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Doug Kalitta earns 50th pole ahead in 500th race in Bristol

Veteran racer Doug Kalitta is chasing second win of season at NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals
15 Jun 2019
Jacob Sundstrom, NHRA National Dragster Associate Editor
Race coverage
Doug Kalitta

Doug Kalitta held on to the No. 1 position at the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals to earn the 50th pole of his Top Fuel career. The Mac Tools Top Fuel driver is competing in the 500th race of his career and is chasing his second win of 2019. He won the season opener, the Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals, in Pomona. 

"It would be perfect timing for sure and with father's day tomorrow and having my son here this weekend that would be incredible," said Kalitta. "My car has been really consistent and it's going to be a little hotter tomorrow than it was today, so I really think it should play right into our hands tomorrow."

The final qualifying session featured a bevvy of 3.80s, none better than the 3.801 run by Mike Salinas at 323.43-mph. The Alan Johnson-tuned machine will start race day in the No. 5 position with a matchup against Scott Palmer for the second time in three races. 

Kalitta, for his part, ran a 3.842 in the final qualifying session after not getting off the starting line in the third qualifying session. He gets a shot at rookie runner Cameron Ferre in the first session of eliminations.  

"It's always important to go out there and do your best, everyone is really hungry out there right now because it's the middle of the season and everyone is trying to get that win," he said.

Steve Torrence was not far behind with a 3.805 at 320.28. That was something of a get healthy run for the Capco Contractors team that had struggled to get down the tricky Bristol Dragway track for most of the weekend. The team still enters race day qualified No. 3 and will attempt to win its sixth race in a row, matching the mark it set during the 2018 Countdown to the Championship.

Brittany Force also made a solid pass on behalf of her Advance Auto Parts Top Fuel squad. The David Grubnic-tuned dragster went 1,000-feet in 3.834-seconds, and she will start Sunday from the No. 7 position. She gets a shot at Dom Lagana, who qualified No. 10 with a 3.811. 

Terry McMillen did not improve on his 3.795 but did make a run in the 3.80s to continue his progression after enduring a tough stretch of the season. He is qualified in the quick half of the field and will race Richie Crampton in a critical Countdown to the Championship matchup.

Race day begins with Top Fuel eliminations at noon Eastern. You can catch eliminations live on NHRA.tv or tune in to FS1 at 2 p.m. for all the action.