Phoenix: Kalitta Motorsports preview

Kalitta Motorsports drivers head to Phoenix with different but similar motivations to take Top Fuel title Chandler, Ariz., March 2, 2004 -- After a good outing for the Kalitta Motorsports Top Fuel dragster team last weekend at the season-opening...

Kalitta Motorsports drivers head to Phoenix with different but similar motivations to take Top Fuel title

Chandler, Ariz., March 2, 2004 -- After a good outing for the Kalitta Motorsports Top Fuel dragster team last weekend at the season-opening Winternationals in Pomona, Calif., their three-car parade of power heads east to the Firebird Int'l Raceway in Chandler, Ariz., just outside of Phoenix, for the 20th Annual Checkers Schuck's Kragen NHRA Nationals March 5-7. They are hoping for a great showing in the second national event of the 23-event, $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series schedule.

Mac Tools dragster driver Doug Kalitta just missed getting the 16th win of his career in Pomona. A mechanical failure during his burnout in the final round has the 2001 Phoenix champ eager to get back on the drag strip. Kalitta entered eliminations as the No.1 qualifier.

"That was really a tough deal last weekend." Kalitta said. "Sometimes it just doesn't go your way."

"All-in-all, it's always a good weekend when you make the finals. It was great for Rahn (Tobler, co-crew chief) to make it that far in his first race with us. We will be ready to put it behind us for good when the race starts in Phoenix."

Doug's cousin, teammate and two-time NHRA Top Fuel World Champion (1994-1995) Scott Kalitta, driver of the Mac Tools/Jesse James, is looking to Phoenix for redemption from an admittedly sub-par performance at the Winternationals. He lost in the opening round after qualifying tenth for the event.

"We didn't do well in Pomona," said Scott. "We had some issues there that we have fixed now, so I am certain we will do a better job in Phoenix. My dad (Connie "the Bounty Hunter" Kalitta, team owner and crew chief) and Jim "O" (Oberhofer, co-crew chief) do a great job with our Mac Tools/Jesse James car. We stumbled, but we won't fall."

The Kalitta cousins' teammate and native Australian David Grubnic, driver of the new Kalitta Air dragster, is barely able to contain his exuberance about one of the greatest races of his career last weekend. The journeyman racer known to fans as "Aussie Dave" posted a career-best elapsed time of 4.492 sec. in the second round. His run for the trophy in Pomona was halted by Doug in the semifinals.

"I was so excited when I got this job," Grubnic said. "Now, I am more stoked than I have ever been in my career. We came very close to getting my first win, so I can't wait to get back out there and try again!"

-km-

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Doug Kalitta , David Grubnic , Scott Kalitta , Jesse James