Memphis: Doug Kalitta preview

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NHRA Top Fuel championship points leader Doug Kalitta hopes to celebrate birthday with Memphis win MEMPHIS, Tenn., (Aug. 15, 2006) -- Before Elvis changed the sound of music forever, the future King of Rock n' Roll probably once strolled ...

NHRA Top Fuel championship points leader Doug Kalitta hopes to celebrate birthday with Memphis win

MEMPHIS, Tenn., (Aug. 15, 2006) -- Before Elvis changed the sound of music forever, the future King of Rock n' Roll probably once strolled down world-famous Beale St. in Memphis with a guitar draped across his back, a song on his lips and a dream of screaming fans clamoring to hear his soulful croons. This weekend, Aug. 18-20, a few miles north of Beale's bricks in Millington, Tenn., Doug Kalitta, driver of the 8,000-horsepower Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster, and the rest of the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series will make their annual tour stop at the drag strip at Memphis Motorsports Park for the O'Reilly Mid-South Nationals. Kalitta, the MMP Speed King (327.90 mph, Sept. 2003), is hoping to hear his name announced over the public address system as the Top Fuel titlist on his 42nd birthday Sunday after four thundering quarter-mile "strolls" in pursuit of his life-long dream -- Being crowned as the NHRA Top Fuel World Champion.

"A win in Memphis would sure go a long way," Kalitta said. "The points are really close, and there are four or five cars that could get up to the top very quickly. I've never won in Memphis, so now would be a great time to get our first Wally (trophy) there."

Doug also commented on his upcoming birthday this Sunday, Aug. 20. "Well, to be honest, I'm not all that excited about trying to blow out 42 candles. Hopefully we'll get the win and I can just douse the cake with POWERade."

Kalitta holds an 81-point lead in POWERade Top Fuel championship points with seven races remaining on the 2006 schedule.

Earlier this season, Kalitta won back-to-back events in Bristol, Tenn., and Atlanta and then consecutively won again at events in Topeka, Kans., and Chicago. Kalitta leads Top Fuel, the NHRA's quickest and fastest racing class, with four wins in 2006.

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 is now in his ninth season in NHRA Top Fuel drag racing and has 28 career Top Fuel victories in 51 final-round appearances. Before joining the quarter-mile set, Kalitta raced in open-wheel competition and won the 1994 USAC National Sprint Car Championship. He is also the owner and president of Kalitta Charters, a charter airline service based at Willow Run Airport in Ypsilanti, Mich., alongside Kalitta Air, an airline freight service owned by his uncle, race team owner, and drag racing legend Connie Kalitta.

The O'Reilly Mid-South Nationals begins Friday, Aug. 18, for the Top Fuel class with two qualifying sessions at 5:30 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. (CT). Two more qualifying sessions follow on Saturday at 3:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.

The top sixteen qualified cars will race Sunday in final eliminations beginning at 3:00 p.m.

All times and dates subject to change.

The O'Reilly Mid-South Nationals is the 17th of 23 national events in the 2006 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.

-credit: km

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