Arend wins rain-delayed NHRA Mid-South Nationals

Oct 6, 2009 - 1:04 AM MEMPHIS, Tenn.(AP) -- Jeff Arend and Funny Car team owner and NHRA icon Connie Kalitta celebrated an emotional, tearful victory Monday at the rain-delayed O'Reilly NHRA Mid-South Nationals at Memphis Motorsports Park.

Joining Arend in the winner's circle at the 21st of 24 races in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series were Morgan Lucas (Top Fuel), Jason Line (Pro Stock) and Michael Phillips (Pro Stock Motorcycle).

Arend, who replaced Connie's late son Scott Kalitta in the DHL Solara, turned in a blistering 4.091 at 310.41 in the final round to easily outrun Tony Pedregon's trailing 16.659 at 37.81. The speed was the fifth fastest 1000-foot Funny Car speed recorded.

Meanwhile, by reaching the semifinals, Ashley Force Hood ascended into first place in Funny Car at the halfway point of NHRA's six-race playoff, the Countdown to 1. The 26-year old daughter of John Force is seeking to become the first woman in history to win a championship in NHRA's ultra-competitive Funny Car division.

In Top Fuel, Lucas claimed his third victory of the season with his tire-spinning win over first-place Tony Schumacher, who extended his points lead over Larry Dixon to 54; Lucas moved into fifth place (133 points behind Schumacher).

In Pro Stock, Line jumped from fifth place to second place with his 6.576 at 210.05 against Ron Krisher, who red-lighted. Line trails points leader Mike Edwards by 78 points with three races to go.

In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Michael Phillips won for the first time in six years when he clipped defending Series champ Eddie Krawiec.

The Countdown to 1 continues next weekend in Richmond with the fourth race in the six-race playoff, the NHRA Virginia Nationals, Oct. 9-11, at Virginia Motorsports Park.

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