsored Advance Auto Parts Chevy Camaro SS qualified second at 3.849/330.23. Tim Wilkerson and his revamped Levi, Ray & Shoup Ford Shelby Mustang jumped from 13th to third with his second-round run of 3.857 at 322.65.
Reigning world champ Ron Capps of DSR was ninth in his NAPA Auto Parts Charger at 4.158-seconds and 325.14 mph.
In Pro Stock, Anderson powered his Summit Racing Equipment Chevy Camaro to a quarter-mile pass in 6.557-seconds at 210.60 mph during the second session to take the provisional pole.
“We had a great racetrack today,” Anderson said. “It’s fun to drive a car when the weather is like this. You throw everything you got at the race car and the racetrack holds it. So that’s what we did today and Saturday will be a different day. Sunday will be completely different; we’ll probably see sun on Sunday. So it will be a whole different deal going through the weekend but today, we’re king.”
Jason Line, Anderson’s KB Racing teammate and the three-time/reigning world champion, followed with a 6.563-second pass at 210.93 mph in his Summit Racing Camaro during the second session. Two-time world champion Erica Enders, who is back in an Elite Motorsports Camaro after running a Dodge Dart in 2016, ran a 6.567 at 210.60.
Qualifying is scheduled to continue Saturday with the first session set for 12:30 p.m. and second session at 3:30 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday.
FOX Sports 1 will televise one hour of live qualifying Saturday at 1 p.m. (EST). FS1 also will carry one hour of qualifying at 2 a.m. (EST) Sunday, while the FOX network will televise three hours of live eliminations starting at 4 p.m. (EST).
Friday’s qualifying results after the first two of four rounds of time trials for the 57th annual Circle K NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, first of 24 events in the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Qualifying will continue Saturday for Sunday’s final eliminations:
Top Fuel _ 1. Doug Kalitta, 3.697-seconds, 325.69 mph; 2. Brittany Force, 3.706, 322.42; 3. Tony Schumacher, 3.729, 325.06; 4. Troy Coughlin Jr., 3.730, 322.81; 5. Antron Brown, 3.732, 323.27; 6. Terry McMillen, 3.824, 322.88; 7. Scott Palmer, 3.853, 321.50; 8. Troy Buff, 3.913, 309.98; 9. Clay Millican, 6.129, 100.05; 10. Steven Chrisman, 6.585, 112.67; 11. Steve Torrence, 6.796, 91.62; 12. Leah Pritchett, 8.835, 67.47; 13. Shawn Reed, 10.061, 45.19; 14. Steve Faria, 11.049, 68.68.
Not Qualified _ 15. Terry Haddock, broke.
Funny Car _ 1. Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 3.840, 330.15; 2. Courtney Force, Chevy Camaro, 3.849, 330.23; 3. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 3.857, 322.65; 4. Alexis DeJoria, Toyota Camry, 3.932, 304.94; 5. J.R. Todd, Camry, 3.936, 329.42; 6. Del Worsham, Camry, 4.043, 298.80; 7. Bob Bode, Charger, 4.142, 285.29; 8. Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.153, 295.14; 9. Ron Capps, Charger, 4.158, 325.14; 10. John Force, Camaro, 4.247, 313.00; 11. Jim Campbell, Charger, 4.451, 219.79; 12. Phil Burkart Jr., Charger, 4.470, 280.66; 13. Jeff Diehl, Toyota Solara, 4.564, 187.94; 14. Robert Hight, Camaro, 4.699, 232.67; 15. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.723, 183.97; 16. Gary Densham, Mustang, 5.823, 129.49.
Not Qualified _ 17. Jeff Arend, 7.702, 89.45; 18. Cruz Pedregon, 13.651, 67.16.
Pro Stock _ 1. Greg Anderson, Chevy Camaro, 6.557, 210.60; 2. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.563, 210.93; 3. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.567, 210.60; 4. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.570, 210.60; 5. Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.573, 210.50; 6. Jeg Coughlin Jr., Camaro, 6.577, 210.21; 7. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.579, 210.80; 8. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.591, 210.08; 9. Deric Kramer, Dodge Dart, 6.594, 209.46; 10. Tanner Gray, Camaro, 6.595, 211.10; 11. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.604, 209.82; 12. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.617, 210.21; 13. Allen Johnson, Dart, 6.636, 207.94; 14. Kenny Delco, Camaro, 6.660, 208.62; 15. Alan Prusiensky, Dart, 6.663, 207.88; 16. Val Smeland, Camaro, 7.511, 153.07.
Not Qualified _ 17. Tom Huggins, 13.474, 69.20.