Joliet: Kalitta Motorsports final report

Team DHL has breakout weekend in Joliet JOLIET, Ill., (June 8, 2008) --It had been 19 years since Scott Kalitta, driver of the DHL Toyota Solara Funny Car, had been to a NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series final round until Sunday at the Torco ...

Team DHL has breakout weekend in Joliet

JOLIET, Ill., (June 8, 2008) --It had been 19 years since Scott Kalitta, driver of the DHL Toyota Solara Funny Car, had been to a NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series final round until Sunday at the Torco Racing Fuels Route 66 NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Ill., just a few miles south of the Chicago city limits.

Kalitta raced against Tony Pedregon in the final round. The two wily drag racing veterans gave the fans at Route 66 Raceway a great race to watch in the final round, but unfortunately, Kalitta came up on the losing end, 4.957 sec., 308.92 mph to 4.818 sec., 319.75 mph, to be the event runner-up.

Kalitta's previous final-round appearance was also the site of his only win in NHRA's Funny Car class in Houston in 1989. Kalitta was the back-to-back NHRA Top Fuel world champion in 1994-95. He won 17 NHRA national events in a Top Fuel dragster in his career before switching back to Funny Cars in 2006.

Kalitta, the No. 13 qualifier, raced his DHL flopper to the final round in Joliet by defeating Ron Capps, Cruz Pedregon, and Gary Densham in respective rounds. Kalitta's previous final round was also in Joliet when he captured his final Top Fuel title trophy in 2005.

"Well, we're disappointed, but then again we're pretty happy," Kalitta, a 46-year old resident of Palmetto, Fla., said. "We have struggled so much with our DHL Funny Car all year long, so just getting to the final is a major accomplishment for me and my team. We turned a very big corner this weekend with our car, and that's what we're the most excited about."

Until today, Kalitta had only one round win in 2008 (Phoenix). He and the DHL team have failed to qualify at five events in 2008.

Native Australian Grubnic, a 45-year old resident of Ennis, Mont., drove his DHL Top Fuel dragster to a quarter-final finish in Joliet. Grubnic, the No. 5 qualifier, defeated No. 12 qualifier Brandon Bernstein in round one of Top Fuel eliminations Sunday, 5.132 sec., 284.15 mph to 5.936 sec., 173.54 mph.

In the quarterfinals, Grubnic raced against Doug Herbert. Grubnic's DHL charge had traction problems in its lap down the quarter-mile, and that allowed Herbert to pull away and get the win, 5.276 sec., 190.03 mph to 4.722 sec., 302.01 mph.

Grubnic is currently in 10th place in POWERade Top Fuel championship points, while Kalitta is in 17th place in Funny Car points. Kalitta moved up two positions in points with his runner-up finish.

-credit: km

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Series NHRA
Drivers Doug Herbert , Tony Pedregon , Ron Capps , Gary Densham , Cruz Pedregon , Brandon Bernstein