event: 10th Annual NHRA Carolina Nationals
when: September 15-17, 2017
where: zMAX Dragway, Concord, NC, USA

Krawiec Takes Command at zMAX

photos by Tim Hailey, story by Hailey with a lotta help from the NHRA and team reports

 

Eddie Krawiec

Eddie Krawiec took home the Pro Stock Motorcycle victory with a 6.850 at 196.87 on his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson at zMAX Dragway at the 10th annual NHRA Carolina Nationals. Krawiec beat his teammate Andrew Hines in the final rand took over the points lead with his 40th career victory and fourth of this season, including his second in a row.

The last two NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle races show the V&H H-D team rising to the occasion of the NHRA’s Countdown to One championship playoff series to deliver their best performances of the year. V&H went back to their old chassis with the new Street Rod bodywork on it for Indy’s U.S. Nationals and the old/new combinations were quick and consistent right off the trailer. Eddie Krawiec qualified number one and won the race known as “The Big Go.” Two weeks later at zMAX, for the second event in a row, Krawiec and Hines came off the trailer with identical ETs.

This time Hines qualified number one and seemed like a guy with all the answers, just waiting for it all to play out on raceday. But as eliminations wore on, Hines lost lane choice to Krawiec for the final and Eddie again won the race. “We didn’t really slow down, Eddie just finally started making straight passes,” said Hines.

“It wasn’t until Sunday that I felt I was making good runs down the track,” agreed Krawiec. “For us, a really crucial thing is keeping the bike going straight and keeping it upright. I finally got my chassis right where it needed to be. Fortunately for me, I did a really good job of doing that and hitting the tree.

“This is probably one of my most proud races as a driver. To go out there and be .012, .012, .020 and then .023 was my worst light in the final. I hang my hat on that. I’m not always the best leaver, but I try and be as consistent as I can be.”

Like at Indy, LE Tonglet was not at the top of the order the way he's accustomed to. "Dad's a little concerned," LE said about his dad Gary—a former racer and formerly LE's tuner. "But the way I see it, Tim (WAR tuner Kulungian) is good here, struggles at Maple Grove, but kicks ass at Gateway, Dallas, Vegas and Pomona." LE was the runaway points leader before they were reset in the Countdown.

Like at Indy, season dominator LE Tonglet was not at the top of the order the way he's accustomed to, qualifying sixth and losing a close one to teammate Jerry Savoie in round two.

Jerry Savoie (near lane) redlighting against Krawiec in the semi

Defending class champ Savoie then redlit against Krawiec in a semifinal race that was separated by only .001 of elapsed time.

Hector Arana Jr (near lane) and Andrew Hines in the other semi

Hines beat Hector Arana Jr. in another great race between the two in the other semi. Arana and his team have been quietly doing a great job ever since switching back from their EBR to the Buell in midstream at Indy.

Tuners Gary Stoffer and Greg Underdahl had rider Scotty Pollacheck on the quickest carbureted Suzuki at zMAX

What might Matt Smith have done had he not missed two qualifying rounds?

Other notable performances were Scotty Pollacheck leading the carbureted Suzuki brigade, Matt Smith racing well on his Polaris despite missing two qualifying rounds, Chip Ellis leading the field to 60 feet all weekend on what was the final appearance of the Junior Pippin team for 2017, PSM newcomer (but veteran racer) Kelly Clontz solidly qualifying in the field, Mark Paquette putting his new Victory in despite chasing bad sensors all Friday, and Charlie Sullivan making the trip from California pay by bumping his way in on his final attempt.

Kelly Clontz!

Charlie Sullivan bumped his way in to the field on his final attempt.

Ron "Rat" Tornow suffered the brunt of Sullivan's Q4 bump. Tornow's MSR rental failed to shift in the final round

But will anyone bump Krawiec off the points lead after two straight wins and racing with a trailer full of momentum? “This is a huge race for me because I love this drag strip and this facility, and to come out of the first Countdown race with a win is huge for me and my team,” Krawiec said. “Getting a win here is awesome, because it increases your chances to win a championship quite a bit so I’m really excited about this. Most of the time, the person that comes out of here the leader usually wins the championship. Hopefully, that stays true.”

