CONCORD, N.C. — After waiting nearly three years to score his 50th career NHRA win, it only took six days for Doug Kalitta to back up his performance with a 51st victory.
In his final matchup against Mike Salinas, who became the first driver to break the 300-mph barrier at the eighth-mile during qualifying on Saturday night, Kalitta outgunned Salinas to flip the win light at zMAX Dragway.
“It was a real close race. It was good to beat him (Salinas), because he knocked us off the No. 1 spot yesterday,” Kalitta said. “We’ve just got to keep going rounds. It’s really all about everybody that’s helped me through the years.”
Kalitta recorded a 3.696-second elapsed time at 333.49 mph in his Mac Tools dragster, defeating Salinas’ 3.718-second run at 328.46 mph.
“We had to work hard to get here, it was a real long year. Sometimes you have to fail to learn and be good at what you do. We’re just hitting it at the right point,” said crew chief Alan Johnson.
En route to the finals, the Kalitta Motorsports driver eliminated Steve Torrence, Shawn Langdon and Leah Pruett.
Kalitta is now the points leader heading into the third race of the Countdown to the Championship at World Wide Technology Raceway in St. Louis, Mo., at the NHRA Midwest Nationals.
It was a throwdown in the Funny Car final, with John Force Racing’s Robert Hight facing off against Bob Tasca III.
At the finish line, it was a battle of inches, as Hight threw down a 3.932-second run at 326.95. But Tasca was just slightly better, recording a 3.933-second ET at 329.26 mph to flip the win light.
“This is my last Bruton Smith trophy. I’ve won at all his tracks now,” Tasca said with a smile, waving his Wally in the air at zMAX Dragway. On a serious note, he added, “We’ve been racing with a chip on our shoulder all year. I mean how many people would’ve thought Bob Tasca would be half a round out of first place leaving Charlotte?”
Tasca defeated Alexis DeJoria, Terry Haddock and Matt Hagan in his climb up the ladder.
He is now second in the Funny Car point standings.
When Greg Anderson earned his 100th win at the U.S. Nationals last year, he beat Dallas Glenn.
Over a year later, the two opponents were at odds once against on the starting line — this time, with Anderson chasing his 102nd victory and Glenn after his ninth career win. From the left lane, Anderson launched off the line with a .018-second reaction and pulled ahead of Glenn with his 6.554-second ET at 209.23 mph.
The five-time Pro Stock champion officially scored his first win of the season at the top end.
“If I did what I did last week again this week, I was out, I was done,” Anderson said, referring to his first-round loss last Monday at Pennsylvania’s Maple Grove Raceway. “This is huge.”
Pro Stock Motorcycle
As he has done six times before this year, Gaige Herrera pulled off another Pro Stock Motorcycle victory on Sunday afternoon.
Hector Arana Jr. red-lit on the tree, allowing Herrera to breeze his way to victory with a 6.726-second run at 201.34 mph. After a quarterfinal loss at the Pep Boys NHRA Nationals last Monday, it was a much-needed victory for the Vance & Hines rider.
“We came into the Countdown, struggled a little bit in Reading, but we bounced back as a team,” Herrera said, after defeating Jerry Savoie, Matt Smith, Chase Van Sant and Arana Jr.
Herrera also re-took the points lead with his Carolina Nationals triumph.