Charlotte: Dave Grubnic, Jeff Arend preview

Team DHL drivers have different motivations but the same goal at new Charlotte NHRA event CONCORD, N.C., (Sept. 11, 2008) -- Native Australian Dave Grubnic, driver of the bright yellow, Nitro-fueled, 8,000-horsepower DHL Top Fuel dragster,...

Team DHL drivers have different motivations but the same goal at new Charlotte NHRA event

CONCORD, N.C., (Sept. 11, 2008) -- Native Australian Dave Grubnic, driver of the bright yellow, Nitro-fueled, 8,000-horsepower DHL Top Fuel dragster, enters this weekend's, Sept. 11-14, inaugural running of the NHRA Carolinas Nationals at zMax Dragway at Concord in Concord, N.C., just a few miles from downtown Charlotte, as one of ten Top Fuel drivers in the 2008 NHRA Countdown to 1 "playoffs". The NHRA Carolinas Nationals is the first of six events in this year's Countdown to1.

Grubnic enters the event this weekend in 10th place in POWERade points. In years past, before the Countdown to the Championship "playoffs" system was first employed by NHRA last season, Grubnic would enter this weekend's spectacle an insurmountable 996 points behind the points leader. Under the 2008 Countdown to 1 points tally, Grubnic now only trails the lead by 110 points.

"We love the Countdown," Grubnic, a 46-year old resident of Ennis, Mont., said with a smile. "I was talking to Connie (Kalitta, crew chief, team owner and drag racing legend) right after we lost in the first round in Indy (previous event and last event in the "regular" season) and he was really bummed out about it, but I told him to cheer up because we just made up almost 900 points!

"Of course, the only goal we have for the remaining six races is to qualify well at each and go as many rounds as we can at each. Every single point from here on out is going to be critical. We're excited that we made the Countdown this year, and we going to do our best to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity we've been given."

Like his Team DHL/Kalitta Motorsports teammate, native Canadian Jeff Arend, driver of the Nitro-fueled DHL Toyota Solara Funny Car, is also excited about "breaking in" the new drag strip in Concord, but he and the DHL Funny Car team are concentrating on win lights and consistency.

"The most important thing for us is to go out there and make good, consistent laps," Arend, a 46-year old resident of San Dimas, Calif., said. "We did some testing last week and changed a lot of things on the DHL car, and the car responded in a very positive way so we're excited to go to the new track and see what we can do. Getting a win at the inaugural event in Charlotte would be a tremendous lift for everyone on this team."

Kalitta Motorsports team owner and drag racing legend Connie Kalitta chose Arend to drive the DHL Toyota Solara mount in late July to help preserve the legacy of his legendary son, Scott Kalitta, who died as result of a high-speed Funny Car qualifying accident in Englishtown, N.J., June 21. Arend is a 13-year Funny Car veteran with one NHRA Funny Car national event win to his credit -- Reading, Pa., 1996.

-credit: km

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Series NHRA
Drivers Scott Kalitta , Jeff Arend , Connie Kalitta