CONCORD, N.C. (September 17, 2017) Fortunate to have great weather for the third day in a row, the NHRA Carolina Nationals did not disappoint. As the first event in a six race playoff, many big names struggled to get their footing when it mattered most. While others shocked the crowd by putting on an even better show than what was expected.
It was an all Kalitta Motorsports final with Doug Kalitta and Richie Crampton squaring off for the Wally. This is just Crampton’s second race back after replacing Troy Coughlin Jr. at the U.S. Nationals two weeks ago. Crampton bested Scott Palmer, Steve Torrence, and Brittany Force on his way to the final. Kalitta qualified on pole and his path to the final round included defeating Chris Karamesines, Tony Schumacher, and Clay Millican, before eventually driving around his teammate, Richie Crampton. Kalitta laid down his second quickest run of the day with a 3.775 second lap at 318.39 mph. Crampton gave it his all with a 3.876 second effort at 306.40 but was clearly no match for Kalitta. “Getting the first win here at such a great facility is huge for me and my family,” Kalitta said. “We’re proud to be able to bring this win home to the [Mac Tools] distributors.” This is Doug Kallita’s 43rd career victory.
John Force Racing’s Courtney Force and Robert Hight duked it out in the final round. Courtney Force came into raceday the number one seed and on her way to the final round she took down Bob Gilbertson, John Force (yes, her father), and Alexis Dejoria. Meanwhile, Hight fought his way into the final round by way of Matt Hagan, Tommy Johnson Jr., and J.R. Todd. Hight had the advantage off of the starting line against Force and managed to hang on for the victory. Hight went 3.943 seconds at 328.86 mph against Force’s 3.980 second lap at 315.19 mph.
Already thinking about the road ahead in the playoffs, Hight said, “We’ve been collecting a lot of those little bonus points along the way and I think that’s what your’e going to have to do in this countdown because it’s almost impossible to have six perfect races and if you have one bad one and you collect a lot of those qualifying points, that can make up for a bad race.”
This is Hight’s 40th career win.
Tanner Gray and Greg Anderson, both of whom reside not too far from Z Max Dragway in North Carolina, put on a great show for the fans in the final round. Gray and Anderson qualified No. 1 and No. 2, respectively. Prior to the final, Gray outdrove Val Smeland, Erica Enders, and Jason Line. Anderson beat Alan Prusiensky, Drew Skillman, and Bo Butner before getting his shot at rookie Gray. Anderson’s 6.638 second effort at 207.82 mph wasn’t enough to get around Gray’s 6.614 second lap at 208.07 mph. “This season’s gone better than I think anyone expected. The guys have such a good handle on the car and they’re making my job so much easier,” said Gray. This Gray’s fifth carer win and he’ll leave this event with the points lead.
Pro Stock Motorcycle
Andrew Hines and Eddie Krawiec decided to make the Pro Stock Motorcycle final the third teammate final round battle of the day. Hines and Krawiec, who race for Vance & Hines Screamin’ Eagle Harley-Davidson, qualified first and second, respectively. Hines made his way to the final round by defeating Charlie Sullivan, Chip Ellis, and Hector Arana Jr. While Krawiec raced past Mark Paquette, Matt Smith, and Jerry Savoie before taking on his teammate. Krawiec had a two-thousandths advantage at the start and pulled away for the win. Krawiec made a solid 6.850 second pass at 196.87 mph while Hine’s went 6.911 seconds at 195.11 mph. Krawiec said, “This is a huge race. If you can minimize making mistakes as you go through the countdown and you start off really strong like this I think it’ll increase your chances by quite a bit.” This is Krawiec’s 40th career Wally and he is now the points leader in Pro Stock Motorcycle.