Indianapolis: Qualifying ace Kalitta aiming for victory

CLERMONT, Ind. - Doug Kalitta can never be accused of being loud or mouthy. He is more apt to speak with his actions than anything else. In that case, Kalitta speaks fast. Kalitta has driven the Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster into second place of...

CLERMONT, Ind. - Doug Kalitta can never be accused of being loud or mouthy. He is more apt to speak with his actions than anything else. In that case, Kalitta speaks fast.

Kalitta has driven the Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster into second place of the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing standings. He has notched three wins in seven final round appearances during the first 15 national events of the season. Kalitta has also earned the No. 1 qualifying position eight times this season. The NHRA Top Fuel record for the most top qualifying positions in a season is 10 - accomplished by Gary Beck in 1983 and Blaine Johnson in 1996.

As the Mac Tools team prepares for the most historical race in drag racing, Kalitta said he is trying to chase down victories, not records, when the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals begins, Aug. 28-Sept. 2, at Indianapolis Raceway Park. The $2.5 million race is the 17th of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.

"At this point we have more low qualifiers than we have wins," Kalitta said. "I would like to have more victories, but we'll certainly take the No. 1 qualifiers that we've earned. Those Budweiser (low qualifier) checks cash nicely and we really appreciate the extra incentive."

Kalitta's biggest challenge has come from the top of the standings. Larry Dixon and the Miller Lite team are in first place in Top Fuel. Dixon has eight wins to lead the category. All four of Kalitta's final round losses have come at the hands of the blue beer car. Kalitta has beaten Dixon just once in a final round matchup.

"Closing the gap on Larry has been real tough," Kalitta said. "You never know what could happen, so we are going to keep at it and keep trying to earn points. The biggest problem is that they are so consistent. Every time we are in a final round, they are in the other lane.

"We are not going to give up. We're going to try to win every race we can."

Kalitta will have a new teammate once the haulers pull into the track that plays host to the most prestigious race on the NHRA POWERade schedule. Kalitta's cousin, Scott, has announced that he will resume racing. The two-car team will be in action for the first time at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals.

Scott Kalitta has a history of success, winning back-to-back Top Fuel championships in 1994-95. He also has 15 national event victories.

"I think it is good that Scott is coming back," Kalitta said. "We are going to have two separate teams and we have been in the process of organizing that effort for a while. Our shop was set up for two cars, so we are not cramming things into small spaces. We're going to be ready for the second car."

Several Funny Car teams have multiple cars, but few Top Fuel teams have ventured into two-car ownership. Kalitta is hoping the addition will help him gain consistency at the track.

"It is going to be nice to see more competition out there for one thing," Kalitta said. "Plus, on the days we can't win, maybe Scott can. Two car teams provide more data and maybe we can learn from that and perform better on Sundays."

There is one time when Kalitta won't mind winning on a Monday - the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals on Labor Day.

"We look forward to racing there just because of the heritage behind the town and the race," Kalitta said. "That is the city where everyone, no matter what series they race in, wants to win. Everyone migrates to Indy to win the big race."

-nhra-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Larry Dixon , Doug Kalitta , Scott Kalitta