Commerce: Kalitta Motorsports Saturday summary

Defending Atlanta Top Fuel champ Doug Kalitta qualifies No. 2 in Georgia; Top Fuel teammate Dave Grubnic lands the No. 11 spot and Scott Kalitta qualifies No. 12 in nitro Funny Car COMMERCE, Ga. (May 6, 2006) -- Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster...

Defending Atlanta Top Fuel champ Doug Kalitta qualifies No. 2 in Georgia;
Top Fuel teammate Dave Grubnic lands the No. 11 spot and Scott Kalitta qualifies No. 12 in nitro Funny Car

COMMERCE, Ga. (May 6, 2006) -- Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster driver Doug Kalitta, who won the annual NHRA event in Atlanta last year, will begin his title defense of the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals in Commerce, Ga., northeast of downtown Atlanta, from the No. 2 (4.529 seconds, 324.67 mph) qualifying position in Sunday's 16-car final eliminations field.

Doug will race No. 15 qualifier David Baca (4.635 sec., 317.12 mph) in the first round of eliminations tomorrow. Doug enters tomorrow's final eliminations in third place in POWERade championship points.

Doug, a 41-year old resident of Ann Arbor, Mich., is a two-time Top Fuel championship points runner-up (2003-2004) and the 1998 Auto Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award winner for rookie excellence. He has 24 NHRA national event wins. He is now in his ninth season in NHRA Top Fuel drag racing. Before joining the quarter-mile set, Doug raced in open-wheel competition and won the 1994 USAC National Sprint Car Championship.

Doug's Kalitta Motorsports Top Fuel teammate and native Australian Dave Grubnic, driver of the StriVectin-SD Top Fuel dragster, qualified for final eliminations in the No. 11 spot (4.600 sec., 324.90 mph). He will race No. 6 qualifier Larry Dixon (4.653 sec., 318.99 mph) in the first round of eliminations. Grubnic enters tomorrow's final eliminations in second place in POWERade championship points.

In early 2004, Grubnic, a 43-year old resident of Ennis, Mont., was hired to drive for Kalitta Motorsports after several years of driving for teams with minimal funding. Since joining Team Kalitta, Grubnic, now in his 12th season as a Top Fuel driver, has posted consecutive top-five championship points finishes. In 2004, he won the lucrative and coveted Budweiser Shootout in Las Vegas, becoming only the fourth driver in the special event's 20-year history to win its $100,000 prize in his first attempt, and he picked up an emotional and long overdue first NHRA national event win in May, 2005 in Topeka, Kans., to become the first non-native North American to win a Top Fuel trophy.

Doug's cousin Scott Kalitta, driving his new Kalitta Air Monte Carlo Funny Car flopper, qualified No. 12 (4.829 sec., 318.47 mph) for Sunday's eliminations. Scott, the son of team owner and drag racing legend Connie Kalitta, will race No. 5 qualifier and defending POWERade points world champion Gary Scelzi (4.744 sec., 328.78 mph) in the first round of eliminations.

Scott, a 43-year old resident of Palmetto, Fla., and 25-year drag racing veteran, made the switch from Top Fuel to Funny Car this season. Scott has one NHRA national event win in his career in nitro Funny Car and that was at the Houston event in 1989 while driving with a broken left foot. In Top Fuel, Scott scored two world championships (1994-1995) and 17 NHRA national event wins.

Rookie Top Fueler Hillary Will, driving the Kalitta Motorsports-managed, Ken Black-owned dragster, qualified in the No. 5 position.

Sunday's final eliminations at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals begin at 11:00 a.m.

-km-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Larry Dixon , Gary Scelzi , Doug Kalitta , David Baca , Scott Kalitta , Connie Kalitta , Hillary Will , Ken Black