Brainerd: Kalitta Motorsports preview

NHRA's Team Kalitta poised for three-car assault on 2005 Top Fuel points battle beginning in Brainerd Brainerd, Minn., Aug. 10, 2005 - Top Fuel dragster drivers Doug Kalitta, "Aussie Dave" Grubnic and Scott Kalitta are in three very ...

NHRA's Team Kalitta poised for three-car assault on 2005 Top Fuel points battle beginning in Brainerd

Brainerd, Minn., Aug. 10, 2005 - Top Fuel dragster drivers Doug Kalitta, "Aussie Dave" Grubnic and Scott Kalitta are in three very different positions in the 2005 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series championship points chase. Points leader Doug is trying to stay ahead of his nitro nemeses to win his first drag racing championship, while his Kalitta Motorsports teammate Grubnic sits in fourth, just 187 points out, ready to pounce into the top spot if the opportunity arises. Scott currently lingers in eighth place, but he is determined to improve his mark and join his teammates in the top five. Together, they all have one goal - Win it all for Team Kalitta.

This weekend, Aug. 11-14, at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals in Brainerd, Minn., the three teammates that comprise the NHRA's only full-time, three car Top Fuel dragster team will get their chances to attack the paved quarter-mile track at Brainerd Int'l Raceway and hopefully leave the Land of 10,000 Lakes with their goals closer to fruition.

Points leader Doug, driver of the Mac Tools dragster, won the previous national event two weeks ago in Sonoma, Calif. By doing so, he regained the championship lead by a mere 16 points over Tony Schumacher. Doug had held the lead for half of the 2005 season until relinquishing it to Schumacher at the Denver event, three events ago. Now, Doug looks to Brainerd, where he won the Top Fuel title in 2003, to extend his leading margin.

"It's great to be the leader," Doug said. "The view from the top is always better than the view from behind (laughing).

"Seriously, we want to spread the points gap as much as we can now. All the cars behind us are really strong, so we know we have a tough road ahead of us. This team has always been ready for challenges, so I'm not too worried about us stumbling. We need to just go out there and run the races the way we know how, and hopefully those performances will land us on top when all the dust settles at the end of the season."

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 23 NHRA national event trophies. He has four wins so far in 2005 (Gainesville, Fla., Bristol, Tenn., Atlanta and Sonoma). He also holds the timeslip for the quickest run in NHRA history (4.420 sec. - Chicago 1, 2004).

Zantrex-3 Top Fuel dragster pilot Grubnic likes his team's chances of winning a couple of events down the stretch and challenging his Kalitta teammate and possibly others for the title.

"We're in fourth, but that may end up being a good place to be right now," Grubnic said. "Those teams in front of us will get so worried about beating one another that they may just forget about us. Then, we can sneak in there and take it all away from them.

"We need to go rounds and win at least a couple of races to have a shot at it, but that's certainly within our reach. We've made it to at least the semifinals seven times so far this year. Our car and our team are top notch, so I'm sure we can mix it up with those guys and make things really interesting."

Native Australian Grubnic, 43, 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.

Two-time Top Fuel World Champion (1994-1995) and Doug's cousin Scott, driver of the Mac Tools/Jesse James Top Fueler, finds himself in unfamiliar territory these days. Two wins this season highlight an uncharacteristically unfavorable year for the 24-year drag racing veteran. Besides the two trips to the winner's circle, Scott and his team have managed to win only six elimination rounds.

"We've definitely been feast or famine this year," Scott said. "I wish things would've turned out differently for us up to this point, but I'm really happy for Doug and Dave and where they are right now.

"Our main goal now is to win rounds, win races and help my teammates go for the championship. Realistically, we know we don't have a shot at the top, but we certainly want to get ourselves back in the top five, and we have the tools and the talents on our Mac Tools/Jesse James team to do just that."

Scott, 43, won the opening event of the 2005 season in Pomona, Calif., in February, and took the Top Fuel trophy in Joliet, Ill., in early June. He has 18 (17 Top Fuel, 1 Funny Car) NHRA national event victories in his career.

The Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals begins Friday, Aug. 12, for the Top Fuel class with two qualifying sessions. Two more qualifying sessions follow on Saturday. The top sixteen qualified cars will race Sunday in final eliminations beginning at 11:00 a.m.

The Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals is the 16th of 23 national events in the 2005 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.

About Kalitta Motorsports

Based in Ypsilanti, Michigan, Kalitta Motorsports is the only full-time three-car Top Fuel drag racing team in the NHRA (National Hot Rod Association) POWERade Drag Racing Series. The racing operation was started in 1959 by now legendary drag racer and team owner Connie "the Bounty Hunter" Kalitta. His son Scott Kalitta drives the Mac Tools/Jesse James dragster. Scott's cousin, Connie's nephew, Doug Kalitta drives the flagship dragster for Mac Tools. Native Australian David Grubnic drives the third dragster under the banner of Zantrex-3.

Connie serves as crew chief for all three Team Kalitta entries. He is assisted by co-crew chiefs Rahn Tobler (Mac Tools dragster), Jim Oberhofer (Mac Tools/Jesse James dragster), Jon Oberhofer (Zantrex-3 dragster) and consultant Larry Meyer.

Team Kalitta race cars made seven straight NHRA national event final-round appearances (Las Vegas 1, Bristol, Atlanta, Columbus, Topeka, Chicago 1 and Englishtown) in 2005. Team Kalitta cars have made 10 total final-round appearances with seven wins (Doug - 4, Scott - 2, Grubnic - 1) so far in 2005. Doug was runner-up in Las Vegas 1 and Columbus. Grubnic was runner-up in Englishtown.

Associate sponsors on all three race cars include Red Line Oil, Summit Racing Equipment, Technicoat Companies and Fischer Honda.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Tony Schumacher , Doug Kalitta , David Grubnic , Scott Kalitta , Jim Oberhofer , Jesse James