Ypsilanti, Mich., June 3, 2005 - Zantrex-3 Top Fuel dragster driver and native Australian "Aussie Dave" Grubnic, 42, got an emotional and historic first NHRA national event win of his 11-year career Sunday in Topeka, Kans. The perpetually ...
Ypsilanti, Mich., June 3, 2005 - Zantrex-3 Top Fuel dragster driver and native Australian "Aussie Dave" Grubnic, 42, got an emotional and historic first NHRA national event win of his 11-year career Sunday in Topeka, Kans. The perpetually enthusiastic fan-favorite became the first non-North American to win an NHRA Top Fuel event. Now third-place holder in Top Fuel championship points Grubnic took a few minutes in this Q&A session to reflect on "the win" and the events that have transpired in the past few days.
Q: Has "the win" soaked in or are you still in somewhat of a state of shock?
A: Yes, it has soaked in. The main feeling was relief to finally get that first win out of the way. Don't get me wrong though, I've still have a huge grin on my face. I normally have one of those though, but I think it's a bit bigger right now.
Q: Your confidence was at an all-time high before and during the event in Topeka. Why was that?
A: Well, I was mad at myself. My driving lately hasn't been the greatest. I caused some controversy that should never have happened with the red lights against Doug (Kalitta, teammate and Top Fuel points leader). Believe me; I was going to do what ever I could to make up for that to my Zantrex-3 guys and to myself. When all that red light nonsense was going on, everyone automatically assumed that it was intentional. Nobody stopped to think, "Hey, could the Aussie just be screwing up?" which was exactly what was happening. I had something going on in my head that I had to get rid of. That's why in Topeka I was saying to myself and to anyone that would listen that I was not going to lose this race. Someone might beat me, but I was not going to lose it.
Q: Was there discord on your team after the red lights in Bristol and Atlanta? Does winning rectify that?
A: There were some unhappy people and rightfully so. We're a team though. Just like in the stick-and-ball sports, you have to play as a team and work together toward one goal -- winning. So, winning does help rectify problems because the team accomplished its goal. However, as far as I'm concerned, it only rectifies one of those red lights, I still owe everyone another win.
Q: When you joined the Top Fuel powerhouse of Kalitta Motorsports in the beginning of 2004, did you think it would take this long to finally get the first Wally trophy?
A: Too be quite honest, I never even thought about it. The first win that is. I believe things happen for a reason, and we would win when it was meant to be. Finally, it was meant to be in Topeka.
Q: Your team owner and drag racing legend Connie Kalitta has always said he wanted you to get your first win in one of his cars. How gratifying is it for you to finally do that for him and to also be Connie's 50th win as an owner, driver and/or tuner?
A: Man, what can I say? It's difficult for me to express my gratitude in words. It's like sitting there watching the lotto numbers drop and you have five of them and then the sixth one is yours and your heart starts valve bouncing and the adrenalin flows like the Mississippi through your veins. What an honor to be part of his organization! I love that man. He's the greatest.
Q: Connie didn't stay to be part of the winner's circle celebration in Topeka. Did that upset you?
A: I called him that night. Actually, it was about two hours after the final, and he was at home already. I asked why he didn't stay and he said, "Davey, the sooner I get home the sooner I can celebrate!" That's good enough for me. What a character!
Q: Your Zantrex-3 Team and Sponsor Relations Representative is drag racing legend Shirley Muldowney. What conversations have you had with her since winning in Topeka?
A: Shirley wanted to be there for my first win. We were fortunate to have her with us when we won the Budweiser Shootout last fall in Las Vegas, but she was not in Topeka. I called her as soon as I could. We were actually in the winner's circle. I thanked her for all the advise and coaching she gave me, and told her that she was 100% correct. It all made sense to me now. She really is a true champion and I'm so proud to have her as part of our team.
Q: Now that the "monkey is off the back", will you be more relaxed? Do you think it will improve your chances to win without that "first win" pressure?
A: Well, I don't know about being more relaxed. I do believe there will be less pressure, or rather a different kind of pressure. Now that I've tasted the spoils of victory, who knows how hungry I'll get.
Q: Did you ever consider quitting after the years, 11 in your career, started adding up without a win?
A: No, never. I love this sport. I'll stay in it in whatever capacity I can. There's been a few times when I thought I might not be driving because of money or whatever, but I have to be involved somehow. Sure, there was some frustration over the years and I wondered a couple times if I should be doing this, but I never wanted to quit.
Q: Being the first non-North American to win in NHRA Top Fuel is quite an accomplishment. As an Aussie, are you proud to do this for your native country? Have you made any calls to your "mates" Down Under since winning?
A: You bet I'm proud. I've received a bunch of E-mails from fans in Australia. Believe me; it's a great feeling, and yes I have spoken to some of my buddies. Everyone was very excited for me, as they should be (laughing). Australia is a very sports-oriented country, and they get into it. My best friend there said, "Now you know what to do, you better get on with it". See, they're already expecting more!
Q: Your drag racing peers, including Morgan Lucas who specifically addressed his excitement for you in his team's Topeka post-race report, have almost all expressed their happiness to you for getting your first win. What does that mean to you?
A: It means a lot to me, more than I can describe. I take pride in what I do and that includes how I treat other people. Believe me; it's very gratifying for me to know that I have their respect not just as a driver, but as a person. My sincere thanks to everyone.
Q: At every event, POWERade sets an event-winner flag in front of the pit area of the pro winners from the previous event. After you won in Topeka, Tony Schumacher's crewmen wheeled the flag over to your pit area from theirs. What did you think about that great gesture?
A: I heard about that on our way back to the pits from the winner's circle. I started my career working on these cars and I have a lot of respect for all the guys that work on these cars. Last year, we were in five finals and three of those were with Tony, so we kind of had a special relationship with the Army crew. Then, when I got back to my pit, the flag was there along with guys that brought it over; even Tony was at the top end to congratulate me, which he told me he would do when I finally won one of these races. Man, I got tell you it's a great feeling and I'm really lost for words to describe it.