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Published: 7/7/2013 - Updated: 9 months ago

Kalitta, Force, Johnson, Ray earn top qualifying positions

ASSOCIATED PRESS

NORWALK, Ohio — NHRA Top Fuel driver Doug Kalitta earned his fifth No. 1 qualifier of the season and 36th of his career on Saturday and will try for his first victory in 2013 today at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals.

No driver improved on Kalitta's pass of 3.767 seconds at 327.74 mph that broke the track record in both categories on Friday.

The 36th No. 1 qualifier of Kalitta's career also moved him to fifth overall in Top Fuel history.

The Ann Arbor resident is seeking his first win since 2010 and is the only driver in the top five in points in Top Fuel, Funny Car, or Pro Stock without a victory. He will meet Troy Buff in the opening round of eliminations.

"I've got a ton of confidence in my guys, and we love running here in Norwalk," said Kalitta, who considers Norwalk his home NHRA track. "We're real happy to get that No. 1 qualifier and hopefully we can finally turn it into a win."

John Force (Funny Car), Allen Johnson (Pro Stock), and Michael Ray (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also will lead their categories as the No. 1 qualifiers at the 13th of 24 NHRA Drag Racing Series events.

Force's track-record time of 4.021 at 317.72 from Friday wasn't matched during Saturday's two qualifying sessions, giving the 15-time world champion his third No. 1 of the season, second in the past three weeks, and 143rd of his career. Force, who races Blake Alexander in the first round, has also advanced to the finals at the last three events.

In Pro Stock, nobody could match Johnson's run of 6.592 at 209.75 from Friday, giving the defending world champion the No. 1 qualifying spot for the first time in 2013 and 29th time in his career.

Ray improved on his No. 1 time from Friday, going 6.912 at a track-record speed of 193.68 to take the top spot in Pro Stock Motorcycle. Ray, who is the most recent winner in the class, earned his second No. 1 qualifier in 2013 and will meet Sean Gann in the first round.



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