Denver: Kalitta Motorsports Saturday summary

Doug Kalitta qualifies No. 1 in Denver; Top Fuel teammate Dave Grubnic lands in the No. 5 qualifying spot and Scott Kalitta qualifies No. 15 in Funny Car DENVER, Colo., (July 15, 2006) -- Doug Kalitta, driver of "Big Red", the 8,000 horsepower...

Doug Kalitta qualifies No. 1 in Denver; Top Fuel teammate Dave Grubnic lands in the No. 5 qualifying spot and Scott Kalitta qualifies No. 15 in Funny Car

DENVER, Colo., (July 15, 2006) -- Doug Kalitta, driver of "Big Red", the 8,000 horsepower Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster, will begin Sunday's 16-car Top Fuel final eliminations atop the qualifying mountain in the No. 1 (4.631 seconds, 319.60 mph) qualifying position at the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals at scenic Bandimere Speedway in Denver, Colo.

Doug's qualifying fete is his first No. 1 qualifying position of the 2006 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series season and his first No. 1 since the St. Louis event at the mid-point of last season. It is the 27th No. 1 qualifying position of his Top Fuel career.

Doug will race No. 16 qualifier Scott Palmer (5.563 sec., 176.47 mph) in the first round of eliminations tomorrow.

"It's great to be low qualifier, but we hope we can break the jinx (No No. 1 Top Fuel qualifier has won an event thus far in the 2006)," Doug said. "We've got a brand new car this weekend, and it seems to be working out good so far.

"Tomorrow is supposed to be about the same as far as weather conditions, so we'll just see what happens. Hopefully we can go rounds and maybe leave here with the points lead."

Doug has won four of the previous seven NHRA national events (Bristol, Tenn., Atlanta, Topeka, Kans., and Chicago), and he enters tomorrow's final eliminations in second place in POWERade championship points, now just 18 points, less than one elimination round, behind Top Fuel points leader Melanie Troxel. Doug's four wins this season are the most by any driver in drag racing's quickest and fastest racing class.

Doug is looking for his first Top Fuel trophy at picturesque Bandimere Speedway.

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 28 NHRA national event wins in 51 final-round appearances. 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 Dave Grubnic, driver of the 330-mph, pink and black StriVectin-SD Top Fuel dragster, qualified for final eliminations in the No. 5 spot (4.643 sec., 327.82 mph). He will race the No. 12 qualifier Troxel (4.785 sec., 312.42 mph) in the first round of eliminations. Grubnic's booming 327.82-mph blast was the best of the four Top Fuel qualifying sessions.

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 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. He also won the prestigious Gatornationals Top Fuel title in March in Gainesville, Fla.

Doug's cousin Scott Kalitta, driving the specially painted Technicoat Companies Nitro Funny Car flopper, qualified No. 15 (5.172 sec., 274.50 mph) for Sunday's eliminations. Scott, the son of team owner, crew chief and drag racing legend Connie Kalitta, will race No. 2 qualifier Gary Scelzi (4.896 sec., 310.20 mph) in the first round of eliminations.

This weekend's event marks the first of event of the NHRA's Western Swing (Denver, Seattle, Sonoma, Calif.) and the Kalitta Motorsports Associate Sponsor Appreciation Swing. Scott's flopper is adorned with primary sponsorship for Technicoat Companies for the event in the mile-high city.

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.

Scott has three Top Fuel wins at Bandimere Speedway, 2004, 1995, and 1994.

Rookie Top Fueler Hillary Will, driving the Kalitta Motorsports-managed, Ken Black-owned dragster, qualified in the No. 7 position.

Sunday's final eliminations at the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals begin at noon.

-Kalitta Motorsports

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Series NHRA
Drivers Gary Scelzi , Doug Kalitta , Scott Kalitta , Melanie Troxel , Scott Palmer , Connie Kalitta , Hillary Will , Ken Black