Doug Kalitta gets early birthday gift with Brainerd win Brainerd, Minn., Aug. 17, 2003 -- On Wednesday, Mac Tools/Kalitta Motorsports Top Fuel dragster driver will celebrate his 39th birthday. Sunday in Brainerd, Minn. at the Lucas Oil NHRA ...
Doug Kalitta gets early birthday gift with Brainerd win
Brainerd, Minn., Aug. 17, 2003 -- On Wednesday, Mac Tools/Kalitta Motorsports Top Fuel dragster driver will celebrate his 39th birthday. Sunday in Brainerd, Minn. at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals he started the celebration early with winning the Wally (trophy) by defeating Tony Schumacher in a great final round that saw both drivers run the quarter mile in 4.698 seconds, but Kalitta's better starting line reaction time turned the win light on in his lane.
The win at Brainerd Int'l Raceway is the fourth in 2003 for Kalitta and his Mac Tools team and the 15th win of his career. It also marks his fourth final round appearance in the last five NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series national events for the team. Kalitta's last victory was in June at St. Louis.
Kalitta's journey to the winner's circle began with a first round win over Josh Starcher and a second round win over Doug Herbert.
In the semi-final round, Kalitta faced off against Kenny Bernstein. Kalitta and Bernstein had rolled to the starting line together two times previously in final eliminations this season (Topeka semifinals, Seattle semifinals), with Kalitta winning both. Kalitta (4.723 sec., 309.27 mph) proved why he is widely considered one of the best Top Fuel drivers by beating Bernstein (4.706 sec., 310.98 mph) on a holeshot with a .065 sec. reaction time to Bernstein's .086.
Kalitta's final round battle with Schumacher was a rematch of the 2000 Brainerd final. Schumacher got the best of Kalitta that day, but it is the only time he has ever beaten Kalitta in their five career final round pairings, including Sunday.
The win helps Kalitta close the points gap between himself and Top Fuel championship points leader Larry Dixon, who was defeated in the semifinals by Schumacher. With seven events remaining in the season, second place Kalitta trails Dixon by 271 points.
"This was a big win for our Mac Tools team," Kalitta said. "It is a great birthday gift. We are still in the championship hunt. Dixon and those guys are going to be really tough to catch, but if anyone can do it, Connie (Kalitta, crew chief) can."
Doug Kalitta Power Points
Career event wins: 15 Last event win: 2003 Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, Brainerd
Career final rounds: 32 Last final round: 2003 Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, Brainerd
Career No. 1 qualifying: 15 Last No. 1 qualifying: 2003 FRAM -- Autolite NHRA Nationals, Sonoma
Career best elapsed time: 4.481 seconds (2003 K&N Filters NHRA SuperNationals)
Career best speed: 333.91 mph* (2003 NHRA O'Reilly Spring Nationals, Houston)
After 16 of 23 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series national events in 2003, Kalitta is 2nd in Top Fuel championship points.
Fastest speed in NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series history