Richmond: Doug Kalitta preview

Defending Richmond champ Doug Kalitta ready to defend Top Fuel title RICHMOND, Va., (Oct. 8, 2008) -- It's been a calendar year since Doug Kalitta, driver of the "Big Red", Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster, went to the winner's circle as the Top...

Defending Richmond champ Doug Kalitta ready to defend Top Fuel title

RICHMOND, Va., (Oct. 8, 2008) -- It's been a calendar year since Doug Kalitta, driver of the "Big Red", Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster, went to the winner's circle as the Top Fuel titlist in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series. This weekend, Oct. 10-12, Kalitta and the Mac Tools team return to venue of their last victory, Virginia Motorsports Park, in hopes of defending their title and keeping an impressive streak intact at the Virginia NHRA Nationals in Richmond, Va.

Since his inaugural Top Fuel foray in 1998, Kalitta, who has collected 30 Top Fuel trophies in his career, has claimed at least one NHRA national event win in each year of his drag racing tenure. Kalitta has yet to win an event thus far in the 2008 season and, including Richmond, there are only three events remaining to continue his consecutive collection of wins.

"It's hard to believe it's already been a year," Kalitta, a 44-year old resident of Ann Arbor, Mich., said. "You know, about halfway through the season I was pretty frustrated about how we've struggled so much this season, but now our Mac Tools car is running great and we're in contention to go out and win every race. I would like to keep the yearly win streak going, but mostly I just want to put our car back in the winner's circle for our whole team. I know it's been frustrating for the guys at times, too, so getting the win for them and everyone at Kalitta Motorsports is biggest motivation."

Kalitta is in 9th place in POWERade championship points and in the NHRA Countdown to 1 postseason.

Beginning with the 13th event in Denver, the NHRA instituted a new racing distance for the nitro-fueled classes of Funny Car and Top Fuel dragster to 1,000 ft., as opposed to the traditional distance of 1,320 ft., or a quarter of a mile, as a temporary safety solution to help the drivers of the world's quickest and fastest racing safely bring their cars to a stop more efficiently. The unprecedented action, which will be observed for the remainder of the 2008 season, is in response to the tragic death of Kalitta Motorsports' Scott Kalitta, Doug's cousin, who died in a high-speed Funny Car qualifying accident in Englishtown, N.J., June 21.

Doug, unofficially, recorded the quickest 1,000-ft. elapsed time in NHRA history, 3.758 sec., in Joliet, Ill., in 2004.

Since winning the NHRA's equivalent of Rookie of the Year, the Automobile Club of Southern California's Road to the Future Award after the 1998 drag racing season, Doug has driven his dragster to 30 Top Fuel national event titles, which places him in sixth in career wins for the sport's quickest and fastest class. In the past five NHRA seasons, he has solidified his place among the best Top Fuel pilots of all-time. In 2006, he won a career-high five national events in 2006 and led the POWERade points for almost the entire second half of the season. After finishing just 14 points shy of his first NHRA championship, Doug garnered his third career runner-up points finish in 2006. He was also points runner-up in 2003 and 2004. In 2007, he won one event -- the event held in Richmond.

Qualifying for the Virginia NHRA Nationals begins Friday for the Nitro-fueled classes with two qualifying sessions at 2:00 p.m. (ET) and 4:30 p.m. Two more qualifying sessions take place Saturday at 12:30 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. The top 16 qualified cars will race Sunday in final eliminations beginning at 11:00 a.m.

-credit: km

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Series NHRA
Drivers Doug Kalitta , Scott Kalitta