Kalitta, Hight and Enders take provisional No. 1 spots at NHRA Arizona Nationals

Kalitta, Hight and Enders take provisional No. 1 spots at NHRA Arizona Nationals

NHRA

Kalitta, Hight and Enders take provisional No. 1 spots at NHRA Arizona Nationals

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Top Fuel veteran Doug Kalitta is in line to record his first No. 1 qualifier in nearly three years, powering to the provisional No. 1 position on Friday at the NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park.

Robert Hight (Funny Car) and Erica Enders (Pro Stock) are also the provisional No. 1 qualifiers at the second of 22 races during the 2022 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season.

Kalitta, who has 49 career Top Fuel victories, went to the top with a stellar career-best pass of 3.657s at 329.58 mph. Should it hold, Kalitta will pick up his first No. 1 qualifier since 2019 and 51st in his career. It was also a major step in the right direction after Kalitta Motorsports added legendary tuner Alan Johnson and Brian Husen in the off-season, following a 2021 campaign where Kalitta finished a disappointing 10th and didn’t record a win.

“It left hard, and I definitely tell it was hauling harder than any run I had ever been on,” Kalitta said. “I’m just super proud of my guys. Everybody’s been busting their tail on this thing. With (crew chief) Alan Johnson and Brian, and what they’ve brought to the team, we couldn’t be more excited. I knew it was a good run. The conditions are going to be cool this weekend, but we’re pleased, and we’ll see what the rest of the weekend brings. We love running here and it’s always been one of my favorite tracks.”

Tripp Tatum was the only other driver to reach the 3.60s, going 3.684 at 310.55 to go to the second position. Leah Pruett is third after she went 3.703 at 328.22.

Hight stayed red-hot in Funny Car, rocketing to No. 1 with a spectacular pass of 3.838 at 332.18 in his Chevrolet Camaro SS. It puts Hight in position to pick up his 72nd career No. 1 qualifier and gives him the quickest run in Funny Car for any driver since the start of the 2020 season. Last season’s struggles also seem like a distant memory for Hight, who won in Pomona last week and looks just as impressive to start the weekend in Phoenix.

“Just about every run we’ve made down the track this whole year has been in the 3.80s, so that’s pretty impressive, but we were in really good conditions,” Hight said. “You know when you come to Phoenix and the temperatures are like this, you better hold on. (Crew chiefs) Jimmy Prock and Chris Cunningham did a really good job getting it just right. In the final round, it ran a 3.861 in Pomona and we had just been here two weeks ago in testing, and we knew were going to have to step it up. Jimmy spent a lot of time looking over everything and I thought to myself, ‘It’s either going to be really quick or we’re going to screw up.’ So great job to the guys. It’s a dream come true to run a car like this.”

After struggling a week ago and qualifying 16th, John Force rebounded with a strong run on Friday in Phoenix, going 3.851 at 332.02 to qualify second through one round. Tim Wilkerson is in the third spot after he impressed with a 3.852 at 328.46.

Enders continued her torrid start in Pro Stock, vaulting to the No. 1 spot with a standout pass of 6.540 at 210.44. It comes on the heels of her season-opening win in Pomona, where she also qualified No. 1. If it stands, the four-time world champ would pick up her 25th career No. 1 qualifier. Enders also won the Phoenix race in 2020 and appears to be picking up where she last left off at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park.

“It was definitely pretty awesome. I got to run against my teammate Aaron Stanfield, and we qualified No. 1 and No. 2 in Pomona and we met each other in the final round,” Enders said. “As the sun was going down and the temperature was getting cooler, it’s always a really fun run for Pro Stock at that time of day. I feel like we can definitely make some improvements for tomorrow. I give myself a B-plus in the driving department, so I can definitely improve there. (Crew chief) Mark Ingersoll just felt like he was a little bit soft on the tune-up and the set-up of the race car, so tomorrow’s looking up but either way, to put our Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports Chevy Camaro on the pole after the first session is pretty exciting.”

Stanfield, who advanced to the final round in Pomona, posted an identical 6.540, but was slightly slower than Enders with a run of 209.82 to sit second. Reigning world champ Greg Anderson is currently in the third spot after running 6.541 at 208.59.

Qualifying continues at 1 p.m. MT on Saturday at the NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park.

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