Kalitta Leads Old Bridge Top Fuel Field

Doug Kalitta leads the NHRA Top Fuel division into the first race of the NHRA Countdown this weekend in North Carolina. (Harry Cella Photo)
Doug Kalitta topped the charts in the NHRA Top Fuel division Saturday at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park. (Harry Cella Photo)
Doug Kalitta topped the charts in the NHRA Top Fuel division Saturday at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park. (Harry Cella Photo)

ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. – Doug Kalitta was quickest in Top Fuel Saturday and earned the No. 1 qualifying position at the Toyota NHRA Summernationals at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park.

Cruz Pedregon (Funny Car), Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also will lead their categories into Sunday’s 11 a.m. eliminations as No. 1 qualifiers at the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event.

Kalitta led the field on Friday and improved his performance with a 3.748-second pass at 327.66 mph in his Mac Tools dragster on Saturday. Kalitta’s car has been consistently quick all weekend .

“So far, the thing has been running strong, going consistently down the track all of our qualifying runs,” said Kalitta. “I’m just real proud of those guys and looking forward to tomorrow. Conditions should be good tomorrow. It’s a little cooler than it normally is here, so I think that’s helping everybody with the performance. It should be a fun day here tomorrow, I’m thinking.”

The run gave Kalitta the 40th No. 1 qualifying position of his career and fourth of the season. Kalitta will open eliminations against No. 16 qualifier Clay Millican as he goes for his second win of the season.

“At the end of last year, we were running really good, and fortunately, they’re getting a handle on it,” said Kalitta, the Top Fuel points leader. “It’s real exciting. Englishtown, it’s a love-hate relationship with this place. I’d love to get the win and give the trophy to Connie. That would be kind of cool. I’m just looking forward to tomorrow and doing good and seeing how it goes.”

Richie Crampton was second in his GEICO/Lucas Oil dragster with a 3.750 at 326.95. It is the highest starting position for the Top Fuel rookie, who will have a first round matchup with New York racer Dom Lagana.

In Funny Car, Pedregon powered his Snap-on Tools Toyota Camry to a track record performance of 3.959 seconds at 310.48 mph to lead the field on Friday. The run, the quickest ever in the 10,000-horsepower category, will be certified as an NHRA national record if he can post a time of 3.999 seconds or quicker on Sunday.

“We had such monster early runs yesterday,” Pedregon said. “It’s like a tiger by the tail, a snake by the tail. It was pretty aggressive.”

Pedregon’s Saturday qualifying efforts were not as successful as his Friday pass. He overpowered the track on the first run and his second run was undone by a parts malfunction when a bracket on the team’s starter prevented him from attempting the final qualifying pass.

“It was just a good-old-fashioned breakage,” said Pedregon. “It’s probably one of those things that will never happen again in my career, and it will probably not happen to a lot of people in their careers. It had freak accident written all over it.”