Baytown: Doug Kalitta Saturday summary

Doug Kalitta qualifies No. 2 in Houston; Top Fuel teammate Dave Grubnic captures the No. 5 qualifying spot and Scott Kalitta fails to qualify in Funny Car BAYTOWN, TEX., (April 1, 2006) -- Doug Kalitta, driver of the bright red Mac Tools...

Doug Kalitta qualifies No. 2 in Houston; Top Fuel teammate Dave Grubnic captures the No. 5 qualifying spot and Scott Kalitta fails to qualify in Funny Car

BAYTOWN, TEX., (April 1, 2006) -- Doug Kalitta, driver of the bright red Mac Tools flagship Top Fuel dragster, qualified No. 2 with a qualifying best of 4.533 seconds at 326.08 mph for Sunday's 16-car final eliminations field for the O'Reilly NHRA Spring Nationals at Houston Raceway Park in Baytown, Tex., just outside of downtown Houston.

"It's a great effort by Rahn (Tobler, crew chief) and all my Mac Tools guys," Doug said. "It's nice to be near the top of the ladder going into Sunday. We'll do like we always do and just go out there and give it our best shot and hopefully go some rounds tomorrow."

Doug, a 41-year old resident of Ann Arbor, Mich., will race No. 15 qualifier Bob Vandergriff Jr. (4.665 sec., 312.50 mph) in the first round of eliminations.

Doug enters eliminations in eighth place in championship points. His last win in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series was in Brainerd, Minn., last August.

Doug, a 41-year old resident of Ann Arbor, Mich., is a two-time Top Fuel championship points runner-up (2003-2004) and the 1998 Auto Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award winner for rookie excellence. He has 24 NHRA national event wins. He is now in his ninth season in NHRA Top Fuel drag racing. Before joining the quarter-mile set, Doug raced in open-wheel competition and won the 1994 USAC National Sprint Car Championship.

Doug's Kalitta Motorsports Top Fuel teammate and native Australian Dave Grubnic qualified for Sunday's eliminations in the No. 5 spot (4.553 sec., 326.24 mph). He will race No. 12 qualifier Brandon Bernstein (4.625 sec., 324.44 mph) in the first round of eliminations.

Grubnic, a 43-year old resident of Ennis, Mont., won the previous NHRA national event in Gainesville, Fla., two weeks ago. He enters eliminations in 3rd place in POWERade Top Fuel championship points, just 74 points out of the lead.

In early 2004, Grubnic, a 43-year old resident of Ennis, Mont., was hired to drive for Kalitta Motorsports after several years of driving for teams with minimal funding. Since joining Team Kalitta, Grubnic, now in his 12th season as a Top Fuel driver, has posted consecutive top-five championship points finishes. In 2004, he won the lucrative and coveted Budweiser Shootout in Las Vegas, becoming only the fourth driver in the special event's 20-year history to win its $100,000 prize in his first attempt, and he picked up an emotional and long overdue first NHRA national event win in May, 2005 in Topeka, Kans., to become the first non-native North American to win a Top Fuel trophy.

Despite running a career-best speed in Funny Car (317.94 mph) in the third session of qualifying, Doug's cousin Scott Kalitta, driving his new Kalitta Air Monte Carlo Funny Car flopper, was unable to make his way into the final eliminations field. His best effort of 4.90 sec. was not quite enough to get in the show with a bump spot of 4.88.

Scott, a 43-year old resident of Palmetto, Fla., and 25-year drag racing veteran, made the switch from Top Fuel to Funny Car this season. Scott has one NHRA national event win in his career in nitro Funny Car and that was at the Houston event in 1989 while driving with a broken left foot. In Top Fuel, Scott scored two world championships (1994-1995) and 17 NHRA national event wins.

Rookie Top Fueler Hillary Will, driving the Kalitta Motorsports-managed, Ken Black-owned dragster, qualified in the No. 14 position.

-km

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Series NHRA
Drivers Doug Kalitta , Scott Kalitta , Brandon Bernstein , Bob Vandergriff , Hillary Will , Ken Black