Doug Kalitta wins in Bristol and takes over Top Fuel points lead; Teammates "Aussie Dave" Grubnic and Scott Kalitta suffer early-round losses Bristol, Tenn., May 1, 2005 -- Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster driver Doug Kalitta won his second NHRA ...
Doug Kalitta wins in Bristol and takes over Top Fuel points lead; Teammates "Aussie Dave" Grubnic and Scott Kalitta suffer early-round losses
Bristol, Tenn., May 1, 2005 -- Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster driver Doug Kalitta won his second NHRA national event of 2005 Sunday at the O'Reilly NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway in Bristol, Tenn. While getting the 21st victory of his career, Doug also took over the Top Fuel championship points lead from rival Tony Schumacher. It is only the second time in his drag racing career that Doug has been atop the points listing. He also led the points after the St. Louis event of 2004 until that year's Denver event.
In the opening round of Sunday's final eliminations, Doug was given a "free" win when his opponent Bruce Litton left the starting line early and red-lit. Doug lost traction early in the gift round and crossed the finish line with a normally dreadful 6.873-second, 148.05-mph posting. In the second round, Doug (4.678 sec., 302.14 mph) was again the benefactor of a red-light start by his teammate and round foe "Aussie Dave" Grubnic.
In the semifinals, Doug breezed past Scott Palmer, 4.567 sec., 322.88 mph to 7.194 sec., 122.97 mph. The lap was Doug's best of the weekend.
In his third final round of 2005 (Gainesville and Las Vegas 1), Doug faced first-time Top Fuel finalist Rod Fuller. In a great side-by-side race, Doug's reaction time on the starting line helped him barely edge past Fuller at the finish line with a holeshot win, 4.593 sec., 322.50 mph to 4.588 sec., 327.35 mph. The margin of victory was 0.0054 seconds (approximately 3 feet).
"What a final," Kalitta said. "I was a little concerned because I like to go in pretty deep when I stage in a final, but this time the first bite was more than usual so I didn't try for any more. It's always good to win on a holeshot, but to do it when I was probably shallow, is really something.
"I usually don't look at the points during a race. I save that for during the week. But I knew Tony went out in round one, and I knew we had better do all we can to take advantage of the situation because they don't give you many chances. They're a really tough team over there."
Two-time Top Fuel championship points runner-up (2003-2004) Doug Kalitta, 40, qualified No. 6 (4.664 sec., 316.60 mph) in Bristol's rain-shortened qualifying of one run on Saturday.
Doug, 40, an eight-year Top Fuel veteran and former USAC National Sprint Car Champion (1994), also won the Mac Tools Gatornationals in March in Gainesville, Fla. 2005 is Doug's second win in Bristol's Thunder Valley. He also won in Bristol in 2001. His last final-round appearance was at the previous NHRA event in Las Vegas two weeks ago.
Zantrex-3 dragster driver Grubnic, 42, the $100,000 Budweiser Shootout special event winner last fall in Las Vegas, qualified a Kalitta Motorsports-best No. 3 (4.619 seconds, 318.09 mph). He defeated a tire-smoking Schumacher in round one (5.248 sec., 260.26 mph to 6.488 sec., 179.18 mph). In round two, Grubnic was a little impatient on the starting line against teammate Doug and red-lit his way out of competition.
Native Australian Grubnic has made seven final-round appearances in his 11-year career but has not yet won an NHRA national event. He moves up one position to fifth place in Top Fuel championship points. He trails fourth place points holder Morgan Lucas by only four points. He is 108 points off of the lead.
Two-time Top Fuel World Champion (1994-1995) Scott Kalitta, 43, driver of the Mac Tools/Jesse James Top Fuel dragster, qualified No. 4 (4.639 sec., 325.92 mph). He surprisingly lost a first-round battle with No. 13 qualifier John Smith (4.627 sec., 321.42 mph to 4.583 sec., 319.67 mph).
Scott, who won the opening event of the 2005 season in Pomona, Calif., in February, moves up one position to seventh in championship points due to his strong qualifying effort. He has 17 (16 Top Fuel, 1 Funny Car) NHRA national event victories to his credit.
Kalitta Motorsports' dragsters have now reached four final rounds in the first six NHRA events held thus far in 2005. The NHRA's only three-car Top Fuel dragster team has won three of those events (Pomona 1, Gainesville and Bristol).
The O'Reilly NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals was the sixth of 23 national events in the 2005 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.