NHRA Top Fueler Dave Grubnic reaches semifinals in Columbus; Teammates Doug Kalitta and Scott Kalitta suffer early defeats COLUMBUS, Ohio (May 20, 2006) -- Native Australian Dave Grubnic, driver of the pink and black, 7,000 horsepower ...
NHRA Top Fueler Dave Grubnic reaches semifinals in Columbus; Teammates Doug Kalitta and Scott Kalitta suffer early defeats
COLUMBUS, Ohio (May 20, 2006) -- Native Australian Dave Grubnic, driver of the pink and black, 7,000 horsepower StriVectin-SD Top Fuel dragster, marched to the semi-final round of the Pontiac Performance NHRA Nationals at National Trail Raceway in Columbus, Ohio, Sunday.
Fan-favorite Grubnic, the No. 9 qualifier (4.558 seconds, 321.96 mph), defeated No. 8 qualifier J.R. Todd in the first round of final eliminations, 4.609 sec., 314.24 mph to 4.812 sec., 243.63 mph. In round two, Grubnic and his StriVectin-SD team breezed to an easy win over a tire-smoking Scott Weis, 4.588 sec., 313.22 mph to 6.380 sec., 139.30 mph.
The semifinal round for Grubnic found him matched up against Cory McClenathan. It was a thrilling side-by-side race for the fans at National Trail Raceway, but the outcome was not the result desired by the affable Aussie, 4.590 sec., 312.42 mph to 4.546 sec., 328.46 mph. In their 19 career elimination-round races, Grubnic has beaten McClenathan on seven occassions.
Grubnic leaves Columbus in 4th place in POWERade championship points, 184 points behind the leader.
In early 2004, Grubnic, a 43-year old resident of Ennis, Mont., also a warrior ,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.
Grubnic's Kalitta Motorsports Top Fuel teammate Doug Kalitta, driver of the Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster, qualified for final eliminations in the No. 11 spot (4.590 sec., 329.67 mph). He raced No. 6 qualifier Dixon in round one. Unfortunately, Doug ended up on the losing end of a great drag race with the former world champ, 4.600 sec., 309.06 mph to 4.575 sec., 325.45 mph. The margin of victory at the finish line was a mere .013 sec.
Doug remains in 2nd place in POWERade championship points. He trails the leader by 154 points.
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 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 cousin Scott Kalitta, driving his new Kalitta Air Monte Carlo Funny Car flopper, qualified No. 11 (4.797 sec., 316.67 mph) for Sunday's eliminations. Scott, the son of team owner and drag racing legend Connie Kalitta, raced No. 5 qualifier and defending POWERade points world champion Gary Scelzi in the first round of eliminations. Scott's flopper left the starting line solidly, but then faltered and faded away from Scelzi's winning lap, 6.274 sec., 145.39 mph to 4.846 sec., 314.17 mph.
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. She lost to Rod Fuller in round one.
The Pontiac Performance NHRA Nationals was the 8th of 23 national events in the 2006 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.