AlBalooshi, Gray, Edwards, Smith Win At Norwalk
Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also went to the winner’s circle.
AlBalooshi scored his second-career victory with a win over top qualifier Doug Kalitta in the Top Fuel final in just his second final-round appearance of the season, besting Antron Brown, Chris Karamesines and Clay Millican for his first-ever final-round matchup against Kalitta.
At the start of the money round, both driver left the starting line at a dead heat before Kalitta began to smoke the tires and pedal his Mac Tools dragster, allowing alBalooshi to pull ahead to get the win light, going 3.935 at 271.30 mph over Kalitta’s 4.215 at 268.54 despite dropping cylinders as he came to the finish.
“The last race I lost in the first round last year was at this track, and this week I won my first trophy (in 2013) at this track,” alBalooshi said. “I’ve been looking forward to this race for a long time, especially when I was in Englishtown in the final with our teammate (Shawn Langdon).”
Langdon, who lost out to Kalitta in the semi-finals, re-gained the Top Fuel points lead by just a single point over Tony Schumacher while Kalitta moves to fourth over Antron Brown. Spencer Massey retained third place in the standings.
Meeting in the final for the fourth time in their careers, Gray and Capps left the line hitting nearly identical lights and went door to door for the entire 1,000 feet, with Gray barely edging Capps at the finish line by less than three feet.
Both drivers posted an ET of 4.103, with the difference being the .006 Gray got at the starting line.
“Everybody said it was back-and-forth all the way down the track, and it was just a great drag race,” said Gray, who beat out Alexis DeJoria, Chad Head and defending champion Jack Beckman to reach the finals. “You just can’t say enough for what my crew does for me and (Sunday) was my day. We came to Norwalk and the car never missed a step. When I get a race car like this, it’s really hard to screw it up.”
With the win, Gray moves into second in points behind Matt Hagan - despite failing to make the field in Charlotte back in April – while Capps moved up one spot to fourth behind Cruz Pedregon who fell to third.
Edwards, who set the track speed record in qualifying for Sunday’s event, beat out Mark Hogan, Rickie Jones and two-time Norwalk winner Vincent Nobile to face Johnson, who was on a roll after setting the low ET of the day with an opening-round bye.
In the final round, Johnson was first off the line but immediately began shaking the tires and shut it down as Edwards streaked past for the victory, running 6.616 at 209.56 mph for his 38th career victory and first ever at Norwalk.
“I just could never get a handle on this place, but it sure feels good to finally come here and win a race,” said Edwards. “Hats off to all my guys for another tremendous job this weekend. We made a really nice run in the final, and we were very proud of that. I just hope we can keep the wheels on this thing and keep the momentum going.”
Edwards opened up a 154-point margin in the series point standings over Johnson, who moved from fourth to second with the final-round loss.
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Matt Smith broke a 34-race winless streak with a close victory over Scotty Pollacheck for his first victory since 2011 and 14th of his career.
Smith topped Hector Arana, Michael Ray and teammate John Hall to reach his second final round of the season and his first ever versus Pollacheck, who was making just the second final round of his career.
Right at the start of the final round, Smith hit a .018 light and that was all the margin he needed, easily beating out Pollacheck with a quick pass of 6.954 at 192.44 over Pollacheck, who ran 7.008 at 191.16
“It’s been a hard road to get back here,” Smith said. “I was off on my tune-up a little bit, but we changed motors this morning and it got a little better each round. We’ve been fast on this bike and it was just awesome again (Sunday).”
With the win, Smith moved from fifth to third in points behind Hector Arana, Jr. and Michael Ray while Pollacheck moved to fifth.
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