WAR tuner Tim Kulungian's smirk says it all about how he thinks his motorcycles have performed the last two races

Joey Gladstone qualified 11th and redlit by -.006 to LE Tonglet in round 1. He's flanked by Chris Clontz (left) and Joe Riccardi

Angie Smith wasn't smiling when she tossed away what would have been a winning E1 6.91 with an .029 redlight

Melissa (qualified 14th, lost E1 to Jerry Savoie) and James Surber

Liberty Racing's Cory Reed looked a bit lonely at zMAX without his team

Chip Ellis' dad Dale (left) and Junior Pippin motor man Brad Moore

Coby and Chaz Adams flanking wrenchman Miguel "Mikey" Suarez

NHDRO stud Mike Mullaney will miss the Indy Finals to be at Gateway for NHRA

WAR's Rick Elmore seems a bit dubious of his tire pressure reading

MSR's Amy learning her way around a camera

Jonathan Gray

Rickie Smith tuned Jonathan Gray to his first career Pro Mod victory on Sunday. Gray powered to a 5.809-second pass at 250.46 mph in his IDG Chevrolet Camaro to earn the victory over Steve Jackson in the final round. Gray defeated Steve Matusek, points leader Mike Castellana and Chuck Little on his way to the finals.

"I can't thank everybody enough for the opportunity and it's just been awesome,” Gray said. “Hopefully we can get another one before the end of the year."

Gray entered the event eighth in the Pro Mod standings and finished the day in fifth after becoming the ninth driver in the class to win an event this year. Jackson entered Charlotte in sixth in the Pro Mod standings before earning the runner-up finish that moved him to fourth. Castellana maintained his lead over Troy Coughlin despite a quarterfinal exit.

Winning tuner Rickie Smith surrounded by his ladies

Doug Kalitta (far lane) and teammate Richie Crampton n the Top Fuel final

Points leader Doug Kalitta took down teammate Richie Crampton in the Top Fuel final with a 3.775-second pass at 318.39 mph in his Mac Tools dragster to earn his first victory of the season. Kalitta now has 43 career victories and only two tracks on the NHRA circuit at which he hasn’t won throughout his career. “Getting this win gives us great momentum with only five races to go, but with the team I have with me I’m full of confidence,” Kalitta said. “It’s huge for me to get my first win at this great facility, because we have been coming here for a lot of years and I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out.”

Kalitta earned the top slot in qualifying and defeated Chris Karamesines, Tony Schumacher and Clay Millican before reaching his third final round of the season. Crampton qualified seventh and reached the final round in only his second event of the season, taking down Scott Palmer, Steve Torrence and Brittany Force on the day. 

Robert Hight (near lane) and teammate Courtney Force in the Funny Car final

Robert Hight earned his third Funny Car victory of the season and first since Seattle with a 3.943 pass at 328.86 in his Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro to defeat teammate Courtney Force in her Advance Auto Parts Chevy Camaro in the finals. Hight now has 40 career victories and has taken the lead in the Funny Car points standings. “We’ve had a great race car over the past 15 races in either hot or cold weather, getting low E.T. in several events throughout the year,” Hight said. “It’s almost impossible to have six great races in a row during the Countdown, but we had everything figured out today which we needed with the tough competition we faced today.”

Hight qualified sixth and took down Matt Hagan, Tommy Johnson J.R. and J.R. Todd on his way to his sixth final round of 2017. Force was the top qualifier and defeated Bob Gilbertson, John Force and Alexis Dejoria on the way to her fourth final round of the season.

Tanner Gray won the only pro final not waged between teammates

In Pro Stock, Tanner Gray continued his impressive rookie campaign with a 6.614 at 208.07 in his Gray Motorsports Valvoline Chevrolet Camaro during the final round to earn his fifth victory of his season. He took down four-time world champion Greg Anderson to emerge victorious at his local track and take command of the Pro Stock points lead. “If you would have told me I would be the points leader when I left the first race of the Countdown I would have said you were crazy,” Gray said. “I have a great team who has helped me throughout the season and we are really happy with where we are at.”

