Charlotte: Doug Kalitta preview

Mac Tools dragster driver Doug Kalitta ready to start "new" season at new drag strip in Charlotte CONCORD, N.C., (Sept. 9, 2008) -- Doug Kalitta, driver of the "Big Red", Nitro-fueled, 8,000-horsepower Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster, enters this...

Mac Tools dragster driver Doug Kalitta ready to start "new" season at new drag strip in Charlotte

CONCORD, N.C., (Sept. 9, 2008) -- Doug Kalitta, driver of the "Big Red", Nitro-fueled, 8,000-horsepower Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster, enters this weekend's, Sept. 11-14, inaugural running of the NHRA Carolinas Nationals at zMax Dragway @ Concord in Concord, N.C., just a few miles from downtown Charlotte, as one of ten Top Fuel drivers in the 2008 NHRA Countdown to 1. The NHRA Carolinas Nationals is the first of six events in this year's Countdown to1.

Kalitta and the Mac Tools team are certainly looking forward to competing at the new race track at zMax Dragway @ Concord, which has been widely heralded as the new epicenter of drag racing, but their focus will be centered on the performance of the Mac Tools flagship rail and making their run for a season championship.

In years past, before the Countdown to the Championship "playoffs" system was first employed by NHRA last season, Kalitta would enter this weekend's grand opening in the Tar Heel State in 9th place in points, and an insurmountable 940 points behind the POWERade points leader. Under the 2008 Countdown to 1 points tally, Kalitta still enters the event in 9th, but now trails the leader by only 100 points.

"This is like a new beginning to the season for us," Kalitta, a 44-year old resident of Ann Arbor, Mich., said. "Everything we've struggled with this season getting to this point is wiped clean, and we get a chance to go for the championship. The Mac Tools dragster has been getting better and better in the past few events, and we're hitting our stride at the right time."

Kalitta posted a runner-up finish, his first of the season, at the previous event, the famed Mac Tools U.S. Nationals, in Indianapolis. At the event in Brainerd, Minn., two events previous to Indy, Kalitta recorded his fourth semi-final showing of the year.

This weekend's event in the Charlotte area will not be Kalitta's first racing foray in what has become the new Mecca of auto racing in the United States. Kalitta, the 1994 USAC National Sprint Car Champion, raced occasionally in the ARCA stock car series in the mid and late 90s, including a begrudgingly memorable race at Lowes Motor Speedway, which sits within eyesight of the new zMax Dragway @ Concord.

"We ran an ARCA car at LMS once," Kalitta continued. "All I remember now is that we blew up two engines practicing and qualifying. We pieced one together for the race and we managed to finish the race, but we were pretty far back. Hopefully we'll have a lot better showing on the drag strip."

-credit: km

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Series NHRA
Drivers Doug Kalitta