Doug Kalitta became just the fourth different winner in the Top Fuel class this season by outlasting all comers Sunday at Bandimere Speedway near Denver.
Funny Car's Robert Hight and Pro Stock's Allen Johnson also claimed trophies at the event, the 16th of 23 on the Full Throttle schedule.
A four-time runner-up in 2010, Kalitta finally punched one through at the toughest tracks on the tour by catching and passing Brandon Bernstein on the 1,000-foot course to eke out the victory by 0.018 second. The win dropped Bernstein to 0-3 with the trophy on the line.
It was a close race, with Bernstein jumping out to a 0.022-second head start courtesy of a 0.053-second to 0.075-second reaction time advantage. But the Kalitta Air dragster was making enough steam to catch and pass the Copart rail, crossing first with a 3.963-second pass at 308.35 mph to Bernstein's 4.003 seconds at 297.35 mph.
Hight faced off against his father-in-law, boss and current points leader John Force in an all-Ford Mustang Funny Car finale and, like Kalitta, had to make up ground during the race after Force blazed away with a 0.031-second reaction time to Hight's 0.073-second start. But Force was soon hazing the tires of his Castrol GTX machine, allowing Hight's Auto Club mount to thunder by for a 4.215-second, 296.05-mph victory against Force's 4.386 seconds at 284.99 mph.
Second in the standings, Hight is now just 28 points behind Force with one race remaining before the Countdown to One playoffs begin.
Keeping a promise he made to his sponsors at Mopar, Dodge Avenger pilot Johnson earned his first Pro Stock victory of the season when final-round opponent Jeg Coughlin Jr. lost power in the motor of his Jegs.com Chevrolet Cobalt. This marked the fourth straight year that Johnson raced to the final round of this event.
Johnson may have been hard to beat under the best of circumstances as he coaxed a 6.974 seconds at 198.26 mph out his Mopar-bannered machine. Coughlin left the line hard but had to give up before reaching half track, coasting to a 7.858 seconds at 135.09 mph.