Searching for his 50th career victory, Top Fuel veteran Doug Kalitta powered to the provisional No. 1 qualifier on Friday at the 34th annual Flav-R-Pac NHRA Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceway.
Bob Tasca III (Funny Car) and Gaige Herrera (Pro Stock Motorcycle) are also the provisional No. 1 qualifiers at the 11th of 21 races during the 2023 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season.
Kalitta put together a run of 3.753-seconds at 327.66 mph in his 11,000-horsepower Mac Tools dragster, putting him in line for his second top spot this season and 53rd in his career. The 49-time event winner will try to pick up his second win in Seattle as part of the second race in the NHRA’s three-race Western Swing and things appear on the upswing, with Kalitta advancing to the final round last weekend in Denver.
“I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished to get to 49 wins and we’d love to get to 50, but you try not to make too big a deal out of it,” said Kalitta, who last won in 2020. “But it’s certainly getting to that point with it being (nearly) three years. We’ll just keep digging and hopefully all the stars align, and we get another win. It’s a humbling sport for sure and you’ve just got to take the good with te bad and take advantage of the opportunities.”
Clay Millican, who knocked off Kalitta in the final round in Denver, is currently second after going 3.779 at 322.88 and Shawn Langdon is third with a run of 3.786 at 321.27. Points leader Justin Ashley is right behind with a pass of 3.801 at 319.45.
In Funny Car, Tasca is after his second straight No. 1 qualifier in Seattle and fifth this season after his run of 3.964 at 320.13 in his 11,000-horsepower Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Mustang. Tasca is still seeking his first career victory in Seattle, but even with new crew chiefs, he performed at a high level during qualifying. Currently sixth in points, Tasca is after his sixth win this season.
“We did so good here during qualifying last year, and we got snake bit in the (second) round, but what I was really happy about this run is that I always ask the crew chiefs, what is it going to run? And Aaron (Brooks) goes ‘Around 3.96,’ and you see John Force run (3.98), you know .96 is going to be a great run out there,” Tasca said. “So good way to start.
“Tomorrow, I think you’ll see more of the same in Q2, and then Q3 will be the throwdown run, so I certainly don’t expect this to hold for No. 1 tomorrow night, but I fully expect us to pick up in the last session. So we’ll see what we can do.”
John Force, who has nine career wins in Seattle, is second with a run of 3.982 at 322.42 and Tim Wilkerson is third after going 3.983 at 320.36. Points leader Matt Hagan, who won in Denver, is currently seventh.
In the first appearance for Pro Stock Motorcycle at Pacific Raceways, points leader Herrera made a great first impression, going to the top spot with a run of 6.767 at 198.09 Vance & Hines/Mission Foods Suzuki. Coming off his impressive victory in Denver, Herrera kept rolling in his debut in Seattle as he looks to pick up his sixth No. 1 qualifier of the year. By making the first appearance in Seattle, there’s a chance for the first official sweep of the Western Swing and Herrera can be the one to do it after winning in Denver.
“For us to come out with the win (in Denver), we were definitely in awe,” said Herrera, who scored his fourth win of the season there. ‘I’m glad to be back as the provisional No. 1 and hopefully we’re going to hold on to them tomorrow.
“The run did not feel good at all. When I left a line it went left, and then I had to correct it. It felt like in third gear it kind of went left again, so I corrected again. It gives me confidence that we can go even quicker tomorrow.”
Herrera’s teammate, Eddie Krawiec, is second with a 6.776 at 198.82. He is also seeking his 50th career win. Steve Johnson is third after going 6.809 at 195.45.
Qualifying continues at 1:45 p.m. PT on Saturday at the Flav-R-Pac NHRA Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceways.