Sonoma: Doug Kalitta preview

NHRA Top Fuel championship points leader Doug Kalitta looking to extend points lead with third consecutive win at Sonoma SONOMA, Calif., (July 25, 2006) -- To say that Top Fuel POWERade championship points leader Doug Kalitta, driver of "Big...

NHRA Top Fuel championship points leader Doug Kalitta looking to extend points lead with third consecutive win at Sonoma

SONOMA, Calif., (July 25, 2006) -- To say that Top Fuel POWERade championship points leader Doug Kalitta, driver of "Big Red", the 8,000 horsepower Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster, likes racing at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., is like saying that a 330-mph Top Fuel dragster is kind of fast.

This weekend's, July 28-30, Fram Autolite NHRA Nationals has been circled on Kalitta's calender since the 2006 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series began in February. Kalitta and his Mac Tools team, led by crew chief Rahn Tobler, certainly have an affinity for Infineon Raceway, and they should because they have been to the winner's circle there a Top Fuel-record five times, including the previous two seasons. They also won in Sonoma in 2000, 1999 and 1998.

"We've had some really good runs in Sonoma," Kalitta said. "It's definitely one of my favorite tracks. I wish I could say why we always do so well there, but I guess it's just one of those things that you can't explain. Three in a row would be a great accomplishment for our team. I hope we can get it done.

"Our main goal now for Sonoma and beyond is to be consistent and put ourselves in position to win [elimination] rounds. If we can do that, we'll stay near or at the top of the points and put ourselves in position to win it all. That's the big picture."

Kalitta and his team lead the POWERade Top Fuel championship points by only 40 points over second place holder Melanie Troxel, who had held the lead for the entire 2006 season until Kalitta took over the top spot two weeks ago in Denver.

Kalitta and NASCAR's Jeff Gordon also have a unique tie-in with Infineon Raceway. Each year that Kalitta has won the Fram Autolite NHRA Nationals on Infineon's paved quarter-mile drag strip, Gordon has won his series' event on the property's road coarse for the race cars that turn except once. Kalitta is hoping that the winning link regains it strength and continues this year as Gordon won again at Infineon last month.

"That Jeff Gordon thing is cool," Kalitta said. "Last year he didn't hold up his end of the bargain though. We won but he didn't. Hopefully we'll hold up our end this year and get the streak back on track."

Kalitta leads Top Fuel, the NHRA's quickest and fastest racing class, with four wins in 2006 and has climbed from 9th to 1st place in POWERade points since April. His spot atop the points marks only the third time that he has led the championship points in his career.

The Fram Autolite NHRA Nationals is the 15th of 23 national events in the 2006 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.

-km

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Series NHRA
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Doug Kalitta , Melanie Troxel