Gray qualified first and got past Val Smeland, Erica Enders and Jason Line before making it to his sixth final round of the year. Anderson has now reached eight final rounds this season, defeating Alan Prusiensky, Drew Skillman and Bo Butner after qualifying second.

Other final results from the 10th annual NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMax Dragway. The race is the 19th of 24 in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series: 

Top Alcohol Dragster -- Shawn Cowie, 5.295, 272.39 def. Corey Michalek, 5.399, 267.27. 
Top Alcohol Funny Car -- Andy Bohl, Chevy Camaro, 5.556, 268.60 def. John Lombardo Jr., Camaro, 5.786, 267.91. 
Competition Eliminator -- Frank Aragona, Roadster, 7.388, 171.31 def. David Rampy, Roadster, 7.354, 160.94. 
Super Stock -- Nicholas Chiles, Chevy Cobalt, 9.082, 149.85 def. Byron Worner, Chevy Camaro, 9.808, 135.43. 
Stock Eliminator -- Kenneth Stott, Chevy Camaro, 11.673, 105.92 def. Mickey Whaley, Camaro, 10.688, 122.41. 
Super Comp -- John Labbous Jr, Dragster, 8.989, 145.41 def. Amanda Boicesco, Dragster, 7.974, 127.96. 
Super Gas -- Dean Mathauser, Pontiac GTO, 9.895, 153.04 def. John Labbous Jr, Chevy Corvette, 9.882, 161.04. 
Top Dragster presented by RacingRVs.com -- Todd Ewing, Dragster, 7.226, 177.74 def. Barry Brown, Dragster, 7.666, 164.87. 
Top Sportsman presented by RacingRVs.com -- Jerry Albert, Chevy Camaro, 6.890, 199.82 def. Todd Ewing, Camaro, 6.799, 198.96. 

The 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season continues with the Dodge NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway Sept. 21-24. The J&A Service Pro Mod Series continues Sept. 29 at the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals in Madison, IL.

Saturday: Hines Cool on Top at zMAX

Andrew Hines seems like a guy with all the answers this weekend, just waiting for it all to play out on raceday. He's held # qualifier since the opening salvo and has never really been challenged, his 6.825 holding a .009 advantage over teammate Eddie Krawiec.

Andrew Hines finished atop the Pro Stock Motorcycle qualifying order for the 10th annual NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMAX Dragway with a 6.825 at 196.50 on his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson in his first pass on Friday. He locked down his 39th career No. 1 qualifier and first of this season. “With conditions being ideal this weekend, we have been looking at today as our own tune-up for tomorrow,” Hines said. “I feel strong about the tune-up our team has put together, and now we have to make sure we do it again tomorrow when it really counts.”

Teammate Eddie Krawiec sealed up the second position with a 6.836 at 195.00 in his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson and will take on Mark Paquette first on Sunday.

Reigning world champion Jerry Savoie rounds out the top three after his 6.838 at 196.10, and will go up against Melissa Surber when eliminations get underway.

Jerry Savoie and wife Vonnie waiting for Q4. Jerry's qualified third with a 6.838, well in the hunt.

The story on the paddle that Vonnie is holding is a gift from White Alligator Racing crewman Jeremy Deroche. Jeremy's dad Mark—who Jerry tells me is fighting cancer—was out fishing when he found this pirogue (that's a flat bottomed canoe to all you non-Louisianians) paddle. Mark took it home, painted it yellow and blue, added WAR and the state of Louisiana, and presented it to the team. Jeremy uses it to line Jerry up but he might find another use for the paddle if WAR's #1 rider isn't sharp at the tree on raceday.

Hector Arana Jr's been quietly doing a great job all weekend. He had a fabulous "race" with Hines in Q4.

Chip Ellis has been leading the field to 60 feet pretty much all weekend, but his Junior Pippin EBR has been soft on the big end. "I swear I think there's a governor on this thing that won't let it go over 193 mph," Chip said on Friday night. He did run a click over 194 in Q3 before having a transmission problem in Q4. Chip's 9th with a 6.878.

