EPPING, N.H. – Michael Ray continued his recent hot streak in Pro Stock Motorcycle by racing to his first career No. 1 qualifying position Saturday at the Auto-Plus NHRA New England Nationals.
Doug Kalitta (Top Fuel), John Force (Funny Car), and Jeg Coughlin (Pro Stock) also were No. 1 qualifiers based on their performances from Friday and will also lead their categories into Sunday’s 11 a.m. eliminations at the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event.
Riding the momentum from a victory at the last event to feature the bikes in Englishtown, N.J. in early June, Ray powered his Sovereign Star Racing Buell to a 6.832 second run at 197.05 mph to take the top spot in the two-wheel category at New England Dragway. The New Braunfels, Texas rider will face Angie Smith in the opening round.
“There’s not a lot of people in NHRA history who have sat on the pole in the Pro Stock Motorcycle class and now I can add my name to that list,” an excited Ray said. “I have always been the underdog and I have loved that position. Now I don’t mind to be able to stick my chest out a little bit and know that we have a really fast bike and that we will have to be someone to contend with for the rest of the season.”
Ray, who defeated Hector Arana Sr. to win at legendary Raceway Park in New Jersey three weeks ago, joined forces with successful bike team owner George Bryce during the off-season and the duo has quickly produced results five events into the 16-race Pro Stock Motorcycle season.
“We’ve really been going in the right direction and to come out of the truck and be this fast and earn our first No. 1 qualifying position at this inaugural event is a true testament to the progress the team has been making,” Ray said. “I just want to enjoy riding the wave because this is a humbling sport and you can be brought down in an instant.”
Arana Sr. qualified second on his Lucas Oil Buell with a 6.838 at 195.65 and will open against Shawn Gann, while yesterday’s top qualifier, Matt Smith, dropped to third in the order and will take on defending world champ Eddie Krawiec in a titan first round race.
In Top Fuel, Kalitta scored his fourth No. 1 of the season and 35th of his career with a 3.795 at 323.97 in his Mac Tools dragster. He will face Canadian Ike Maier in the first round.
“We struggled a little bit today getting down the track,” Kalitta said. “We tried this other blower that we have on that second run, and it definitely showed some sign there that it might be OK for us. All in all, I think we should be ready for tomorrow. We would have liked to have gotten down the track on that last qualifying run, but it will be alright. We’ll just go back to what we know, and go A to B.”