Brainerd: Kalitta Motorsports preview

Team Kalitta looking to continue momentum at Brainerd NHRA event Brainerd, Minn., Aug. 11, 2004 - Defending Brainerd Top Fuel champ Doug Kalitta, driver of the bright red Mac Tools flagship dragster, is going to this weekend's Lucas Oil NHRA ...

Team Kalitta looking to continue momentum at Brainerd NHRA event

Brainerd, Minn., Aug. 11, 2004 - Defending Brainerd Top Fuel champ Doug Kalitta, driver of the bright red Mac Tools flagship dragster, is going to this weekend's Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd Int'l Raceway, Aug. 12-15, with thoughts of dejà vu and shrinking the already dissipating points lead.

After winning the previous NHRA event in Sonoma, Calif., Doug and his Mac Tools team hope to carry their winning momentum into Brainerd, where they defeated Tony Schumacher in last year's final round (4.698 seconds to 4.698 sec.) due to Doug's better reaction time (.044 sec. to .057 sec.).

Doug, 39, has three victories thus far in the $50 million, 23-event 2004 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series (Chicago 1, St. Louis and Sonoma). He has 18 wins in his seven-year career, and he holds time slips for the quickest (4.420 seconds - Chicago 1, 2004) and fastest (335.57 mph - Las Vegas 1, 2004) runs in NHRA history.

After defeating current championship points leader Schumacher in Sonoma's semifinals, Doug is only 66 points behind the leader. Doug led the points for the first time in his career after the St. Louis event.

"We just need to keep chipping away at it (the points lead)," Doug said. "All we can do is race each round and try to win that round, the rest will have to sort itself out. Our Mac Tools team is more focused than I think I' ve ever seen them. All I have to do is get in the car and do my job and we should be ready to run for the championship."

Doug's cousin and Kalitta Motorsports teammate Scott Kalitta, driver of the Mac Tools/Jesse James Top Fuel hot rod, is hoping for a better outcome in Brainerd than the one he and his team suffered in Sonoma with their first round one loss since the Bristol event in May.

"We need to get back on track," Scott said. "We just missed in Sonoma. It happens. We'll be okay. Our Mac Tools/Jesse James team works harder than any other team out there. Hopefully I can get our car in the Brainerd winner's circle for them."

Scott won the event in Denver just a couple of races ago. It was his first win since returning from a five-year hiatus at least season's Mac Tools U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis and his first since Topeka 1997.

Scott, 42, is fifth in points. He is 340 points off of the lead. He has 16 career NHRA victories (15 Top Fuel, 1 Funny Car).

Doug and Scott's teammate and driver of the third Kalitta Motorsports Top Fuel dragster "Aussie Dave" Grubnic will drive a specially painted Red Line Oil entry in Brainerd in celebration of the California-based company's 25th anniversary. Grubnic will also drive the Red Line Oil decorated race car in Memphis, Chicago and possibly more events.

Grubnic reached the final round in Sonoma as well, his third of 2004 and fifth of the journeyman's Top Fuel career. He is currently fourth in points, 305 off the lead.

In the past four NHRA national events, Kalitta Motorsports' three race cars have made a remarkable six final round appearances.

Team owner and drag racing legend Connie "the Bounty Hunter" Kalitta serves as crew chief for all three Team Kalitta entries. He is Doug's uncle and Scott's dad. He is assisted by co-crew chiefs Rahn Tobler (Mac Tools dragster), Jim Oberhofer (Mac Tools/Jesse James dragster) and Jon Oberhofer (Kalitta Air dragster).

The Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals in Brainerd is the 16th event of the 2004 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.

Qualifying for Sunday's 16-car final eliminations field begins with two sessions Friday for the professional classes and two more again Saturday.

Please visit www.kalittaracing.com for more information about Kalitta Motorsports.

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