Doug Kalitta goes to semifinals in Seattle; Teammates Scott Kalitta and "Aussie Dave" Grubnic make quarter-final appearances Kent, Wash., July 24, 2005 -- With majestic Mt. Rainier overlooking the action at the CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals...
Doug Kalitta goes to semifinals in Seattle; Teammates Scott Kalitta and "Aussie Dave" Grubnic make quarter-final appearances
Kent, Wash., July 24, 2005 -- With majestic Mt. Rainier overlooking the action at the CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals in Kent, Wash., just outside of downtown Seattle, Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster driver Doug Kalitta made his eighth semifinal or better performance of the 2005 NHRA season Sunday.
The opening round of the 16-car final eliminations was a 3-0 sweep for Team Kalitta. No. 5 qualifier Doug got by Melanie Troxel, 4.566 seconds, 325.14 mph to 4.612 sec., 316.23 mph, to get the win. Mac Tools/Jesse James Top Fuel pilot Scott Kalitta also had a close race with his opening round opponent Doug Herbert, 4.581 sec., 324.28 mph to 4.673 sec., 316.38 mph, but Scott, the No. 6 qualifier, took the win to beat the rival tool-sponsored race car. No. 7 qualifier "Aussie Dave" Grubnic, driver of the Zantrex-3 supported Top Fuel rail, got the third win of the first round for Kalitta Motorsports in yet another closely contested quarter-mile duel. Grubnic defeated Jack Beckman, 4.584 sec., 295.53 mph to 4.638 sec., 322.65 mph.
In round two, Doug had a much easier task in beating David Baca. Doug drilled Baca on the starting line reaction timers (.066 sec. to .111 sec.) and never wavered to cruise past Baca, 4.603 sec., 321.35 mph to 9.001 sec., 76.81 mph, into the semifinals.
Unfortunately for Team Kalitta, round two also saw the other two of the team's Top Fuelers lose their respective races. Scott was a tad too anxious in his race with Morgan Lucas and fouled on the starting line with a rare red light start which gave Lucas the automatic win. Scott last saw red in 1997 in the semifinals in Englishtown, N.J. Grubnic had a much better starting line performance in his race against defending Top Fuel champion Tony Schumacher (.067 sec. to .083 sec.), but it was not enough. Grubnic's 7,000 horsepower Zantrex-3 dragster lost traction early the run to let Schumacher advance, 5.646 sec., 194.55 mph to 4.546 sec., 326.63 mph.
"You go out there and run 'em and hope for the best," Grubnic, who is now 3-1 this season versus the championship points leader Schumacher, said. "This time they got the best of us, but next time we race them, you better believe it'll be a good battle. They, and all the cars in front of us in points, better be ready to fight this thing out all the way to the final race, because we're ready and able to get by all of them and take the championship."
Native Australian Grubnic, 42, the $100,000 Budweiser Shootout special event winner last fall in Las Vegas, made history May 29th in Topeka, Kans., by becoming the first non-North American to win an NHRA Top Fuel national event. The win in Topeka was Grubnic's first in his 11-year career.
Grubnic remains in fourth place in championship points, only 125 points behind the leader, and merely 17 points out of third place.
Two-time Top Fuel World Champion (1994-1995) Scott, 43, won the opening event of the 2005 season in Pomona, Calif., in February, and took the trophy again last month in Joliet, Ill. He remains seventh in championship points. He has 18 (17 Top Fuel, 1 Funny Car) NHRA national event victories in his 24-year career.
Doug rolled to the starting line against eventual event winner Brandon Bernstein in the semifinals. Like his teammate Grubnic in the quarterfinals, Doug's Mac Tools dragster also had traction problems, and he relinquished the round to Bernstein, 5.486 sec., 257.68 mph to 4.621 sec., 325.30 mph.
"It's terribly disappointing," Doug said. "I'm happy we got to go a few rounds though. We had only been to the semis once in the past five races until today, so maybe now we'll get things turned back around and challenge even harder for the championship."
Doug, currently in second place in championship points, only trailed leader Schumacher by 23 points going into Sunday's eliminations, but with Schumacher's final-round showing in Seattle, Doug sits in the No. 2 spot trailing Schumacher by 43. Doug had held the points lead from the sixth event in Bristol, Tenn., until the previous event, the 12th, in Denver.
Two-time Top Fuel championship points runner-up (2003-2004) Doug, 40, is an eight-year Top Fuel veteran and former USAC National Sprint Car Champion (1994). He owns 22 NHRA national event trophies. He has three wins so far in 2005 (Gainesville, Fla., Bristol and Atlanta).
The CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals was the 14th of 23 national events in the 2005 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.