BRISTOL, Tenn. – On a milestone weekend for Doug Kalitta, the Top Fuel veteran claimed his 50th No. 1 qualifier on Saturday during his 500th career NHRA start at the 19th annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway.
John Force also qualified No. 1 in Funny Car at the 11th of 24 events during the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season.
Kalitta powered to his first No. 1 qualifier of the season after his run of 3.755-seconds at 324.67 mph in his Mac Toold dragster from Friday held up.
Saturday marked Kalitta’s first No. 1 qualifier since 2017 and his first career top qualifying effort at Bristol Dragway.
Kalitta, who has 45 career wins, will meet Cameron Ferre in the first round of eliminations on Sunday as he seeks his second win of 2019 and fourth in Thunder Valley.
“It would be perfect timing to get a win, that’s for sure,” Kalitta said. “With it being Father’s Day weekend, I’ve got my son here with me this weekend, so it would be a great thing. We’re going to work our tail off to try to make it happen, that’s for sure. My car has been pretty consistent, so we’ll see how it goes.
“It’s been a lot of fun and we want to keep it going.”
Leah Pritchett qualified second with a 3.757 at 323.04, while points leader and defending champion Steve Torrence – who is seeking his sixth-straight Top Fuel win – will start eliminations from third after his 3.768 at 326.00.
In Funny Car, Force, who is looking for his 150th career victory, earned his third No. 1 qualifier of the year and 158th in his standout career thanks to his pass of 3.911 at 326.95 from Friday in his PEAK Chevrolet Camaro SS.
The 16-time world champion is after his fourth win at Bristol Dragway and Force will try to become the first Funny Car No. 1 qualifier to ever win at the track.
“I’m in the game, feeling good and we’ll go out there tomorrow and see if we can win some rounds,” said Force, who has two career No. 1 qualifiers in Thunder Valley. “You can win from anywhere in this class. I go out and do the best I can, that’s all I can do. You’ve got to be good to win and my car is coming around. It’s fast and I’m starting to come around, too.”
Shawn Langdon will start from the second spot thanks to a career-best 3.944 at 324.51, while Bob Tasca qualified third with a 3.959 at 318.54.
In the E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by J&A Service, Todd Tutterow picked up his first No. 1 qualifier in the class, a week after he crashed in Topeka.
Tutterow, who is second in points and has one win this season, raced to a class-best time of 5.774 at 248.66 in his supercharged Al-Anabi Performance Camaro.
“I know we would we make a good run, but it’s just confidence in the car and confidence in my crew,” Tutterow said. “As many changes as we made, I thought it turned out pretty good.”