NHRA - National Hot Rod Association

Kalitta, J. Force, Anderson and Herrera pick up No. 1 qualifiers in Charlotte

Defending Top Fuel world champion Doug Kalitta enjoyed his second straight No. 1 qualifier, cementing the top spot on Saturday at theNHRA 4-Wide Nationals in Charlotte. John Force (Funny Car), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock), and Gaige Herrera (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also qualified No. 1.
27 Apr 2024
Posted by NHRA.com staff
Race coverage
Doug Kalitta

Defending Top Fuel world champion Doug Kalitta enjoyed his second straight No. 1 qualifier, cementing the top spot on Saturday at zMAX Dragway at the 14th annual NHRA 4-Wide Nationals in Charlotte.

John Force (Funny Car), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and Gaige Herrera (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also qualified No. 1 at the fifth of 20 races during the 2024 NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series season.

Kalitta’s run of 3.691 seconds at 337.92 mph from Friday in his 11,000-horsepower Mac Tools dragster held up through two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, handing the reigning world champion his second straight No. 1 spot and the 55th in his career. The result of taking the top position worked well in Las Vegas for Kalitta, as he claimed his first career four-wide win and he’ll look to replicate that on Sunday in Charlotte, also finishing qualifying with a strong 3.710 at 332.18.

"We kind of struggled a little bit today. We put this other blower on and just had a little bit too much power in that first run and smoked the tires, and then that last run, we got right to the finish line and kind of took care of that blower, unfortunately,” Kalitta said. “So we're going to have to start from scratch again. But now that we've got our setup that we've been running, we're going to be in good shape for tomorrow.”

Antron Brown clinched the second spot thanks to his 3.698 at 332.18, while points leader Justin Ashley’s 3.701 at 334.32, which happened during his winning run in the Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenge, sent him to the third spot.

In Funny Car, John Force stayed in the top spot thanks to Friday’s track E.T. record of 3.820 at 330.96 in his 11,000-horsepower PEAK Performance Chevrolet Camaro SS. It gives the legendary 16-time world champion his first No. 1 qualifier of the season and the 167th in his iconic career, putting him in a strong position for eliminations on Sunday. Force is aiming for his second win this season, closing out qualifying with a solid pass as well.

“I’ve got a real good Camaro and I'm learning how to drive it,” Force said. “It was a good day for my good chiefs. We tried to run it hard earlier [in the third qualifying session] and had a problem then came back and got cloud cover and ran [3.]85. Now we've got to race tomorrow, and that's a whole new baby. So we'll see what happens but I'm having fun with my teams and my sponsors.”

Bob Tasca, who won the 4-Wide Nationals in Las Vegas two weeks ago, took second with a 3.834 at 338.34, setting the track speed record and also claiming the Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenge win. Points leader Austin Prock is third with a 3.852 at 333.58.

Pro Stock’s Greg Anderson finished as the No. 1 qualifier on the strength of Friday’s run of 6.500 at 210.90 in his HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro, but Saturday certainly featured plenty of other headlines. His qualifying run in the third session – as part of the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge – was disqualified due to a technical violation after bypassing a safety device. It eliminated that pass and took Anderson out of the specialty event, as his replacement, Erica Enders, went on to win the Challenge.

But Anderson still has momentum as the No. 1 qualifier at the home track for KB Titan Racing. He’s after his second victory this season after picking up his first top spot of 2024 and the remarkable 125th in his standout career.

“I’m not sure where to start but yesterday in Q2 we had an issue with our ECU [Electronic Control Unit] where the engine wasn’t getting a spark,” Anderson said. “We had a mad thrash in the pits and in the process, one of my guys disconnected a wire that goes to the system that deploys the parachutes in the event of low air pressure. In the process, he forgot to plug that wire back in so our win in the (Mission) #2Fast2Tasty Challenge was disallowed. 
“I beat Jeg and Erica and David Cuadra, and then the bottom fell out. It was a simple mistake, but we lost the run and lost the win. Otherwise, the car ran great. It was just a crazy day but it’s over now and I’m ready for race day. Tomorrow, we’re going to make damn sure all the wires are where they should be. I’ve got a really good race car and we’re going to give it all we’ve got.”

Cristian Cuadra qualified second with a 6.507 at 210.18 and Aaron Stanfield took third thanks to a 6.508 at 209.92.

Gaige Herrera’s qualifying dominance in Pro Stock Motorcycle continued on Saturday in Charlotte, but it took until the final session when the defending world champ put together a track-record run of 6.671 at 202.70 on his RevZilla/Mission Foods/Vance & Hines Suzuki. It’s the quickest run in zMAX Dragway history and also hands Herrera his 11th straight No. 1 qualifier dating back to last season. It’s already the 16th career top spot for the young phenom, who will look to stay perfect this season on Sunday.

“Yesterday, we had a malfunction on the first run that set us back, and then we ran 6.68 on the second and that was a good run,” Herrera said. “Today, I ran a 6.70 and then that 6.67 and that’s just our team learning how to fine-tune the new fuel. There was not much left on my bike. It went straight and required very little correction. Tomorrow will be a lot of fun.”

Matt Smith’s 6.685 at 201.61 from Friday qualified him in the second spot, while LE Tonglet is third after his 6.703 at 200.77 from Friday as well.

Eliminations for the NHRA 4-Wide Nationals begin at 12 p.m. ET on Sunday at zMAX Dragway in Charlotte.