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2014 Circle K NHRA Winternationals: Kalitta, Force, Nobile are top qualifiers

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Doug Kalitta ran a track record 3.713 (328.86 mph) to earn the No. 1 qualifier in the Top Fuel category for Sunday’s Circle K NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona in California. John Force (Funny Car), who set a new national record time on Friday, and Vincent Nobile (Pro Stock) also earned No. 1s at the season opener at Pomona.

Kalitta will face Sidnei Frigo in the first round of eliminations on Sunday after narrowly beating defending race winner and defending Top Fuel champ Shawn Langdon, who qualified No. 2 with a 3.715-second run (328.70 mph). Antron Brown (3.731 at 326.00 mph), Bob Vandergriff (3.743 at 328.14 mph) and Spencer Massey (3.768 at 324.51 mph) round out the top five in Top Fuel qualifying.

Force set a new national record time in Funny Car on Friday with his 3.966-second run at 324.12 mph in the second session, after running a 3.983 in the first session; if the time holds through the weekend, Force will open his title defense with a 20-point bonus.

“Jimmy Prock (crew chief) has his stuff together,” said Force. “I never thought it would run 96. That impressed me. I told ’em, check the clocks. When we saw Robert (Hight, teammate) run that 99, Jimmy knew it was there.”

John Force Racing driver Robert Hight sits second after four rounds of qualifying with a 3.996 at 319.67 mph, followed by Alexis deJoria (3.997 at 318.32 mph), Cruz Pedregon (4.001 at 311.49 mph) and Ron Capps (4.014 at 304.67 mph). Capps had a spectacular explosion at the end of his second run on Friday, destroying the body of his NAPA Funny Car as well as the nose of his Don Schumacher Racing teammate Jack Beckman’s car, who was in the other lane and hit debris from Capps’ ride.

Nobile, the defending race winner at Pomona, set the pace in Pro Stock with a 6.510 at 212.73 mph; he’ll face Shane Tucker in the first round. Allen Johnson (6.512 at 212.96 mph) qualified No. 2, followed by Jason Line (6.514 at 212.63 mph), V. Gaines (6.515 at 212.83 mph) and Erica Enders-Stevens (6.516 at 212.53 mph).

Eliminations for the Circle K NHRA Winternationals begin on Sunday at 11 a.m. PT. Keep up with the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series at www.nhra.com.

Quotes in this piece provided by the NHRA.

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