Doug Kalitta flirts with disaster in Phoenix qualifying
Chandler, Ariz., (Feb. 25, 2006) -- During Friday's second qualifying attempt at the Checker Schuck's Kragen NHRA Nationals last night at Firebird Int'l Raceway in Chandler, Ariz., just outside of Phoenix, Doug Kalitta had a close call with a possibly disastrous scenario when the rear wing of his 7,000 horsepower Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster was clipped and severely damaged near the finish line during Kalitta's 4.525-second, 321.96-mph lap.
"It was a cause and effect deal," crew chief Rahn Tobler said. "The car moved out of the groove and started spinning the tires. Since NHRA requires rev limiters on our cars, the motor hit the limiter and that really messed up the timing. Then it dropped a cylinder and that caused the blower belt to kick off. The blower belt then hit the wing and caused the damage.
"Top Fuel dragsters depend on the rear wing for traction and stability. When that system fails, bad things can happen. We're all just very relieved it held together enough for Doug to get the car safely stopped."
Kalitta is thankful that the NHRA requires strict safety guidelines on every piece and part of every race car in competition.
"It's a scary deal," Kalitta, a 41-year old resident of Ann Arbor, Mich., said. "I didn't see how bad it was it until we got the car back into the pits under the lights.
"We're lucky the spill plate stayed on. If it would've come off, it could have gotten really ugly. I was going over 300 mph when that happened."