Joliet: Kalitta Motorsports preview

Team Kalitta set to build on past success in Chicago JOLIET, Ill., (June 4, 2009) -- Kalitta Motorsports teammates Doug Kalitta, driver of the No. 50 Kalitta Motorsports Top Fuel dragster, and Jeff Arend, driver of the DHL Toyota Solara Funny...

Team Kalitta set to build on past success in Chicago

JOLIET, Ill., (June 4, 2009) -- Kalitta Motorsports teammates Doug Kalitta, driver of the No. 50 Kalitta Motorsports Top Fuel dragster, and Jeff Arend, driver of the DHL Toyota Solara Funny Car, are both looking to the past as the potential for a winning performance this weekend, June 5-7, at the annual running of the United Association Route 66 NHRA Nationals at record-setting Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Ill., just a few miles southwest of the Chicago city limits.

Kalitta has taken home the Top Fuel title trophy from Joliet three times (2006, 2004 and the fall event in 2002). He has one event win in 2009, the season-opening Winternationals in Pomona, Calif.

"We've definitely had some good days at Route 66," Kalitta, a 44-year old resident of Ann Arbor, Mich., and 31-time Top Fuel event champion, said. "Back when we ran a quarter-mile, we got the quickest time slip in the history of the NHRA with that 4.420 in the '04 final. That's one of those runs that always stays in your head.

"We feel really good about our chances of winning this year, too. The track at Route 66 is always great and the weather for the event is looking good for our tune-up, so we're excited about trying for our fourth win in Joliet this weekend."

Kalitta's nitro cohort, Arend, is hopeful for a trip to the winner's circle at Route 66 based upon another precedent.

"This event is going to be very special for me and the DHL team," native Canadian Arend, a 46-year old resident of San Dimas, Calif., said. "Last year at Route 66, Scott [Kalitta] went to, what turned out to be, his last final round. We sure would like to take it one step further this year in Joliet and get that trophy for Scott.

"Our DHL Funny Car just keeps getting better and better as the year goes on. We keep making small changes and getting closer to where we need to be from a performance end. We know we have the horsepower. Connie (Kalitta, team owner and head tuner) is legendary for making big horsepower, so once we get the right combination of motor and clutch working together, we're going to be a front runner every week."

Arend joined Kalitta Motorsports in August of last year to assume the driving duties of the DHL Funny Car entry after the tragic death of Scott as the result of injuries he suffered in a racing accident last June. Arend has one NHRA Funny Car national event win to his credit -- Reading, Pa., 1996. He is married to Windy, and they have a daughter, Jenna, 9.

In 2009, Kalitta Motorsports is celebrating 50 years of drag racing by team owner and drag racing legend Connie "the Bounty Hunter" Kalitta, Scott's father and Doug's uncle. Over the past 50 years, Connie, who has been involved in the sport as a driver, tuner, and as an owner, has dedicated unequalled amounts of time and resources to building one of the most successful teams in the history of auto racing. Kalitta Motorsports has won five world championships and over 50 national event titles in five different drag racing sanctioning bodies since it was established by Connie in 1959.

The United Association Route 66 NHRA Nationals begins Friday for the nitro-fueled classes with two qualifying sessions at 3:30 p.m. (CT) and 7:00 p.m. Two more qualifying opportunities take place Saturday at 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. The top sixteen qualified cars in each pro class will race Sunday in final eliminations beginning at 11:00 a.m.

All times and dates subject to change.

The United Association Route 66 NHRA Nationals is the 10th of 24 national events in the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series.

-credit: km

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Series NHRA
Drivers Jeff Arend