GAINESVILLE, Fla. --
Sat, 16 Mar 2013, 19:00 PM
Kalitta, C. Pedregon, Edwards and Smith Claim No. 1 Qualifying Positions
Courtesy of NHRA Communications
Photo copyright 2013 Auto Imagery, Inc.
At Amalie Oil NHRA Gatornationals
Veteran Top Fuel driver Doug Kalitta raced to the No. 1 qualifying position Saturday at the Amalie
Oil NHRA Gatornationals.
Cruz Pedregon (Funny Car), Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also were
No. 1 qualifiers and will lead their categories into Sunday's 11 a.m. eliminations at the NHRA
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event.
Kalitta claimed his second straight top qualifying effort of the season and 33rd of his career with
a 3.779 second run at 326.32 mph in his 8,000-horsepower Mac Tools dragster. Kalitta moved around
defending world champ Antron Brown on his final qualifying attempt to claim the No. 1 spot at
Auto-Plus Raceway at Gainesville. Kalitta will face rookie Leah Pruett in the first round.
Brown, who briefly held the top spot late Saturday with a 3.787 at 324.20 in his Matco Tools
dragster, will start second and face three-time world champ Larry Dixon in the opening round.
"I was surprised when Antron went out there and ran that .78 because everybody was bunched closer
than that," Kalitta said. "Hats off to Jim (Oberhofer, crew chief) and all my guys and the decision
they made at the end to get it to run like that. It was nice and straight and planted to the middle
of the grove and I am really looking forward to tomorrow. Hopefully the conditions will be the same
as today and we won't have to mess with our tune-up much and put a string of runs together
In Funny Car, Pedregon scored his first No. 1 of the season and 51st of his career as no one was
able to better his Friday run of 4.047 at 296.05 in his Snap-on Tools Toyota Camry.
On his final qualifying attempt, Pedregon said his car sounded funny after the burnout so he shut
it down on the starting line prior to the run.
"We had some kind of mechanical problem," Pedregon said. "You just have to put it behind you.
Tomorrow is another day. You just have to shake it off. We'll put the car back where it was and
just let it rip. We're going to have to press the issue a little bit because there are a couple of
cars that can run with us. That 4.04 isn't going to buy us any round wins tomorrow. We are going to
have to take it to them."
Johnny Gray was second in his Pitch Energy Dodge Charger with a 4.071 at 313.22 and Matt Hagan was
third with a 4.084 at 308.99 in his blue and yellow Magneti Marielli Charger.
In Pro Stock, Edwards claimed his third consecutive No. 1 position of the season and 44th of his
career with his national record time of 6.473 at 214.31 in his Interstate Batteries/I Am Second
Chevy Camaro. The 2009 world champ will try to earn his first win of the season when he opens
against six-time champ Warren Johnson.
"We feel like we have a good shot at it and we're going to do our best to pull it off tomorrow,"
Edwards said. "We made a really good run this morning and we were trying to run a little better in
the afternoon. All of my guys have done a tremendous job and we've done a lot of testing. I feel
like we're going in the right direction. I can't say how happy I am with my new Camaro, it is just
phenomenal. We weren't consistent last year at all. This year we are making better decisions and
making better runs. Confidence goes a long way in this class because it is so competitive. All
things being equal, I feel really good about our chances."
Defending world champ Allen Johnson qualified second with a 6.481 at 213.64 in his Team Mopar Dodge
Avenger and four-time Gatornationals winner Jason Line will start third in his Summit Racing Chevy
Camaro with a 6.483 at 213.10.
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Smith earned his 18th No. 1 qualifying position with his Friday
performance of 6.804 at 197.28 on his Viper Motorcycle Company Buell. Hector Arana Jr. and Hector
Arana Sr. are second and third in their Lucas Oil Buells and are followed by Steve Johnson's Suzuki
and Andrew Hines' Screamin' Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson.
"You have all three makes in the top five," said Smith, who will race veteran rider Chip Ellis in
the opening round. "We'll just have to see what happens tomorrow."
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