Columbus: Kalitta Racing preview

Kalitta cousins hoping for 'hometown' NHRA win; Grubnic flying the banner for Ohio-based Summit Racing Equipment in Columbus Columbus, Ohio, June 6, 2004 -- Scott Kalitta, driver of the Mac Tools/Jesse James Top Fuel dragster, is beginning to...

Kalitta cousins hoping for 'hometown' NHRA win; Grubnic flying the banner for Ohio-based Summit Racing Equipment in Columbus

Columbus, Ohio, June 6, 2004 -- Scott Kalitta, driver of the Mac Tools/Jesse James Top Fuel dragster, is beginning to get jealous of his cousin and Kalitta Motorsports teammate Doug Kalitta. Doug, who drives the bright red flagship Top Fuel dragster for Mac Tools, has been to the final round in the previous two NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series national events and has reached the finals four times in the first nine events, including a big win in Chicago just a couple of weeks ago.

Scott, a two-time NHRA Top Fuel Champion (1994-1995), has yet to score a win since his return to the cockpit of his Connie "the Bounty Hunter" Kalitta-tuned hot rod last season at Indianapolis after a few years of retirement. With his win in Chicago, Doug now has 16 career NHRA victories, leaving Scott trailing by one in that tally and desperately ready to even the score again.

Scott is confident he will get his chance to equal his cousin this weekend at the Pontiac Excitement NHRA Nationals presented by Summit Racing Equipment in Columbus, Ohio, at historic National Trail Raceway, June 10-13. The event is the tenth of 23 in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.

"We're family, but we're competitors too," Scott said. "In Topeka (previous event) we matched up in the semis, and he beat us. I wanted to win that round as much or more than I would have if it would have been [Larry] Dixon or [Tony] Schumacher or [Brandon] Bernstein. You always want to win no matter who is in the other lane.

"When dad (crew chief, team owner and drag racing legend Connie) was still driving, I wanted to beat him more than anybody. Dad was a great driver, so beating him meant that I had accomplished something. It's the same way with Doug or even Dave (Grubnic, driver of the third Kalitta Motorsports Top Fuel dragster) now. We've got a great team, so I know I've done something if I beat one of my teammates, but if I lose, I'm the first person to go to the starting line and support my teammates.

"Our win is coming very soon," Scott continued. "Our Mac Tools/Jesse James car has really started coming around. It won't be long."

Columbus is also home to the Mac Tools corporate headquarters. Doug, holder of the quickest (4.420 seconds -- Chicago 1, 2004) and the fastest (335.57 mph -- Las Vegas 1, 2004) time slips in NHRA history, likes racing his red rail in front of his adopted "hometown" crowd.

"Ypsilanti (Mich., Kalitta Motorsports shop location) is not that far from Columbus," Doug said. "But, it's the big crowd of all the great Mac Tools folks from distributors to corporate staff that really come out to support us when we race at National Trail.

"They're the reason we're here. If it weren't for them all, we would not get to go have fun with our race cars, so we want to make them proud of us each lap down the track."

"Aussie Dave" Grubnic will be driving a specially painted one-off paint scheme for another industry-leading Ohio-based company this weekend. Grubnic's Summit Racing Equipment Top Fuel dragster will attack the quarter mile drag strip at National Trail Raceway with as much determination to win as his Kalitta Motorsports teammates.

Grubnic explained, "The wonderful people at Summit are so excited about being associated with our race car, and we feel the same way. It's so great to see their enthusiasm. Hopefully, we can make them proud and get their car into the winner's circle in Columbus."

Grubnic, a journeyman Top Fueler is in his first year with Kalitta Motorsports and already has four No. 1 qualifier awards in 2004 (Phoenix, Gainesville, Atlanta and Chicago 1).

Connie serves as crew chief for all three Team Kalitta entries. He is Doug's uncle and Scott's dad. He is assisted by co-crew chiefs Rahn Tobler (Mac Tools dragster), Jim Oberhofer (Mac Tools/Jesse James dragster) and Jon Oberhofer (Kalitta Air dragster).

Qualifying for Sunday's 16-car final eliminations field begins with two sessions Friday for the professional classes and two more again Saturday.

Please visit www.kalittaracing.com for more information about Kalitta Motorsports.

-kr-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Doug Kalitta , Scott Kalitta , Jim Oberhofer , Jesse James