Ellis and daughter McKenzie

Kelly Clontz and Angie Smith—safely in the field and stoked about it! Angie's 6.878 tied Chip, but she beat him on MPH so is qualified 8th. Keyy's 13th with a 6.957. There's an alternate caption for this photo in the Facebook group.

Clontz is Joey Gladstone's teammate this weekend. Gladstone's 6.917 is 1/100th behind Karen Stoffer in the battle among carbureted Suzukis. Both lag far behind Scotty Pollacheck's 6.85

Mark Paquette spent Friday chasing bad sensors, finally a got a lap to tune with in Q3, then got lined up crooked in Q4. He's qualified 15th with a 7.004.

Mike Castellana

Mike Castellana locked down the second Pro Mod qualifying position before earning a first round win against Khalid Al Balooshi, extending his day longer than No. 1 qualifier Shane Molinari, who dropped his initial match against Pete Farber. Points leader Castellana powered to a 6.000-second pass at 246.84 mph in his Al-Anabi Racing Chevrolet Camaro to earn the victory and extend his lead over second place Troy Coughlin, who dropped his first-round matchup. Castellana is set to go up against Jonathan Gray in the quarterfinals.

"We're just happy to get by first round,” Castellana said. “We'll take it one round at a time. Obviously [Troy] went out which is good for us. We'll just keep plugging away. Hopefully we'll build up a bigger lead and go from there."

Danny Rowe will face off with Mike Janis in the quarterfinals, Pete Farber takes on Steve Jackson and Jim Whiteley opposes Chuck Little when eliminations continue on Sunday.

Castellana is currently leading the Pro Mod points standings and has two victories on the year.

Courtney Force claimed the top spot after a run of 3.891 seconds at 330.07 mph in her Advance Auto Parts Chevy Camaro during her second pass Friday. She clinched her category-best seventh No. 1 qualifier on the year as she continues to chase her first victory this season. Force will face off with Bob Gilbertson in round one of eliminations on Sunday.

“I’m really proud of my team for giving me a great race car, it’s been a lot of fun to drive this car and get these No. 1 qualifiers,” Force said. “We know we have to bring that same success into Sunday, and I am just looking forward to tomorrow as we try to end up in the winner’s circle.”

J.R. Todd qualified second with a 3.898 at 329.18 in his DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car, and is set to face-off with Jeff Diehl in the first round. Tommy Johnson Jr. rounds out the top three after a 3.901 at 325.06 as he prepares for Dave Richards on Sunday.

Doug Kalitta started out his Countdown to the Championship run with a 3.723 pass at 329.50 in his Mac Tools dragster on Friday. He now has two No. 1 qualifiers on the season as he chases his first victory of the 2017 season. Kalitta also earned the No. 1 qualifying position at last year’s NHRA Carolina Nationals before finishing as the event’s runner-up. Kalitta faces Chris Karamesines in the first round of eliminations on Sunday.

“This is one track I have yet to win at, so I would definitely love to get a win here at one of the nicest facilities we get to compete at,” Kalitta said. “I think we have a good set-up for tomorrow with the conditions we are going to get, but I’m very fortunate to have the team I’ve got and I’m looking forward to getting out there tomorrow.”

Points leader Steve Torrence qualified second after a 3.724 at 327.51 in his Capco Contractors dragster, and he will take on Terry Haddock in the first elimination round. Leah Pritchett sits at third in qualifying with a 3.725 at 327.98 as she gets ready to take on Wayne Newby in round one of eliminations.

In Pro Stock, Tanner Gray held onto the top spot after driving to a 6.559 at 210.50 in his Gray Motorsports Valvoline Chevy Camaro during his first pass on Friday. He now has four No. 1 qualifiers in his rookie season as he looks to improve upon his category-best four victories on the year.

“Today was all about setting up for tomorrow’s run since we will have similar track conditions, but we feel pretty good about where we’re at,” Gray said. “A lot of my opponents have experienced the Countdown before, so I’m definitely a little nervous but I’m also confident in my car and driving so I feel like there’s no reason we won’t win tomorrow.”

