NHRA Top Fuel championship points leader Doug Kalitta extends his lead in Sonoma; Teammates Dave Grubnic and Scott Kalitta make quarter-final appearances SONOMA, Calif., (July 30, 2006) -- Doug Kalitta, driver of the 8,000 horsepower, bright red...
NHRA Top Fuel championship points leader Doug Kalitta extends his lead in Sonoma; Teammates Dave Grubnic and Scott Kalitta make quarter-final appearances
SONOMA, Calif., (July 30, 2006) -- Doug Kalitta, driver of the 8,000 horsepower, bright red Mac Tools flagship Top Fuel dragster, extended his POWERade championship points lead to 82 points by advancing to the semifinals at the Fram Autolite NHRA Nationals at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., Sunday.
Doug, the No. 5 qualifier in Sonoma (4.582 seconds, 326.48 mph) for Sunday's 16-car final eliminations, raced No. 12 qualifier David Baca (4.642 sec., 285.53 mph) in the first round of eliminations. Doug held the lead for the entire race to get the win, 4.796 sec., 298.01 mph to 5.233 sec., 199.82 mph. In round two, the race with his opponent Rod Fuller was much closer. Both drivers struggled to help their dragsters keep traction on the hot and somewhat slippery race track, but in the end Doug crossed the finish line first and used a starting line reaction time advantage (.031 sec. to .074 sec.) to get the holeshot win light, 4.943 sec., 283.25 mph to 4.918 sec., 320.20 mph.
Doug rolled to the starting line to face the Alan Johnson-tuned dragster and its driver in the semifinals. Both race cars made exceptional laps in the hot California heat, but Doug came up just short, approximately seven feet, at the finish line, 4.597 sec., 322.42 mph to 4.585 sec., 326.40 mph.
Doug entered the event in Sonoma with a 40-point lead, but his semi-final appearance coupled with a first-round loss by 2nd place points holder Melanie Troxel helped him widen the points gap to 82.
Doug's four wins this season (Bristol, Tenn., Atlanta, Topeka, Kans., and Chicago) are the most by any driver in Top Fuel, drag racing's quickest and fastest racing class.
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. He has 28 NHRA national event wins in 51 final-round appearances. He 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.
Doug's Kalitta Motorsports Top Fuel teammate Dave Grubnic, driver of the 330-mph, pink and black StriVectin-SD Top Fuel dragster, led the qualifying efforts of Kalitta Motorsports in Sonoma. He qualified for final eliminations in the No. 3 spot (4.554 sec., 331.36 mph). He defeated the No. 14 qualifier Cory McClenathan (4.700 sec., 319.07 mph) in the first round of eliminations in a very close drag race, 4.606 sec., 321.58 mph to 4.699 sec., 315.49 mph.
In the second round, Grubnic faced off against Top Fuel rookie J.R. Todd. Grubnic was in the lead at the half-way point down the quarter-mile and then both dragsters started losing traction. Both drivers tried furiously to get their entries to regain grip but, unfortunately for Grubnic, the blower belt on his dragster failed and that let Todd get around him for the close win, 5.410 sec., 192.25 mph to 5.152 sec., 270.81 mph.
Grubnic's booming 331.36-mph blast in the final qualifying session set a new track record at Infineon Speedway.
Grubnic remains in 5th place in POWERade championship points (881).
In early 2004, Grubnic, a 43-year old 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 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. He also won the prestigious Gatornationals Top Fuel title in March in Gainesville, Fla.
Doug's cousin Scott Kalitta, driving the specially painted Red Line Oil Nitro Funny Car, qualified No. 4 (4.806 sec., 319.14 mph), his highest qualifying position of 2006, for Sunday's eliminations. Scott, the son of team owner, crew chief and drag racing legend Connie Kalitta, raced No. 13 qualifier Gary Scelzi (4.865 sec., 317.64 mph) in the first round of eliminations. In a battle of former POWERade world champs, Scott picked up his third elimination round-win of 2006 by defeating Scelzi, 5.055 sec., 301.60 mph to 5.497 sec., 205.01 mph.
In round two, Scott's race car lost traction very early in the lap and that let his opponent Tony Pedregon cruise to an easy win, 9.070 sec., 94.73 mph to 4.909 sec., 311.34 mph.
This weekend's event in Sonoma was the third and final event of the NHRA's Western Swing (Denver, Seattle, and Sonoma) and the Kalitta Motorsports Associate Sponsor Appreciation Swing. Scott's flopper was adorned with primary sponsorship for Red Line Oil for the event at Infineon Raceway.
Scott, a 43-year old resident of Palmetto, Fla., and 25-year drag racing veteran, made the switch from Top Fuel to Funny Car this season. Scott has one NHRA national event win in his career in nitro Funny Car and that was at the Houston event in 1989 while driving with a broken left foot. In Top Fuel, Scott scored two world championships (1994-1995) and 17 NHRA national event wins.
Rookie Top Fueler Hillary Will, driving the Kalitta Motorsports-managed, Ken Black-owned dragster, qualified in the No. 7 position. She defeated Troxel in round one and Larry Dixon in round two. In the semifinals, Will was defeated by Todd.
The Fram Autolite NHRA Nationals was the 15th of 23 national events in the 2006 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.