Pomona: Kalitta Motorsports Saturday summary

Doug Kalitta qualifies No. 2 at season-opening NHRA event in Pomona; Teammate Dave Grubnic qualifies No. 15 in Top Fuel while teammate Scott Kalitta fails to qualify in Funny Car Pomona, Calif., (Feb. 11, 2006) -- Doug Kalitta, driver of the ...

Doug Kalitta qualifies No. 2 at season-opening NHRA event in Pomona; Teammate Dave Grubnic qualifies No. 15 in Top Fuel while teammate Scott Kalitta fails to qualify in Funny Car

Pomona, Calif., (Feb. 11, 2006) -- Doug Kalitta, driver of the bright red, 7,000 horsepower Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster and winner of 24 NHRA national events throughout his career, started the 2006 23-event POWERade Drag Racing Series by qualifying in the No. 2 position for Sunday's 16-car final eliminations field at the CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals at the Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, Feb. 9-12, in Pomona, Calif.

Doug's Kalitta Motorsports Top Fuel teammate Dave Grubnic enters final eliminations in the No. 15 qualifying spot. Former Top Fuel pilot and two-time NHRA Top Fuel World Champion Scott Kalitta unfortunately was unable to qualify his new Kalitta Air Funny Car into Sunday's final eliminations field, which is the quickest Funny Car eliminations field in NHRA history.

Doug and his Mac Tools crew made their best qualifying effort in Saturday's final qualifying session with a 4.500-sec., 326.95-mph blast down the drag strip at the famed Auto Club Raceway at Pomona to land in the No. 2 spot. Unfortunately, Doug will have to race his teammate and No. 15 qualifier Dave Grubnic (4.637 sec., 308.99 mph), driver of the pink and black StriVectin-SD Top Fueler, in the first round of eliminations.

"It's a great effort by my Mac Tools team," Doug said. "Our car just seems to be getting better and better.

"This is not the way I wanted to start the year though -- Racing my teammate in the first round. Sometimes that's going to happen when you run a multi-car team, but we'll just go up there and race them just like we would against anyone else and do our best to beat them."

Doug, 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. Doug is now 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.

"I'm glad we got in, but it really stinks to be running our teammate in the first round," Grubnic said. "I'm quite disappointed to be quite honest. We had some great numbers in [pre-season] testing, but for some reason it's not carrying over to Pomona.

"My StriVectin-SD team is one of the best out there, and I know Connie (Kalitta, team owner and crew chief) and Jon (Oberhofer, co-crew chief) will get everything figured out. We'll be okay."

In early 2003, Grubnic, a 43-year old native Australian and resident of Ennis, Mont., was hired to drive for Kalitta Motorsports after several years of driving for teams with minimal funding. Since joining Team Kalitta, Grubnic, now in his 12th season as a Top Fuel driver, has posted consecutive top-five championship points finishes. In 2004, he won the lucrative and coveted Budweiser Shootout in Las Vegas, becoming only the fourth driver in the special event's 20-year history to win its $100,000 prize in his first attempt, and he picked up an emotional and long overdue first NHRA national event win in May, 2005 in Topeka, Kans., to become the first non-native North American to win a Top Fuel trophy.

Scott Kalitta, driving his new Kalitta Air Funny Car flopper, was able to muster a weekend-best 4.912-sec., 313.37-mph lap in the fourth and final qualifying session Saturday, but it wasn't enough to break into the NHRA's quickest Funny Car field ever with a 4.807-sec. bump spot.

"My guys are working really hard to get our program going, and I feel more badly for them than I do myself," Scott, a 43-year old resident of Palmetto, Fla., said. "We knew it was going to be tough switching over to Funny Car. We'll get it all straightened out and be ready to go for Phoenix (NHRA's next national event).

Rookie Top Fueler Hillary Will, driving the Kalitta Motorsports-managed, Ken Black-owned dragster, qualified in the No. 4 position.

Sunday's final eliminations at the CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals begins in at 11:00 a.m.

All times and dates subject to change.

The CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals is the 1st of 23 national events in the 2006 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.

-km-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Doug Kalitta , Scott Kalitta , Hillary Will , Ken Black