Doug Kalitta makes NHRA's quickest run ever in Chicago final round to get first win of 2004; Teammates Scott Kalitta and David Grubnic move up in points Joliet, Ill., May 23, 2004 -- In his 99th consecutive NHRA national event start, Doug...
Doug Kalitta makes NHRA's quickest run ever in Chicago final round to get first win of 2004; Teammates Scott Kalitta and David Grubnic move up in points
Joliet, Ill., May 23, 2004 -- In his 99th consecutive NHRA national event start, Doug Kalitta, driver of the bright red Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster, piloted his 7,000 + horsepower nitro hot rod to his first win of the 2004 season at the NHRA Route 66 Nationals Sunday at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Ill., just outside Chicago. The event was the eighth of 23 in the $50 million POWERade Drag Racing Series. It was his third final-round appearance of 2004 (Pomona 1, Phoenix).
After qualifying in the No. 4 position, Kalitta used his uncle Connie "the Bounty Hunter" Kalitta's powerful tune-up to make the quickest lap ever down the quarter mile of 4.420 seconds to defeat Brandon Bernstein in the title round. It was Bernstein's first ever loss after reaching the finals. The win is the 16th of Doug's seven-year career, making him the winningest NHRA driver in Kalitta Motorsports' history. Team owner, crew chief and drag racing legend Connie scored 10 NHRA career event wins, while Doug's cousin and teammate Scott Kalitta, driver of the Mac Tools/Jesse James Top Fuel entry, has won 15 times in his career. Kalitta Air Top Fuel dragster driver "Aussie Dave" Grubnic, in his first season with Team Kalitta, is still looking to get his first NHRA event win.
Doug's best ever 4.420-sec. run at Route 66 Raceway accompanies his other NHRA best feat of a 335.57-mph mark set in Las Vegas earlier this season.
"Wow," an exuberant Doug said. "We really needed this. This a great win for our whole team and especially all my Mac Tools guys, and Rahn (Tobler, first-year co-crew chief on the Mac Tools dragster) gets his first win with us after making the best run ever. It's just awesome.
"I knew we were going to have to put up a big number against Bernstein, but making that kind of run in the finals is incredible. We went for it and got it. That's a tribute to how good Rahn and Connie and everybody on this whole team is."
Doug defeated defending Top Fuel champ Larry Dixon in round one. It was his fourth time in five attempts taking out Dixon this season. In the second round, Doug got a lucky break when his Mac Tools machine lost traction but got the win after his opponent Cory McClenathan left the starting line too soon and was disqualified. In the semifinals, Doug used an impressive 4.465-sec., 332.10-mph run to defeat Scott Weis (4.566 sec., 327.66 mph) to reach his 35th career final round.
Doug's teammate Scott Kalitta in the radically painted and fan-favorite Mac Tools/Jesse James race car defeated Brady Kalivoda in the opening round, but lost to current points leader Tony Schumacher in the second round after almost flipping his rail in a near blow over. Scott had to lift off of the throttle to set his Connie-tuned car back down and could not recover to challenge Schumacher for the win. Scott did however move up from ninth to eighth in championship points. He entered Sunday's final eliminations from the No. 2 qualifying slot.
After qualifying No.1 for the fourth time this season (Phoenix, Gainesville, Atlanta), Kalitta Air Top Fuel dragster pilot David Grubnic, like Scott, also advanced to the quarter-final round and advanced one points position. Grubnic drove his jet black dragster into the second round after defeating Mike Strasburg in round one. In round two, Grubnic, a native of Brisbane, Australia, lost a heart-breaking race to Weis. Grubnic's 4.525-sec. lap was quicker than Weis's 4.545-sec. run, but Weis left the starting line a little sooner to pick up a hole shot win of about four feet over the likeable Aussie. Grubnic moved from fifth to fourth in Top Fuel points.