The UAE drag racer lost out to Al-Anabi Racing teammate Shawn Langdon at Pomona, but left the circuit with a career-high third place in the rankings.
Khalid Al Balooshi takes third in opening Top Fuel race of the season
UAE drag racer Khalid Al Balooshi enjoyed an impressive start to his second season in the sport's top competition after reaching the semi-finals of the opening event.
The Dubai driver lost out to Al-Anabi teammate Shawn Langdon, but the result leaves him in third place in the competition rankings - the highest position of his Top Fuel career.
"My crew chief gave me a very good car all weekend, and I am very happy with how our team worked together," al Balooshi said afterwards.
"Last year at this race we lost in the first round. Today, we raced Shawn's team in the semifinals, but we lost the race. Our team was very good all weekend, and we know we will be better and better each race."
Al Balooshi beat veteran drivers Bob Vandergriff and Doug Kalitta on his way to the semifinals, before being defeated by Langdon - whom the UAE driver defeated for his first win last October.
The race, the first of 24 which make up the elite drag racing season in the USA, was won by Langdon, putting the Qatar Al-Anabi Racing team - owned by Sheikh Khalid bin Hamad Al Thani - in first and third place in the table ahead of this weekend's round in Phoenix, Arizona.
Langdon ran a 3.721 second pass, at 322.27mph, to set a new track record at Pomona and lead the standings for the first time in his career.
"We struggled a little in qualifying, but on race day, I felt we really had the car to beat," he said. "Our crew chiefs are just doing a phenomenal job with the race car and the new parts and pieces we've been using."
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