Sonoma: Sunday final eliminations report

Anderson Becomes Fifth NHRA Driver To Sweep Western Swing Kalitta, Wilkerson and Savoie also claim victories at FRAM Autolite Nationals SONOMA, Calif. -- Greg Anderson became the fifth driver to sweep the NHRA Western Swing Sunday ...

Sonoma: Sunday final eliminations report

Anderson Becomes Fifth NHRA Driver To Sweep Western Swing
Kalitta, Wilkerson and Savoie also claim victories at FRAM Autolite Nationals

SONOMA, Calif. -- Greg Anderson became the fifth driver to sweep the NHRA Western Swing Sunday at the FRAM Autolite Nationals at Infineon Raceway. In the process he tied the Pro Stock single season win record with his 12th victory of the year.

Doug Kalitta, Tim Wilkerson and Angelle Savoie also were winners at the $1.5 million race, the 15th of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.

Anderson raced to his 28th career victory and first at the Northern California drag strip by clocking a 6.728 second run at 205.51 mph in his Summit Racing Equipment Pontiac Grand Am to defeat David Connolly, who posted a 6.758 at 204.98 in his Bullet Motorsports Chevy Cavalier. With the victory, Anderson increased his series lead 568 points.

"I had no idea I was the first Pro Stock guy to sweep the Western Swing," said Anderson of the grueling trio of races in consecutive weeks where teams face unique challenges at tracks in Denver, Seattle and Sonoma. Past winners include Joe Amato (Top Fuel 1991); John Force (Funny Car 1994); Cory McClenathan (Top Fuel 1997); and Larry Dixon (Top Fuel 2003).

"To put your name next to Joe Amato and John Force and those other guys that have done it is something special," Anderson continued. "It's another feather in this team's cap. I guess the fact these three races are so different is the reason we haven't seen it happen before in Pro Stock."

With eight races to go this season, Anderson now has his sights set on Force's overall single-season record of 13 victories, set in 1996.

"Thirteen wins is the next big hurdle to clear," Anderson said. "We want that record because it's the next thing to do. The other big records are years away. Warren (Johnson) has six championships and 90-something wins. Force has 12 championships and a hundred-plus wins. Bob Glidden has 10 championships. Even if I race like I have been we're a long way off from all of that. We're aiming to win half of the remaining races. That's probably a good number to shoot for and it should be attainable. Of course, we could get totally lost tomorrow and I could fall off this big wave we've been riding, but for now I'm enjoying the ride."

Kalitta drove to his 18th career Top Fuel victory and fourth at Infineon by posting a 4.678 at 315.05 in his Mac Tools dragster to defeat teammate David Grubnic, whose Red Line Oil dragster lost traction at the start and recorded a 9.752 at 86.37.

"I love this place," said Kalitta, who defeated Steve Chrisman, Doug Herbert and points leader Tony Schumacher to advance to the final. "It's definitely one of my favorite stops on the tour and that hasn't changed this year. I got my first win here in 1998 and then we won it three times in a row. I wouldn't mind if we ran all the races here. Really, any of these good tracks are good for this team. I guess our tune-up just wants a place where we can pound on the track."

With the win, Kalitta cut Schumacher's series points lead to 66.

Wilkerson earned his second victory of the season when Force fouled at the start in his Castrol GTX Start Up Ford Mustang. With the 12-time champ out on a false start, Wilkerson cruised to his fifth career victory with a 5.088 at 282.72 in his Levi, Ray and Shoup Chevy Monte Carlo.

It was a rare miscue on the weekend for Force, the event's No. 1 qualifier. It was only the second time in Force's 175 career final rounds that he turned on the red light in the money round.

"Force definitely had the car to beat this weekend," said Wilkerson, who outran Jerry Toliver, Whit Bazemore and Tony Pedregon to advance to the final round. "We're thankful he had a hiccup in the final. We had run right beside him all weekend so we knew how fast he was, but we were always right there behind him so maybe he was thinking about us a little bit."

While many of the standing room only fans may have been surprised to see Wilkerson take the win today -- his first at Infineon -- his opponents certainly were not.

"That's the underdog effect I guess," Wilkerson said of the adulation he gets from his peers. "We're just a single-car team fighting all these big teams and I think everyone out there appreciates that. They look at me and see a guy who works on his own car and I think they think that's cool. It sure makes it special for me."

Force increased his points lead to 146 over Whit Bazemore as he nears a record 13th Funny Car championship.

Savoie raced to her second Pro Stock Bike victory of the season and the 33rd of her career by defeating teammate Antron Brown in the final. In a battle of U.S. Army Suzukis, Savoie took the automatic win when Brown suffered a red-light start. She joined Wilkerson and Anderson as first time Infineon winners.

"Now we've won at every track except Brainerd and it's next so maybe we can put that one away in two weeks," Savoie said.

To advance to the final, Savoie used consistently quick 7.0-second runs to beat Connie Cohen, GT Tonglet and Craig Treble.

"We had a fabulous weekend here," she added. "I love it when we're No. 1 because my record shows that when I'm the No. 1 qualifier I usually go on and win the race. We had our best E.T. ever so we're running good."

Andrew Hines, who lost in the semifinals on his Screamin' Eagle Harley-Davidson, increased his lead to 169 over second place rider Shawn Gann.

The NHRA POWERade Series continues with the 23rd annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, Aug. 12-15, at Brainerd (Minn.) International Raceway.


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