Four-time world champion Greg Anderson is in second with a 6.567 at 210.73 in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro, as he prepares for Alan Prusiensky on Sunday. Points leaders Bo Butner secured the third qualifying slot after a 6.573 at 210.77 before he faces off with Shane Tucker in eliminations

Pro Mod round 1 eliminations -- Steve Jackson, Chevy Camaro, 5.833, 247.84 def. Bob Rahaim, Camaro, 9.260, 118.35; Jonathan Gray, Camaro, 5.869, 248.71 def. Steve Matusek, Camaro, 5.860, 248.25; Pete Farber, Dodge Daytona, 5.878, 247.75 def. Shane Molinari, Pontiac Firebird, 5.829, 251.72; Mike Castellana, Camaro, 6.000, 246.84 def. Khalid alBalooshi, Camaro, 9.493, 88.54; Jim Whiteley, Camaro, 5.902, 247.38 def. Sidnei Frigo, Chevy Corvette, Foul - Centerline; Mike Janis, Camaro, 5.879, 247.66 def. Troy Coughlin, Corvette, 5.873, 253.80; Chuck Little, Corvette, 5.897, 244.74 def. Rickie Smith, Camaro, 5.840, 249.53; Danny Rowe, Corvette, 5.888, 247.88 def. Eric Latino, Camaro, 6.225, 220.98;

Pro Stock Motorcycle -- 1. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.825, 196.76 vs. 16. Charles Sullivan, Buell, 7.112, 186.28; 2. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.836, 195.00 vs. 15. Mark Paquette, Victory, 7.004, 189.31; 3. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.838, 196.10 vs. 14. Melissa Surber, Buell, 6.972, 191.29; 4. Hector Arana Jr, Buell, 6.840, 196.47 vs. 13. Kelly Clontz, Suzuki, 6.957, 194.83; 5. Scotty Pollacheck, Suzuki, 6.850, 195.00 vs. 12. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.946, 193.49; 6. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.865, 195.73 vs. 11. Joey Gladstone, Suzuki, 6.917, 193.68; 7. Matt Smith, Victory, 6.872, 195.03 vs. 10. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.907, 193.52; 8. Angie Smith, Buell, 6.878, 194.21 vs. 9. Chip Ellis, Victory, 6.878, 194.07. Did Not Qualify: 17. Ron 'Rat' Tornow, 7.130, 186.33; 18. Lance Bonham, 7.183, 186.20.

Top Fuel -- 1. Doug Kalitta, 3.723 seconds, 329.50 mph vs. 16. Chris Karamesines, 4.734, 162.33; 2. Steve Torrence, 3.724, 327.51 vs. 15. Terry Haddock, 4.709, 166.39; 3. Leah Pritchett, 3.725, 327.98 vs. 14. Wayne Newby, 3.826, 320.43; 4. Antron Brown, 3.728, 331.85 vs. 13. Terry McMillen, 3.825, 309.98; 5. Clay Millican, 3.747, 322.96 vs. 12. Dom Lagana, 3.809, 317.87; 6. Brittany Force, 3.749, 329.18 vs. 11. Pat Dakin, 3.798, 299.73; 7. Richie Crampton, 3.749, 284.33 vs. 10. Scott Palmer, 3.795, 323.89; 8. Shawn Langdon, 3.778, 320.97 vs. 9. Tony Schumacher, 3.788, 325.30. 

Funny Car -- 1. Courtney Force, Chevy Camaro, 3.891, 330.07 vs. 16. Bob Gilbertson, Chevy Monte Carlo, 4.448, 215.58; 2. J.R. Todd, Toyota Camry, 3.898, 329.18 vs. 15. Jeff Diehl, Toyota Solara, 4.247, 299.46; 3. Tommy Johnson Jr., Dodge Charger, 3.901, 325.06 vs. 14. Dave Richards, Ford Mustang, 4.067, 298.67; 4. Jack Beckman, Charger, 3.906, 330.47 vs. 13. Jim Campbell, Charger, 4.066, 309.42; 5. Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 3.910, 324.51 vs. 12. Jonnie Lindberg, Camry, 3.981, 320.05; 6. Robert Hight, Camaro, 3.911, 327.27 vs. 11. Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.981, 324.12; 7. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 3.962, 324.44 vs. 10. Ron Capps, Charger, 3.980, 323.04; 8. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 3.962, 318.02 vs. 9. John Force, Camaro, 3.967, 326.95. 

Pro Stock -- 1. Tanner Gray, Chevy Camaro, 6.559, 210.50 vs. 16. Val Smeland, Camaro, 6.828, 202.15; 2. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.567, 210.73 vs. 15. Alan Prusiensky, Dodge Dart, 6.708, 206.76; 3. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.573, 210.77 vs. 14. Shane Tucker, Camaro, 6.668, 207.37; 4. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.578, 210.60 vs. 13. Larry Morgan, Camaro, 6.662, 208.14; 5. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.582, 209.43 vs. 12. Kenny Delco, Camaro, 6.636, 209.46; 6. Jeg Coughlin, Camaro, 6.586, 209.98 vs. 11. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.629, 209.17; 7. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.586, 209.69 vs. 10. Allen Johnson, Dart, 6.603, 209.33; 8. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.600, 209.36 vs. 9. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.602, 209.75. 

Friday: Hines Leads After 2 at zMAX

Andrew Hines boils it and aims for the spot that his brother Matt's picked out for him

Andrew Hines finished atop the Pro Stock Motorcycle qualifying order with a 6.825 at 196.50 in his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson during his first pass on Saturday at the NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMAX Dragway. He is aiming for his first No. 1 qualifier of this season and the 39th in his career. “This is actually what we needed for the Harley team, at least in terms of the Friday results we wanted,” Hines said. “We’ve been working on these bikes night and day for the past few months so to get such strong runs out of them is a huge relief.”

For the second event in a row, Hines and teammate Eddie Krawiec came off the trailer with identical ETs. Strangely, Hines' provisional number one 6.825 matches what he and Krawiec both ran off the trailer at Indy. "You've been paying attention," Andrew said to me.

"Some of the conditions today were similar to Indy, some were different." Andrew must have been talking about raceday at Indy, which was much warmer than the other days. Today was waaaay different than the cold, windy, Friday evening at Indy that he and Eddie ran their .825s.

Is White Alligator crewman Jeremy Derouche getting ready to slap #2 qualifier Jerry Savoie with that oar, or paddle, or whatever it is?

Jerry Savoie currently is in second after his 6.838 run at 196.10 on his White Alligator Racing Suzuki. Hector Arana Jr. rounds out the top three slots after his 6.840 at 196.07 as he chases his first victory of 2017.

Matt Smith rolled out of the burnout box for Q2 with a little puke tube oil dripping from his fender. The starter shut him down, but Matt knew that it wasn't a leak and was infuriated.

Chris Clontz wears a huge smile after his wife Kelly ran 6.95 for 12th in the order. Her bike was bought from the Stoffer/Underdahl trailer, and Greg Underdahl (with arms crossed) seems to be thinking "Why did we sell that bike?"

Arana pit hostess and superchef Ade Casanola

Pro Fuel pilot Janette Thornley and famed shutterbug Kenneth Charlton

Shane Molinari

Shane Molinari powered to the J&A Service Pro Mod qualifying lead. Molinari ran a 5.778-second pass at 256.55 mph in the second qualifying session in his S & T Truck Repair Inc. ’68 Firebird. "We'll make another pass tomorrow and roll the dice. Hopefully we'll get down the track and go some rounds. We just have to go rounds - that's the goal."

Mike Castellana qualified second with a 5.781 at 252.10, and Eric Latino qualified third with a 5.792 at 252.14.

Castellana is currently leading the Pro Mod points standings and has two victories on the year.

Doug Kalitta in a photo from Norwalk

Doug Kalitta, currently No. 4 in the standings, started out his Countdown to the Championship run with a 3.723-second pass at 329.50 mph in his Mac Tools dragster. He is aiming for his second No. 1 qualifier of the season as he chases his first victory of the 2017 season. Kalitta earned the No. 1 qualifying position at last year’s NHRA Carolina Nationals before securing a runner-up finish at the event.

