Kalitta’s qualifying run comes to end

John Force wasn’t the only veteran to see his qualifying streak end Saturday in the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals.

Top Fuel driver Doug Kalitta also failed to advance to today’s championship elimination rounds at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, which begin at 11 a.m.

Kalitta missed making the 16-car field for the first time in 164 national events, dating to 2000. Force’s streak was 395 before he was bumped by Jack Beckman.

“It’s terribly disappointing, but no one here will hold their head down,” Kalitta said. “We didn’t make it, and that’s that. We just had a bad weekend. It happens, and we’ll move on. I really think this will just make us a lot stronger. We’ll be OK.”

Four-time and reigning Top Fuel champion Tony Schumacher claimed the 36th pole of his career. He will try to win his fourth Las Vegas title.

“This class is tough top to bottom,” Schumacher said. “We’ve got J.R. Todd in Round 1, and he’s already won two races this year. Doug Kalitta didn’t even make the show. It’s brutal.”

David Powers Motorsports teammates Rod Fuller of Las Vegas and Whit Bazemore qualified third and fourth.

Beckman will meet No. 1 qualifier Mike Ashley in the first round.

It’s the first time Ashley has taken the top spot in only 32 NHRA national events, but he’s confident after running 334.32 mph Friday — the fastest speed ever by a Funny Car.

In Pro Stock, three-time series champion Jeg Coughlin Jr., who has won three titles at Las Vegas, got his second straight No. 1 position.

Before this year with Victor Cagnazzi’s team, Coughlin had started on the pole only eight times in 189 races.

“We’re running great, and now it’s time to turn some of these great qualifying efforts into wins,” said Coughlin, whose teammate, Dave Connolly, qualified second.

“Victor needs a few trophies on his desk to remind him why we do this crazy stuff.”

• LOCALS — Funny Car rookie Jon Capps of Las Vegas had mechanical problems Saturday and failed to make his first NHRA professional eliminations.

Capps, driving a car owned and tuned by Paul Smith, placed 20th among 23 teams. …

Duane Shields of Boulder City won his first round in Top Alcohol Dragster eliminations and advanced to today’s second round.

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