Kalita, G-Force, Enders fast Friday at the NHRA Carolina Nationals

In an effort to sweep both races in zMAX Dragway this season, legendary Funny Car driver John Force took provisional first place Friday in Charlotte in the 14th annual Betway NHRA Carolina Nationals.

Doug Caleta (Top Fuel) and Erica Enders (Pro Stock) are also provisional No. 1 qualifiers in the second out of six races in the countdown to the championship during the 2022 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season.

Force, who has won the quad on the track for the past two years, missed a track record in the second race of qualifying, going 3.854 seconds at 330.47 mph in the peak Chevrolet Camaro SS. And if it holds, it will be the second qualifier for the 16-time world champion this year and 165th in his career. The Force has forged an impressive cadence at a state-of-the-art facility in recent years and is trying to make a move in the points standings as well. He currently sits fourth in points and is looking to make a big boost this weekend.

“It’s a great path to run numbers like this, but there’s a bunch of them behind me that can do the same, and we’ll have conditions like these tomorrow,” Force said. “We have a good team and it is coming, and we have a lot of work to do. They were all there tomorrow, but at least we shone for one night. Our team had a great weekend last weekend with both Robert and Austin winning, and we are back to fighting in the countdown” .

Three other players followed closely behind Force, with points leader Haight, world champion Ron Caps and Matt Hagan clocking 3.86sec. Hagan is currently second in his 3.861-second run at 329.99 mph, with the Hight and Capps coming in at 3.864 and 3.866 seconds, respectively. Third Bob Tasca rounded out the top five with 3.876 seconds.

Looking to get into the Top Fuel Championship with a run late in the season — and also take a standout victory along the way — Kalitta was the only driver to dive in 3.60s on Friday, climbing to the top with his 3,694 s running at 326.56 mph in the pull tools own on Mac. Caleta is chasing his second playoff game this season, but also his 50th career win – and first since 2020 – as he looks to boost his performances in 2022. The veteran has yet to make it to the final round yet this year, but timing is everything in the countdown. For the championship, Kalita looked strong on Friday under the spotlight at zMAX Dragway.

“I always like to come here and the conditions were perfect,” Kalita said. “We had a lot of confidence in this race and I was really happy that he did what he did. We are hitting the wire and trying to go rounds. It was a lot of effort by the team and the car stayed in the groove well. It was impressive with all the runs along with We’re looking forward to pursuing it tomorrow. Throughout the year, we’ve tried to keep improving and I think we’ve found some things. This would be a great time to start rounds and get a consistent car.”

Competing in qualifying for the first time, defending event winner and second driver of the year Josh Hart is currently second with 3.702 seconds at 328.38 mph, while points leader Justin Ashley is directly ahead by 3.703 seconds at 330.72 mph.

Enders made a nice spurt for Friday’s Pro Stock qualifying opener in Charlotte, moving into pole position by a large margin with 6.513 seconds at 210.93 mph in the Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro. The closest she got to her was world title defender Greg Anderson, who clocked 6,535sec at 209.82mph, but Enders remained a step ahead as she approached fourth place for pole position this season and 27th in her career. After a dominant performance last weekend in Reading to open the championship countdown, Enders, the points leader and four-time world champion, maintained her impressive pace to open the weekend race at zMAX Dragway.

“This is a dream come true for me,” Enders said. “The five-man is still alive and we will try to keep doing the best we can. I definitely felt good when I let go of the clutch. All these points are important in the countdown and our goal is to accumulate as many points as possible. We did it in Reading and we will try to keep our feet On their throats. We got off to a good start, but we have five races left and we want to take advantage of every moment. We have to make those five races important and see what happens.”

Anderson, who won the Indy title to wrap up the regular season, is second while his KB Racing teammate, Dallas Glenn, is third with a pass of 6.537 seconds at 210.50 mph.

Qualification continues at 1:30 p.m. ET on Saturday at the Betway NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMAX Dragway.

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