“It’s definitely a good day to have a run like this, especially on the first day of the Countdown,” Kalitta said. “The track conditions were excellent, we are really happy with what we pulled off here today and we hope that leads to a strong finish to the season.”

Points leader Steve Torrence sits second after a 3.724 pass at 327.51 in his Capco Contractors dragster, while Leah Pritchett is in the third slot after a 3.725 at 327.98 putting the top three qualifiers within .002 seconds of each other at the end of day one.

Courtney Force in a photo from Atlanta

Courtney Force leads Funny Car. After smoking the tires with a pass too strong in the first session, Force took her Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car to the top of the charts in the second—a pass of 3.891 seconds at 330.07 mph. She currently leads the category with seven No. 1 qualifying positions as she pursues her first Wally of the year.

“I wasn’t too worried that our first pass wasn’t clean, but I have an amazing team behind me and we definitely went for it on our second run,” Force said. “I’m really excited for tomorrow and happy to be in the top spot, it’s very important for us to be at the top because every point counts in the Countdown.

“It’s important to start the Countdown to the Championship off this way, raking in some of those points,” said Force, who entered the weekend sixth in points. “It’s just a few, but every point counts. This is also the home track for (primary sponsor) Advance Auto Parts (based in Raleigh). I was there yesterday at their headquarters meeting with CEO Tom Greco and their employees, and had the chance to pump them up for the race this weekend. It feels great to show them what we can do."

Indianapolis winner J.R. Todd is currently in second after a 3.898 at 329.18 in his DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car, while Tommy Johnson Jr. rounds out the top three after his 3.901 at 325.06.

Force’s teammates, Robert Hight and John Force, put together sub-four second runs in hot conditions. Hight, in the Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro SS, was No. 6, his best pass of 3.911 seconds at 302.75 mph coming in the second round. John Force, in the PEAK Motor Oil & Coolant Chevrolet Camaro SS, was No. 9, completing a pass of 3.976 seconds at 314.31 mph in the opening round.

Tanner Gray currently holds the top spot after driving to a 6.559 at 210.50 in his Gray Motorsports Valvoline Chevy Camaro during his first Pro Stock pass of the day. He is seeking his fourth No. 1 qualifier of the season as he looks to improve upon his category-best four victories on the season.

“You have to come into the Countdown with a different mindset, because every single point matters,” Gray said. “I’m really happy that we had low E.T. for both sessions and now we are inching closer to that first-place spot in the standings.”

Four-time Pro Stock world champion Greg Anderson earned the second spot in preliminary qualifying with a 6.567 run at 210.73 in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro, while points leader Bo Butner is third after his 6.573 at 210.77.

Friday's results after the first two of four rounds of qualifying for the 10th annual NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMax Dragway, 19th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Qualifying will continue Saturday for Sunday's final eliminations.

Pro Stock Motorcycle -- 1. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.825, 196.50; 2. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.838, 196.10; 3. Hector Arana Jr, Buell, 6.840, 196.07; 4. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.854, 194.44; 5. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.866, 195.45; 6. Matt Smith, Victory, 6.873, 195.03; 7. Chip Ellis, Victory, 6.878, 193.74; 8. Scotty Pollacheck, Suzuki, 6.895, 193.35; 9. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.907, 193.52; 10. Joey Gladstone, Suzuki, 6.917, 193.18; 11. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.946, 193.49; 12. Kelly Clontz, Suzuki, 6.957, 194.83; 13. Angie Smith, Buell, 6.963, 191.97; 14. Melissa Surber, Buell, 6.983, 190.86; 15. Mark Paquette, Victory, 7.065, 188.62; 16. Ron 'Rat' Tornow, Buell, 7.130, 186.33. Not Qualified: 17. Lance Bonham, 7.183, 184.09; 18. Charles Sullivan, 7.372, 178.73.

