Dave Grubnic qualifies No. 3 in Gainesville; Top Fuel teammate Doug Kalitta captures the No. 7 qualifying spot and Scott Kalitta fails to qualify in Funny Car Gainesville, Fla., (March 18, 2006) -- "Aussie Dave" Grubnic, driver of the black and...
Dave Grubnic qualifies No. 3 in Gainesville; Top Fuel teammate Doug Kalitta captures the No. 7 qualifying spot and Scott Kalitta fails to qualify in Funny Car
Gainesville, Fla., (March 18, 2006) -- "Aussie Dave" Grubnic, driver of the black and pink StriVectin-SD Top Fuel dragster, qualified No. 3 for Sunday's 16-car final eliminations field at the ACDelco NHRA Gatornationals in Gainesville Fla.
Grubnic wowed the capacity crowd of drag racing fans at historic Gainesville Raceway by making the quickest lap down the famed quarter-mile in the second qualifying session of 4.555 seconds at 323.62 mph Friday evening to claim the provisional pole position. In the third qualifying session, Saturday's first, Grubnic continued to pace the field of 7,000 horsepower dragsters with an impressive session-best lap of 4.573 sec., 317.46 mph. In the fourth and final qualifying session, Grubnic's StriVectin-SD rail lost traction and relinquished the top spot, but he stood on his time of 4.555 sec. to claim the No. 3 slot, his best qualifying position of the young 2006 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series season.
Grubnic, the track record holder at Gainesville for elapsed time, 4.481 sec. (2005), will race No. 14 qualifier and fellow native Australian Andrew Cowin (4.646 sec., 320.17 mph) in the first round of Sunday's 16-car final eliminations. Grubnic is 3-2 versus his countryman Cowin in his career in final eliminations. Their last meeting resulted in a Grubnic victory in the second round at Phoenix last season.
"We were No. 1 qualifier here last year and the year before that, so sure we're disappointed not to make it three in a row," Grubnic said. "I'm really happy with the performance of the car though. We made a couple great laps in not-so-good conditions. We smoked the tires in our last run, but we know why, so we'll get it all fixed up and be ready to go for the win tomorrow.
"I'll go up there to race Andrew just like any other competitor. I have a lot of respect for the Cowin family and for what they've done for drag racing here in the States and in Australia. Sure, there's a degree of pride on the line, but I just want to beat who ever is in the other lane."
Grubnic enters eliminations in 11th place in POWERade Top Fuel championship points.
For the second consecutive NHRA national event, Doug Kalitta, driver of the bright red Mac Tools flagship Top Fueler, qualified in the No. 7 qualifying spot, 4.575 sec., 328.22 mph. He will race No. 10 qualifier David Baca (4.626 sec., 328.34 mph) in the first round of eliminations. Doug is 5-3 versus Baca in his career in final eliminations.
Doug enters eliminations in eighth place in championship 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 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.
Scott Kalitta, driving his new Kalitta Air Funny Car flopper, failed to qualify for the event in Gainesville. In the final qualifying session, Scott rolled to the starting line needing a 4.900-sec. lap to make the final eliminations field. His Kalitta Air team made a valiant effort of 4.908 sec., but it was just not enough. The team also failed to qualify at the season-opening event in Pomona, Calif. After the last qualifying attempt, the team found a significant problem in the clutch and is now confident that they can get the problem resolved and be ready to vastly improve their season at the next event in Houston.
Rookie Top Fueler Hillary Will, driving the Kalitta Motorsports-managed, Ken Black-owned dragster, qualified in the No. 6 position.