Commerce: Doug Kalitta preview

Top Fuel points leader Doug Kalitta heads down south for Atlanta NHRA event while hope for a championship begins to climb Commerce, Ga., May 11, 2005 - After winning his first NHRA national event of 2005 in Gainesville. Fla., in March, Ann...

Top Fuel points leader Doug Kalitta heads down south for Atlanta NHRA event while hope for a championship begins to climb

Commerce, Ga., May 11, 2005 - After winning his first NHRA national event of 2005 in Gainesville. Fla., in March, Ann Arbor, Mich., native Doug Kalitta was congratulated by many, but drag racing legend and three-time NHRA Top Fuel World Champion Shirley Muldowney, who was in attendance, paid the driver of the 7,000 + horsepower Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster the highest compliment of all - "You're one of the best Top Fuel drivers I've ever may even be the best of all-time," Muldowney remarked.

This bold statement by Muldowney may be a bit biased since her husband Rahn Tobler is the co-crew chief on Doug's Kalitta Motorsports nitro-fueled red rail, but there is no doubting her sincerity. Doug is widely regarded as one of the best Top Fuel pilots by his peers in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series. His two victories this season, including the previous event in Bristol, Tenn., lend proof to racers and fans that he is among the sport's quarter-mile elite.

In the Gainesville final round, Doug out-pedaled an equally accomplished driver in Larry Dixon. Two weeks ago in Bristol, Doug won his 21st career title round on a holeshot over Rod Fuller (4.593 seconds to 4.588 sec.). Doug's starting line reaction time of .072 sec., bested Fuller's .082 sec., to win the incredibly close race for Doug by approximately three feet at the finish line.

By way of his win in Bristol and an opening-round exit by Top Fuel rival and former points leader Tony Schumacher, Doug took over the championship points lead for only the second time in his drag racing career. The first trip to the top was for the duration of only one event, Denver, last season. His current lead is 23 points over second place Schumacher. Considering that Doug made first-round departures in the first two national events of 2005 (Pomona 1 and Phoenix) and dropped to ninth place in points, it is a remarkable feat by the Mac Tools team that Doug is in the lead after six events.

This weekend at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway, just east of downtown Atlanta in Commerce, Ga., Doug will attempt to add to his points lead and do something he has never done at Atlanta Dragway - Win.

"Atlanta has always been a tough place for me," Doug said. "I made the final round in 1999 but lost when I red lit. Since then, I think last year was our best when I made the semis. Otherwise, we haven't done that well at Atlanta Dragway.

"We need to have a good day on Sunday this year. We took over the points lead, so now we need to keep going rounds and stay consistent. If we do that, we can keep the lead. A win, of course, would be great but getting out of the first and second rounds are key right now."

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 holds the time slips for the quickest (4.420 sec., Chicago 1 - 2004) and the fastest (335.57 mph, Las Vegas 1 - 2004) runs in NHRA history.

Doug was the 1998 Auto Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award winner for NHRA rookie excellence.

Kalitta Motorsports, which includes Doug's teammates Scott Kalitta and "Aussie Dave" Grubnic, has made four final-round appearances in the first six NHRA national events of 2005 with three wins (Doug - 2, Scott - 1).

The Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals begins Friday, May 13, 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.

The Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals is the seventh 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) and Jon Oberhofer (Zantrex-3 dragster).

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 Shirley Muldowney , Larry Dixon , Tony Schumacher , Doug Kalitta , David Grubnic , Scott Kalitta , Jim Oberhofer , Rod Fuller , Jesse James