Pro Modified -- 1. Shane Molinari, Pontiac Firebird, 5.778, 256.55; 2. Mike Castellana, Chevy Camaro, 5.781, 252.10; 3. Eric Latino, Camaro, 5.792, 252.14; 4. Mike Janis, Camaro, 5.815, 248.48; 5. Rickie Smith, Camaro, 5.830, 249.49; 6. Steve Matusek, Camaro, 5.839, 249.72; 7. Steve Jackson, Camaro, 5.842, 247.88; 8. Bob Rahaim, Camaro, 5.846, 249.07; 9. Jonathan Gray, Camaro, 5.848, 248.57; 10. Sidnei Frigo, Chevy Corvette, 5.851, 249.39; 11. Shannon Jenkins, Ford Mustang, 5.867, 247.79; 12. Dan Stevenson, Camaro, 5.876, 252.80; 13. Jim Whiteley, Camaro, 5.878, 248.66; 14. Michael Biehle, Mustang, 5.884, 254.28; 15. Chip King, Dodge Charger, 5.890, 244.16; 16. Pete Farber, Dodge Daytona, 5.896, 246.80. Not Qualified: 17. Khalid alBalooshi, 5.912, 248.57; 18. Doug Winters, 6.231, 237.38; 19. Harry Hruska, 6.268, 243.19; 20. Danny Rowe, 7.369, 133.53; 21. Clint Satterfield, 7.526, 209.33; 22. Chuck Little, 7.772, 116.58; 23. Troy Coughlin, 8.972, 104.93.

Top Fuel -- 1. Doug Kalitta, 3.723 seconds, 329.50 mph; 2. Steve Torrence, 3.724, 327.51; 3. Leah Pritchett, 3.725, 327.98; 4. Antron Brown, 3.728, 331.85; 5. Brittany Force, 3.749, 329.18; 6. Richie Crampton, 3.749, 284.33; 7. Clay Millican, 3.761, 322.96; 8. Scott Palmer, 3.795, 323.89; 9. Pat Dakin, 3.798, 299.73; 10. Dom Lagana, 3.809, 317.87; 11. Wayne Newby, 3.826, 311.13; 12. Terry McMillen, 3.860, 305.22; 13. Shawn Langdon, 3.861, 314.75; 14. Tony Schumacher, 4.481, 175.30; 15. Chris Karamesines, 6.517, 94.65. 

Funny Car -- 1. Courtney Force, Chevy Camaro, 3.891, 330.07; 2. J.R. Todd, Toyota Camry, 3.898, 329.18; 3. Tommy Johnson Jr., Dodge Charger, 3.901, 325.06; 4. Jack Beckman, Charger, 3.906, 330.47; 5. Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 3.910, 324.51; 6. Robert Hight, Camaro, 3.911, 302.75; 7. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 3.962, 314.02; 8. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 3.976, 317.79; 9. John Force, Camaro, 3.976, 314.31; 10. Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.981, 324.12; 11. Ron Capps, Charger, 4.012, 257.87; 12. Jim Campbell, Charger, 4.066, 309.42; 13. Dave Richards, Mustang, 4.067, 298.67; 14.
Jonnie Lindberg, Camry, 4.763, 166.56; 15. Bob Gilbertson, Chevy Monte Carlo, 5.240, 151.41. 

Pro Stock -- 1. Tanner Gray, Chevy Camaro, 6.559, 210.50; 2. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.567, 210.73; 3. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.573, 210.77; 4. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.578, 210.18; 5. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.582, 209.43; 6. Jeg Coughlin, Camaro, 6.586, 209.98; 7. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.586, 209.69; 8. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.602, 209.75; 9. Allen Johnson, Dodge Dart, 6.603, 209.33; 10. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.609, 209.36; 11. Kenny Delco, Camaro, 6.636, 209.46; 12. Larry Morgan, Camaro, 6.662, 208.14; 13. Shane Tucker, Camaro, 6.676, 206.57; 14. Val Smeland, Camaro, 6.828, 202.15; 15. Alan Prusiensky, Dart, 6.980, 203.58; 16. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 15.198, 56.49. 

 

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