Home Doug Kalitta, John Force claim No. 1 qualifying spots for Sunday’s Thunder Valley Nationals

Doug Kalitta, John Force claim No. 1 qualifying spots for Sunday’s Thunder Valley Nationals

Rod Mullins

Thunder Valley NationalsIt has been a memorable Father’s Day weekend so far for Doug Kalitta as the Top Fuel veteran driver claimed his 50th No. 1 qualifying position on Saturday during his 500th career NHRA start at the 19th annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway.

Kalitta earned his first No. 1 of the season and first at Bristol Dragway after a Friday run of 3.755-seconds at 324.67 mph. It is Kalitta’s first No. 1 qualifier since 2017. Kalitta, who has 45 career wins, will meet Cameron Ferre in the first round of eliminations on Sunday as he seeks his second win of 2019 and fourth at Thunder Valley.

“It would be perfect timing to get a win, that’s for sure,” Kalitta said. “With it being Father’s Day weekend, I’ve got my son here with me this weekend, so it would be a great thing. We’re going to work our tail off to try to make it happen, that’s for sure. My car has been pretty consistent, so we’ll see how it goes. It’s been a lot of fun and we want to keep it going.”

Leah Pritchett qualified second with a 3.757 at 323.04 and will face Lex Joon in the opening round, while points leader and defending champion Steve Torrence, who will try for his sixth consecutive victory tomorrow from the third spot, will race journeyman Pat Dakin in the first round.

John Force also showed why he is far from being done in NHRA as Force qualified No. 1 in Funny Car division and earned his third No. 1 qualifier of 2019 and 158th in his standout career thanks to his pass of 3.911 at 326.95 from Friday in his PEAK Chevrolet Camaro SS.

“I’m still in the game, feeling good and we’ll go out there tomorrow and see if we can win some rounds,” said Force of his second No. 1 qualifying position at Thunder Valley. “You can win from anywhere in this class. I go out and do the best I can, that’s all I can do. You’ve got to be good to win and my car is coming around. It’s fast and I’m starting to come around, too.”

The 16-time world champion is after a milestone 150th career victory and a fourth win at Bristol Dragway. He will try to become the first Funny Car driver to ever win at Bristol from the No. 1 position.

Shawn Langdon will start from the second spot thanks to his 3.944 at 324.51 and will face Californian Jeff Diehl in round one, and Bob Tasca qualified third with a 3.959 at 318.54 and will meet Jim Campbell in the opening round.

Six-time Bristol Funny Car winner Ron Capps qualified seventh and will try to win his third race in a row at Bristol when he faces off with rising star Blake Alexander.

In the E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by J&A Service, Todd Tutterow picked up his first career No. 1 qualifier in the class, a week after he crashed in Topeka. Tutterow, who is second in points and has one win in 2019, raced to a class-best time of 5.774 at 248.66 in his supercharged Al-Anabi Performance Camaro.

“I knew we would we make a good run, but it’s just confidence in the car and confidence in my crew,” Tutterow said. “As many changes as we made, I thought it turned out pretty good.”

John DeFlorian Jr. qualified No. 1 in Mountain Motor Pro Stock with a performance of 6.345 at 221.82 and will race Jon Konigshofer in the first round. Jay Turner claimed the No. 1 qualifying position in Top Fuel Harley and will meet Tracy Kile in round one.

Eliminations at the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals begin at noon ET on Sunday.

By Rod Mullins | Augusta Free Press

Rod Mullins

Rod Mullins

Rod Mullins covers NASCAR for AFP, and co-hosts the mid-week “Street Knowledge” focusing on NASCAR with AFP editor Chris Graham. A graduate of UVA-Wise, Rod began his career in journalism as a reporter for The Cumberland Times, later became the program director/news director/on-air morning show host for WNVA in Norton, Va., and in the early 1990s served as the sports information director at UVA-Wise and was the radio “Voice of the Highland Cavaliers” for football and basketball for seven seasons. In 1995, Rod transitioned to public education, where he has worked as a high school English, literature, and creative writing teacher and now serves as a school program coordinator in addition to serving as a mentor for the robotics team.