Top Fuel points leader Doug Kalitta celebrates belated birthday with win at weather-extended Memphis NHRA event MILLINGTON, Tenn., (Aug. 21, 2006) -- On the day after his 42nd birthday, Doug Kalitta, driver of "Big Red", the 8,000-horsepower ...
Top Fuel points leader Doug Kalitta celebrates belated birthday with win at weather-extended Memphis NHRA event
MILLINGTON, Tenn., (Aug. 21, 2006) -- On the day after his 42nd birthday, Doug Kalitta, driver of "Big Red", the 8,000-horsepower Mac Tools flagship Top Fuel dragster, picked up his fifth NHRA national event win of 2006 Monday by winning the rain-delayed O'Reilly Mid-South Nationals at Memphis Motorsports Park in Millington, Tenn.
Final eliminations at the Memphis event were halted Sunday due to rain and were resumed Monday with the quarterfinal-round of Top Fuel beginning at 9:00 a.m. (CT). Kalitta, the No. 10 qualifier (4.678 seconds, 297.16 mph) won his opening round race Sunday with Cory McClenathan, 4.860 sec., 283.73 mph to 5.149 sec., 271.62 mph.
When the action continued today, Kalitta, the POWERade points leader, rolled to the starting line for a pivotal match-up against second place points-holder Tony Schumacher. In an extremely close drag race down the quarter-mile, Doug was able to pick up the important round win with a holeshot victory over Schumacher, 4.599 sec., 312.86 to 4.592 sec., 323.58 mph. Doug's .028-second starting line advantage propelled him to the win, his seventh holeshot victory in 2006.
In the semifinals, Kalitta had yet another tough match up with the third place points-holder Brandon Bernstein. Bernstein's race car had mechanical problems from the start of the race on, but Kalitta still posted an impressive 4.631-sec., 315.93-mph charge to get the win light against Bernstein's 4.874-sec., 310.05-mph effort to set up a final-round duel with his Team Kalitta teammate and rookie Top Fuel pilot Hillary Will.
The final-round race gave the loyal fans that returned to Memphis Motorsports Park Monday a thrilling end to the weekend's competition. Doug narrowly got the win over his youthful teammate, 4.604 sec., 313.95 mph to 4.644 sec., 312.13 mph, in an exciting side-by-side race. The margin of victory was approximately six feet at the finish line. Kalitta is now 5-0 in final rounds in 2006.
"I can't say enough about my Mac Tools team today," Doug said. "We really had no idea what to expect today because of the rain, so for Rahn (Tobler, crew chief) and the guys to get us into the winner's circle here in Memphis is truly awesome. This is a big win for us. They're all big, but we had never won here and now we can hopefully build on this momentum going into the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals in a couple of weeks."
Kalitta leads Top Fuel, the NHRA's quickest and fastest racing class, with five wins in 2006, which also ties his career-best season win total from last season. He now leads the NHRA POWERade championship points by 136.
Kalitta, 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 now has 29 NHRA national event wins in 52 final-round appearances. He is 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.
Doug's Kalitta Motorsports Top Fuel teammate Dave Grubnic, driver of the pink and black StriVectin-SD Top Fuel dragster, qualified for eliminations in the No. 12 spot, 4.686 sec., 310.34 mph. He faced off against the No. 5 qualifier Scott Palmer (4.642 sec., 308.92 mph) in round one. Grubnic's rail mount charged off the starting line very aggressively, but lost traction soon thereafter. Grubnic fought to get his nitro-fueled entry to regain its footing, but unfortunately he was unable to do so and became a spectator to Palmer's win, 5.658 sec., 250.23 mph to 5.044 sec., 251.25 mph.
Grubnic remains in 5th place in POWERade championship points (966).
The O'Reilly Mid-South Nationals was the 17th of 23 national events in the 2006 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.