Dallas: Kalitta eyes fourth place

DALLAS, Oct. 18, 2000 - Doug Kalitta definitely doesn't want to get ahead of himself, just Joe Amato. Three races are yet to be run in the 2000 NHRA schedule and Kalitta finds himself tantalizingly close to fourth-place Amato in the ...

DALLAS, Oct. 18, 2000 - Doug Kalitta definitely doesn't want to get ahead of himself, just Joe Amato. Three races are yet to be run in the 2000 NHRA schedule and Kalitta finds himself tantalizingly close to fourth-place Amato in the current Winston Series standings. The difference between Kalitta, a third-year Top Fuel driver from Ypsilanti, Mich., and Amato, the five-time Top Fuel champion and 52-event winner, is a mere 12 points; Amato has 1281, Kalitta 1269. Kalitta would like to finish fourth to continue his yearly upward progression. He was sixth in 1998 when he won one race and the Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future award and fifth a year ago when he won once in sixth final rounds. The first of the remaining events is the O'Reilly Fall Nationals, Friday through Sunday at the Texas Motorplex in Ennis. It's a track where Kalitta has had some success. He finished second in the spring races in 1998 and 1999. He was a semifinalist a year ago when he and his cousin Scott switched racecars for the weekend . . . and Scott wound up second. Doug lost in the semifinals. "The Motorplex is a good place to run," Doug said. "And things have been looking pretty good for us. We'd like to go down there and take the win. That's the plan anyway." While Kalitta - driving the MGM Grand dragster owned and tuned by his uncle, Connie Kalitta - is enjoying his finest drag racing season, he isn't about to talk about the final standings until it's all over. Twelve rounds of competition are to be run, with stops at Houston (Oct. 26-29) and Pomona, Calif. (Nov. 10-12), and anything can happen. One only has to look back to the Oct. 8 race at Memphis as an example. A qualifying accident sent defending series Top Fuel champion Tony Schumacher to the hospital with a broken leg and numerous bumps and bruises. He is second in points, behind pacesetter Gary Scelzi, and is hoping to be able to drive again at Pomona. Third-place Larry Dixon was injured in a final-round accident. He suffered a broken fibula, had a screw surgically inserted in the bone to help healing and will be ready to go at the Motorplex. Scelzi has 1663 points, Schumacher 1537 and Dixon 1440 going into this weekend's race. Kalitta is focusing on fourth place because there aren't enough rounds left for him to catch Scelzi and Schumacher. It is mathematically possible for him to pass Dixon, who is nine rounds ahead. Amato, obviously, is very close. Kalitta had another good outing at Memphis, qualifying third with a 4.598-second pass at 313.07 mph in unusually cold conditions. He used his driving skills in a Round 1 win over Bobby Baldwin, pedaling the throttle when the rear tires lost traction and winning with a 6.497. He rebounded with a 4.620 - quickest run of the quarterfinals - to beat Cory McClenathan but lost to Dixon in the semifinals. Even though he didn't qualify at Phoenix (Feb. 27), Kalitta should easily surpass his 1999 point total (1307), perhaps as early as Sunday, thanks to his three wins in six final rounds this season. The victories have come at Gainesville, Fla., Sonoma, Calif., and Englishtown, N.J. -30-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Larry Dixon , Tony Schumacher , Joe Amato , Gary Scelzi , Doug Kalitta , Cory McClenathan , Connie Kalitta