Kalitta, Grubnic Set for NHRA Top Fuel Showdown in Sonoma
It's déjà vu all over again for Top Fuel racers Doug Kalitta and David Grubnic at the 25th annual NHRA Sonoma Nationals.
The Kalitta Motorsports teammates qualified Nos. 1 and 2 in Sonoma, with Kalitta (Technicoat) taking top honors with a pass of 3.785 seconds (321.65 mph). Grubnic (Optima Batteries) was right behind at 3.790 (318.02).
Kalitta and Grubnic also qualified Nos. 1 and 2 in Sonoma in 2004 as teammates, eventually meeting in the finals with Kalitta taking the victory. He holds the track record for Top Fuel wins with five.
"That's cool to see Dave and me at the front of the pack," said Kalitta, who has not won since Denver, 2010. "There's a lot of tough competition and a lot of good times out there. We'll both have to be on the top of our game to get the win tomorrow. I'm excited for the whole team."
“I’m very thrilled about this,” Grubnic said. “It’s been a while since we’ve been dominant, even our Funny Car teams are doing well here. We’ve been in a lot of semis but we need to finish the deal.”
It was another near-perfect day in Sonoma, with two track records being set. On Friday, all eight track records were broken in one of the quickest and fastest days in Sonoma for NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing.
Spencer Massey (FRAM) re-set the speed record for Top Fuel at 327.43 mph on Saturday, while Allen Johnson (Team Mopar) re-broke the elapsed-time record for Pro Stock at 6.517.
"I have to say this is one of the nicest facilities in the country and the crowds both today and Friday were huge," Kalitta said. "To get that many people to come out here is a great thing and I hope we've put on a good show for them."
Cruz Pedregon (Snap-on Tools) maintained the top spot for Funny Car with a run of 4.028 (307.30). Jack Beckman (Valvoline NextGen) was second at 4.042 (311.70) and Ron Capps third (NAPA) at 4.046 (317.57). Capps is looking for his third consecutive win in Sonoma. Pedregon, meanwhile, posted Funny Car wins in Sonoma in 1996 and 1998
"I feel good about our chances tomorrow," Pedregon said. "This was the 49th time we've qualified No. 1 and that's cool and it's also a great accomplishment to have our fourth No. 1 effort of the year. What I'm not proud of is our won-loss record on race day. I hope we get that turned around (tomorrow)."
Johnson continued his hot ways in Pro Stock with his fifth consecutive top-qualifying effort (eighth overall of season). Johnson, who won last week in Denver and tops the Pro Stock standings, re-broke the track record for elapsed time on Saturday and is hoping to pick up his second win on the Western Swing, which concludes next week in Denver.
Johnson was followed in qualifying by Mike Edwards (Penhall/Interstate) at 6.527 (211.530) and Erica Enders (GK Motorsports) at 6.531 (211.23).
Eddie Krawiec (Harley-Davidson) grabbed his third top-qualifying spot of the season in Pro Stock Motorcycle at 6.801 (198.35). Both the elapsed time and speed are track records. He was followed by teammate Andrew Hines (6.848, 195.28) and Hector Arana Jr. (Lucas Oil) at 6.850, 191.73.
Harley-Davidson is seeking its 10th consecutive event victory dating back to 2011.
"Sonoma is one of the races we really look forward to," said Krawiec, who tops the Pro Stock Motorcycle point standings. "If you look at the motorcycle parking here there are a ton of bikes and Harley-Davidson gets a ton of support from the fans here. I hope we can put on a good show for them on Sunday."
Action returns on Sunday at the 25th NHRA Sonoma Nationals with final eliminations beginning at 11 a.m. In addition to great drag racing, race fans will be treated to the 3rd annual Nostalgia Get-Together, the Blast on the Grass and more. Tickets are available at the gate; visit racesonoma.com/nhra for event information.