Doug Kalitta (Top Fuel), Johnny Gray (Funny Car) and Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) are at the tops of their respective ladders following the final two rounds of qualifying for the NHR Arizona Nationals at Firebird International Raceway in Chandler, Arizona.
Kalitta’s fast pass of 3.733 seconds (329.02 mph) put him at the top of the Top Fuel ladder ahead of Antron Brown (3.765 seconds/318.77 mph), Tony Schumacher (3.768 seconds/325.37 mph), David Grubnic (3.783 seconds/321.27 mph) and Clay Millican (3.810 seconds/323.66 mph). Kalitta – whose team owner and uncle, Connie Kalitta, celebrates his birthday on Sunday – will face Spencer Massey in the first round of eliminations on Sunday.
“It would be awesome to win tomorrow,” Kalitta said. “He’s 75 and doing great. He’s been here for so many years and just loves it out here. It would be awesome to see if we could pull it off.”
Gray (4.034 seconds/314.46 mph) will face defending race winner Robert Hight in the first round. He’s followed on the ladder by Matt Hagan (4.062 seconds/311.20 mph), Courtney Force (4.064 seconds/315.71 mph), Cruz Pedregon (4.067 seconds/308.00 mph) and Ron Capps (4.081 seconds/308.35 mph).
“We wanted to run both (f today’s qualifying runs) real good,” said Gray. “We made just a spectacular run this morning (4.04). It was ‘stupid fast’ for the session. But we had some things go wrong with the car on the second run, and the track got better than the car. But you learn something every time you go to the starting line, and we feel really, really confident going into tomorrow. Who knows? Maybe I can get this win off of my ‘bucket list’.”
Edwards maintained the Pro Stock No. 1 spot with Friday’s track record time of 6.498 seconds (213.13 mph), while V. Gaines (6.529 seconds/212.63 mph) and defending Arizona Nationals champ Jason (6.535 seconds/213.03 mph) kept hold of second and third respectively. Greg Anderson (6.536 seconds/212.56 mph) and Allen Johnson (6.542 seconds/212.03 mph) round out the top five. Edwards will face Steve Kent in Sunday’s first round of eliminations.
“We tried some different things today, like a different engine, to see if we could improve,” said Edwards. “We’ll put it all back to the way we had it yesterday (Friday) and we should be able to run like we did earlier. The conditions were a little bit different today. The track got a little bit hotter. But I still feel like we could have run pretty close to yesterday’s times if we had the same set-up. We always run good here. I never know exactly why.”
Quotes in this piece provided by the NHRA.
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