NHRA's Doug Kalitta takes over Top Fuel POWERade points lead with semi-final run in Denver; Teammates Dave Grubnic and Scott Kalitta make second round and first round exits respectively DENVER, Colo., (July 16, 2006) -- Doug Kalitta, driver of...
NHRA's Doug Kalitta takes over Top Fuel POWERade points lead with semi-final run in Denver; Teammates Dave Grubnic and Scott Kalitta make second round and first round exits respectively
DENVER, Colo., (July 16, 2006) -- Doug Kalitta, driver of "Big Red", the 8,000 horsepower Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster, made a semi-final appearance Sunday at the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals at scenic Bandimere Speedway in Denver, Colo., but more importantly for the Top Fuel racing veteran and his team is that he is now the POWERade championship points leader (978) by 22 points over second place holder Melanie Troxel.
Doug leads Top Fuel, the NHRA's quickest and fastest racing class, with four wins in 2006 and has climbed from 9th to 1st place in POWERade championship points since April. He made a meteoric 232-point climb in points in the last eight events to take the lead. It marks only the third time that Doug has led the points in his career. He last led the points last season after the St. Louis event.
"It's great to be back in the points lead again," Kalitta said. "The competition out here in Top Fuel this year is tremendous so it's a big accomplishment for our Mac Tools team. Now we just have to stay consistent down the road for the rest of the season and hope we're right there in the end."
Doug, the No. 1 qualifier, raced the No. 16 qualifier Scott Palmer (5.563 sec., 176.47 mph) in the first round of eliminations Sunday. Doug easily took the opening round win, 4.937 sec., 302.89 mph to 6.283 sec., 151.95 mph. In round two, Doug displayed his starting line prowess and used a holeshot (better starting line reaction time) to get by a quicker David Baca, 5.023 sec., 302.28 mph to 5.013 sec., 295.01 mph. Doug left the starting line .06 sec. quicker than Baca. In the semifinals, Doug's racing day ended with a loss to the Alan Johnson-tuned Top Fueler, 4.912 sec., 300.53 mph to 4.783 sec., 322.27 mph.
Doug has won four of the previous eight NHRA national events (Bristol, Tenn., Atlanta, Topeka, Kans., and Chicago).
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 28 NHRA national event wins in 51 final-round appearances. 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 Dave Grubnic, driver of the 330-mph, pink and black StriVectin-SD Top Fuel dragster, qualified for final eliminations in the No. 5 spot (4.643 sec., 327.82 mph). He raced the No. 12 qualifier Troxel (4.785 sec., 312.42 mph) in the first round of eliminations.
Grubnic made a great lap down the quarter-mile in the opening stanza, 4.847 sec., 304.19 mph, to easily get the victory over Troxel's 5.247-sec., 220.44-mph losing effort. Grubnic then went on to face the Alan Johnson-tuned dragster in the quarterfinals. Again, Grubnic made a great lap, 4.917 sec., 305.91 mph, but it was not enough this time to get the win over his opponent, 4.827 sec., 318.92 mph.
Grubnic drops one points position from 5th to 6th in POWERade championship points (729).
Doug's cousin Scott Kalitta, driving the specially painted Technicoat Companies Nitro Funny Car flopper, qualified No. 15 (5.172 sec., 274.50 mph) for Sunday's eliminations. Scott, the son of team owner, crew chief and drag racing legend Connie Kalitta, raced No. 2 qualifier Gary Scelzi (4.896 sec., 310.20 mph) in the first round of eliminations. Scott's Technicoat entry lost traction on the very hot drag strip at Bandimere Speedway and that allowed Scelzi to cruise to the win, 8.114 sec., 105.61 mph to 5.092 sec., 298.21 mph.
Rookie Top Fueler Hillary Will, driving the Kalitta Motorsports-managed, Ken Black-owned dragster, qualified in the No. 7 position. She won her first round match-up with Bob Vandergriff Jr., but lost in round two to J.R. Todd.
The Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals was the 13th of 23 national events in the 2006 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.