Norwalk: Kalitta, Hagan, Enders-Stevens, Arana, Jr. tops

Matt Hagan
Matt Hagan
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NHRA Funny Car points leader Matt Hagan scored his third pole of the season with a record-breaking run in Saturday’s final qualifying sessions for Sunday’s 51st annual Summit Racing Equipment Nationals at Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio.

Doug Kalitta was the top qualifier in Top Fuel with a record-setting effort of his own, while Erica Enders-Stevens picked up her second straight no. 1 qualifier in the Pro Stock division. Hector Arana, Jr. topped the Pro Stock Motorcycle ladder for his second pole of the season.

Hagan held onto the top spot from Friday’s qualifying session where he topped the track ET and speed records, only to come back as the final qualifier of the day on Saturday and reset the track records yet again with a pass of 3.973 seconds at 322.96 mph to collect his 20th-career no. 1 qualifier.

Hagan’s record-setting pass was broke the previous mark of 4.00 seconds set by Del Worsham and 322.04 mph set by John Force, both during last year’s event.

"It's been a great weekend so far, but all that really matters is what happens tomorrow when we have to turn on four win lights," said Hagan. “And it will be like a whole different race because it will be hotter and we have raced in the afternoon here yet.

"But I've been saying all year that (crew chief) Dickie (Venables) and our team are the best, and I wouldn't trade them for anything."

[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]Cruz Pedregon made things interesting in the final round as he rallied with a time of 3.991 seconds at 316.75 mph to jump from fourth to second over Robert Hight, who had moved up from ninth running 4.003, 322.04. Del Worsham held fourth with a 4.005, 321.42 followed by Tommy Johnson, Jr., who went 4.010, 314.75 on his final pass of the day.

John Bojec took the final spot in the field over Paul Lee and will face Hagan in the opening round on Sunday.

In Top Fuel, Doug Kalitta fought his way back to the top of the field during his last pass down the quarter-mile, clocking in with a low ET of 3.731 at 327.82 to shatter the previous track ET record of 3.745 set last year by Shawn Langdon.

Kalitta had held the lead after Friday’s opening round but fell to fifth to start Saturday’s sessions.

In the final round on Saturday, the entire top five changed hands as Kalitta jumped back into the top spot, barely edging Tony Schumacher by one one-thousandths of a second for his first no. 1 qualifier of the year and 43rd of his career.

“I knew the guys had my car loaded for bear out there and I was just hoping it was going to stick," Kalitta said. “It was great conditions and right now it doesn’t get much better. The track was good. We held on and I can’t say enough about my guys, they’ve been working their tails off with these night sessions. We’re definitely happy to be on top here today."

Schumacher took second with a run of 3.732 at 326.87 mph. Antron Brown (3.739, 321.58) was third, followed by Larry Dixon (3.741, 329.50) and Spencer Massey (3.741, 325.85).

Chris Karamesines took the bump spot and will draw a first-round matchup versus Kalitta on Sunday.

Matt Hagan
Erica Ender-Stevens
Rhonda McCole/Auto Imagery

Defending Pro Stock winner Erica Enders-Stevens earned her fifth pole of the season with a last round comeback that knocked Jonathan Gray off the top spot, running a 6.532 at 211.43 to jump from seventh to the top of the ladder and deny Gray his first-career top qualifier.

It was the second straight no. 1 qualifier for Enders-Stevens, 17th of her career and second in a row at Norwalk, where she will be looking for her second straight victory.

“I know what my guys are capable of, and I know I have a really great race car underneath me, and Norwalk has been really good to us in the past," said Enders-Stevens, who will face Alan Prusiensky in the opening round on Sunday. “We always enjoy coming here."

Jonathan Gray was second, running 6.542 at 211.03 mph. The rest of the top five are Chris McGaha (6.543, 211.39), Larry Morgan (6.549, 211.86) and Vincent Nobile (6.551, 211.49).

Hector Arana Jr.
Hector Arana Jr.

In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Hector Arana, Jr. held onto the no. 1 position he had held since Friday’s session as no one was able to eclipse his time of 6.868 seconds at 195.50 mph. Arana, Jr. earned his second pole of the season and 18th of his career. He’ll be looking for his first Norwalk victory when he lines up against Angie Smith in the opening round of eliminations on Sunday.

“It’s awesome to be out here racing on this big holiday weekend and we had the perfect paint scheme for it with our red, white and blue Lucas Oil bike," Arana Jr. said. “We have a lot of good history at this track. I had my first No. 1 here and my dad won this race. Hopefully we can carry that good mojo on to four win lights tomorrow."

Chip Ellis (6.880, 196.30), Jerry Savoie (6.917, 193.96), Eddie Krawiec (6.924, 193.68) and Matt Smith (6.928, 192.41) made up the rest of the top five qualifiers.

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