Denver: Doug Kalitta final report

Doug Kalitta races to runner-up finish in Denver MORRISON, Col., (July 12, 2009) -- Doug Kalitta, a 31-time Top Fuel event winner and driver of the 8,000-horsepower No. 50 Kalitta Motorsports Top Fuel dragster, made his third final-round ...

Doug Kalitta races to runner-up finish in Denver

MORRISON, Col., (July 12, 2009) -- Doug Kalitta, a 31-time Top Fuel event winner and driver of the 8,000-horsepower No. 50 Kalitta Motorsports Top Fuel dragster, made his third final-round appearance of the 2009 Full Throttle Drag Racing Series, Sunday, in eliminations of the annual running of the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway in Morrison, Col., just a few miles west of the Denver city limits.

After qualifying with a season-best No. 6 spot (3.975 seconds, 300.80 mph) on the eliminations ladder, Kalitta defeated No. 11 qualifier Clay Millican in the opening round, 4.097 seconds, 295.79 mph to 4.183 sec. It was the third consecutive event that the two rail competitors met in the opening stanza with Kalitta getting his first victory of the three meetings in Denver.

In the quarterfinals, Kalitta and Tony Schumacher gave the huge crowd at Bandimere Speedway one of the best side-by-side races of the season. When the two drivers and their machines crossed the 1,000-ft. finish line with identical speeds, the margin of victory for Kalitta was a mere .007 seconds - 4.003 sec., 303.57 mph to 4.005 sec.

Kalitta then matched up with Cory McClenathan in the semifinals. McClenathan "two-stepped" the start of the race and that led to mechanical problems for his dragster later down track. Kalitta got the win light with his best lap of eliminations, 3.997 sec., 303.16 mph to 4.279 sec., 259.51 mph.

After an hour-long plus rain delay, Kalitta and his opponent Antron Brown lined up to race in the final round. Kalitta's No. 50 dragster went into severe tire shake soon after the start. The extra stress on the dragster's nitro-fueled motor caused the burst panels in the manifold to pop. Kalitta's engine went silent and Brown was able to get the win, 11.363 sec., 43.13 mph to 3.944 sec., 295.21 mph.

"It was a terrific weekend for our No. 50 team," Kalitta, a 12-year NHRA veteran and 44-year old resident of Ann Arbor, Mich., said. "We have absolutely nothing to hang our heads about. We qualified the best we have all year and our dragster was very consistent all weekend. We had been struggling with our tune-up going into Denver, so now we're really pleased to see our car back at the performance level it should be. I think we're going to start winning a lot more rounds from here on out."

Kalitta, now a 57-time Top Fuel finalist, has posted runner-up finishes in Denver four times in his career (1999, 2001, and 2003). He won the season-opening Winternationals event in Pomona, Calif., in February and also reached the final round this year in Bristol, Tenn. He remains in ninth place in Full Throttle championship points.

Kalitta's trip to the winner's circle in Pomona this year was his first win since the fall of 2007. Kalitta has finished in the top ten in Full Throttle Top Fuel championship points in every season of his drag racing career.

Kalitta's teammate Jeff Arend, driver of the DHL Toyota Solara Funny Car, lost a heartbreakingly close race in his first round duel with Cruz Pedregon, 4.320 sec., 286.80 mph to 4.309, 287.72 mph. The margin of victory at the finish line for Pedregon was a scant .01 seconds. Arend, like his Team Kalitta comrade, also had a season-best starting spot on the Funny Car eliminations ladder with a No. 9 effort, 4.196 sec., 296.63 mph.

The Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals was the 13th of 24 national events in the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series.

-credit: km

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Series NHRA
Drivers Antron Brown , Tony Schumacher , Doug Kalitta , Cory McClenathan , Jeff Arend