By Lee Elder
SONOMA, Calif. (July 27, 2018) – Some tennis players like specific courts, even though they all measure the same. Some bowlers prefer a particular bowling establishment, for whatever reason.
NHRA Top Fuel drag racing star Doug Kalitta likes racing at the drag strip here. The facility has had its share of names, but through the changes, Kalitta has been successful in the California wine country. Kalitta, driver of the Mac Tools-sponsored rail fielded by Connie Kalitta, has won here five times. He’d like to win again in this weekend’s NHRA Toyota Sonoma Nationals at Sonoma Raceway.
“Sonoma is one of my favorite tracks on tour,” Kalitta said. “It’s where I got my first win and has been a place that I and Kalitta Motorsports as a whole have earned so many wins.”
Kalitta was eighth after Friday’s first two rounds of Top Fuel qualifying with a 3.790-second pass. You could understand if Kalitta came to Sonoma with optimism. He advanced to the final round of the most recent NHRA event (last week in Colorado) and now gets a chance to build some more momentum at a track where he has been tough to beat.
As the teams started Friday’s qualifying sessions, Kalitta sat fifth in the NHRA’s Countdown to the Championship Top Fuel points. Since winning the 2018 opener, Kalitta has been to the finals in three other races and he has a total of 21 round wins.
“My goal is to get this Mac Tools Toyota dragster into the Winners Circle this weekend,” Kalitta said.
Don’t bet against him. Kalitta’s most recent win came the last time the NHRA’s traveling circus raced in California, at the Winternationals in Pomona at the start of the season. In 472 previous Top Fuel starts, Kalitta has 44 victories and 644 career round wins. He has qualified first 49 times.
Mark Twain once said, “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.” Fans at Sonoma experienced that same thing Friday. The ambient temperatures dipped into the 50s at the end of Q2. The cool temperatures left the nitro teams with an opportunity to post some very fast passes.
Clay Millican qualified first in Top Fuel at 3.700 seconds with two rounds of time trials to go. Courtney Force was best in Funny Car at 3.910 seconds.
Millican, who was among the last Top Fuel drivers to make a pass Friday, said, “I hope it’s 90 tomorrow.” Saturday’s sessions will be earlier in the day, making it difficult to surpass the quick times from Friday evening.
Courtney Force led the Funny Car class recording a 3.91 second pass Friday night at 326.16MPH. “I knew that i had to be perfect on that run, said Courtney. I tried to keep the car straight as an arrow, when I hit the parachutes and felt the negative G’s hit hard I knew we had a great pass.”
Greg Anderson led in Pro Stock with a run of 6.515 seconds and Eddie Krawiec topped the Pro Stock Motorcycle riders at 6.871 seconds.
NOTES: There were 15 Top Fuel entrants for the Sonoma race, 18 in Funny Car, 16 in Pro Stock and 20 in Pro Stock Motorcycle. … Hector Arana Jr. recorded another 200+ mph run on his Pro Stock Motorcycle in Q1, registering at 200.11 mph. He is still the only PSM rider to surpass 200. … Alex Laughlin’s Pro Stock car was pushed backwards off the starting line in Q2 after a mechanical gremlin struck. … Richard Townsend drove his Funny Car into the sandbox at the end of the racing surface in Q2 when his parachutes failed to deploy. Townsend bounced his car off the retaining wall a few feet before the end of the asphalt and then nudged his way into the sand. Because he passed the centerline too early in the shutdown area, Townsend was fined five points. He did not appear to be injured in the incident. … … Tommy Johnson Jr. had one of the best quotes of the weekend when he said, after turning a 3.988-second pass in Q2, “After last year when an axle broke and the wheel came off, I told the guys that if we came back with all four tires on it, it would be a success.”