Pomona: Kalitta Racing final report

Doug Kalitta wins 2009 NHRA Top Fuel opener in Pomona POMONA, Calif., (Feb. 10, 2009) -- Doug Kalitta, driver of the bright yellow, 8,000-horsepower Kalitta Motorsports Top Fuel dragster, claimed the first Top Fuel crown of 2009 during final ...

Doug Kalitta wins 2009 NHRA Top Fuel opener in Pomona

POMONA, Calif., (Feb. 10, 2009) -- Doug Kalitta, driver of the bright yellow, 8,000-horsepower Kalitta Motorsports Top Fuel dragster, claimed the first Top Fuel crown of 2009 during final eliminations of the season-opening NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event, the Kragen O'Reilly NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona (Calif.), Tuesday. Incessant rain in Southern California over the past several days prolonged the event's eliminations for two days.

Kalitta, the No. 11 qualifier (4.016 seconds) in the 16-car eliminations field, defeated Urs Erbacher, Cory McClenathan and Morgan Lucas en route to the 56th final round of his career. In the final, Kalitta defeated Antron Brown in a terrific side-by-side lap, 3.822 sec., 308.57 mph to 3.847 sec., 307.16 mph.

The win at the Winternationals marks the 31st Top Fuel event win for the 12-year drag racing veteran. His previous win was at the event in Richmond, Va., in the fall of 2007. His previous final-round appearance was at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis last September. The win in Pomona is an emotional one for Kalitta and his Kalitta Motorsports team, led by Doug's uncle and drag racing legend Connie "the Bounty Hunter" Kalitta. It's the first time the team has visited the winner's circle since the tragic death of Connie's son and Doug's cousin, Scott Kalitta, in a Funny Car racing accident in New Jersey last June.

"This is a tremendous win for me and the whole team," Doug, a 44-year old resident of Ann Arbor, Mich., said. "I've always wanted to win here in Pomona, more so than a lot of other tracks. Pomona is a legendary and historic track, and it means so much to me that now me, Connie and Scott have all won the Winternationals."

Connie took home his Winternationals Top Fuel trophy in 1967, while son Scott got his Winternationals "Wally" in 2005 when he also won the event in the Top Fuel class. Ironically, the cockpit section of Doug's winning rail today is the same cockpit section of the race car chassis that Scott drove to his win in Pomona four years ago.

Doug's dragster begins the 2009 championship campaign without a primary sponsor. Although the car will not initially be adorned with the signage of a primary backer, it is decorated with large, special-edition "50 years of Connie Kalitta" decals near the cockpit on each side of the car.

In 2009, Kalitta Motorsports is celebrating 50 years of drag racing by team owner and drag racing icon Connie. Over the past 50 years, Connie, who has been involved in the sport as a driver, tuner, and as an owner, has dedicated unequalled amounts of time and resources to building one of the most successful teams in the history of auto racing. Kalitta Motorsports has won five world championships and over 50 national event titles in five different drag racing sanctioning bodies since it was established by Connie in 1959.

"What a great way to kick off the celebration of Connie's 50 years with a win," Doug continued. "Connie is the whole reason we get to go out and have fun racing our cars."

Jim Oberhofer, a 22-year Team Kalitta veteran, is serving as crew chief on the Doug-driven, nitro-fueled Top Fueler with Troy Fasching assuming the duties of assistant crew chief for the 2009 season.

Doug's Kalitta Motorsports teammate Jeff Arend, driver of the DHL Toyota Solara Funny Car, was defeated in the opening round of eliminations of the Funny Car class.

Arend, a 46-year old resident of San Dimas, Calif., qualified his nitro-fueled coupe in the No. 10 spot (4.222 sec.). His chances of picking up his second career win were ended by Gary Densham in the opening stanza, 4.736 sec., 188.25 mph to 4.336 sec., 283.37 mph.

The Kragen O'Reilly NHRA Winternationals was the 1st of 24 national events in the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series.

-credit: km

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Series NHRA
Drivers Antron Brown , Doug Kalitta , Gary Densham , Cory McClenathan , Scott Kalitta , Morgan Lucas , Jim Oberhofer , Jeff Arend , Connie Kalitta , Urs Erbacher