NHRA's Kalitta Motorsports looking for lucky seventh win in Englishtown; Fourth Top Fueler addition should better their odds Englishtown, N.J., June 15, 2005 - Kalitta Motorsports', the NHRA's only full-time three-car Top Fuel dragster team, ...
NHRA's Kalitta Motorsports looking for lucky seventh win in Englishtown; Fourth Top Fueler addition should better their odds
Englishtown, N.J., June 15, 2005 - Kalitta Motorsports', the NHRA's only full-time three-car Top Fuel dragster team, drivers Scott Kalitta, Doug Kalitta and "Aussie Dave" Grubnic will attempt win their collective seventh NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series title trophy of 2005 this weekend, June 16-19, at the K&N Filters SuperNationals at historic Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown, N.J.
Team Kalitta's chances of grabbing their seventh win this weekend in Englishtown, only the 11th NHRA national event of the season, will be increased with the addition of a fourth Top Fuel dragster driven by Ben Marshall.
Kalitta race cars have made six straight final-round appearances (Las Vegas 1, Bristol, Tenn., Atlanta, Columbus, Ohio, Topeka, Kan., and Joliet, Ill.) with four wins (Bristol, Atlanta, Topeka, and Joliet) in the past five events. In the first ten events of 2005, Kalitta race cars have made eight final-round appearances with six wins (Doug - 3, Scott - 2, Grubnic - 1). The two runner-up finishes were by Doug in Las Vegas and Columbus.
Two-time NHRA Top Fuel World Champion (1994-1995) and driver of the Mac Tools/Jesse James nitro-powered hot rod Scott is the team's most recent winner. He won the previous event Sunday, June 12, in Joliet, just south of Chicago, to get his second win of 2005. His first win of the year was at the season-opening event in Pomona, Calif.
"Our car was almost flawless in Joliet," Scott said. "It was almost like it was in Pomona when we won. Unfortunately, we struggled to win only four rounds between the two event wins, but we have a good handle on our Mac Tools/Jesse James car now and we're eager to climb back into the points battle."
Scott, 43, is currently in sixth place in Top Fuel championship points after moving up two positions with his win in Joliet. He is 205 points behind leader Doug. He is a 24-year drag racing veteran with 18 career NHRA event wins (17 Top Fuel, 1 Funny Car).
Top Fuel championship points leader and Scott's Cousin Doug is a two-time Top Fuel points runner-up (2003-2004). He holds a slim 25-point lead over second place Tony Schumacher going into this weekend in Englishtown. He was narrowly defeated in the second round in Joliet by his teammate Scott, 4.569 seconds, 324.83 mph to 4.529 sec., 325.53 mph. The loss could have cost him the top spot, but Schumacher also lost in the second round to help Doug leave the event with the lead, which he took over from Schumacher with his win at the sixth event in Bristol.
"We got really lucky on that deal," Doug, driver of the Mac Tools flagship dragster, said. "It was a great race with Scott. They just beat us. Their car ran great all day Sunday, and they deserved to get the win. Tony going out in the second round saved the day for us.
"We're still in the lead, and that's good. We've only won one round in the past two races, so to have the lead still is a bit unexpected. Our Mac Tools team is the best in the business, so I'm sure we'll get it gathered back in and make a run for the win in Englishtown."
Doug is a two-time winner in Englishtown, 2000 and 2003. He also holds both ends of the Old Bridge Township Raceway Park's track record for elapsed time (4.481 sec.) and for speed (330.63 mph). Both records were set in 2003.
Doug, 40, is an eight-year Top Fuel veteran and former USAC National Sprint Car Champion (1994). He has 22 career NHRA event wins, including three in 2005 (Gainesville, Fla., Bristol, and Atlanta). He was the 1998 Auto Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award winner for NHRA rookie excellence.
Native Australian "Aussie Dave" Grubnic, 42, driver of the Zantrex-3 Top Fuel dragster, got an emotional first NHRA national event win in Topeka, May 29. His win was historic in the fact that he became the first non-native North American to win an NHRA national event in Top Fuel.
In Joliet, Grubnic lost in round one to Rod Fuller on a holeshot, 4.551 sec., 317.57 mph to 4.565 sec., 325.30 mph. The loss was terribly disappointing for Grubnic, who had been on such an emotional high point since his win in Topeka.
"I made a mistake," Grubnic said. "A mistake that cost me, my team, and sponsors a chance to win. I have to take the total blame for it (Grubnic's slower starting line reaction time of .108 sec. to Fuller's .092 sec. cost him the win at the finish line).
"Shirley (Muldowney, drag racing legend, four-time Top Fuel World Champion and the Zantrex-3 team's sponsor and team relations representative) came into the lounge on the trailer to talk to me afterwards. She gave me some good advice, which I'm very grateful for. Not just about how to be better, but how to lose a bit better, because I was really down on myself after the loss.
"All we can do is move on and do better. I'm sure we'll be ready to put all this behind us and go for the win in Englishtown. It's a part of drag racing to lose. It's just not one of my favorite parts."
Grubnic had made seven final-round appearances in his 11-year career before his big win in Topeka. He also won the 2004 Budweiser Shootout special $100,000 event in Las Vegas last fall. He is currently fourth in Top Fuel championship points (626), 153 behind teammate and leader Doug.
Marshall, 29, will take the reins of the fourth Team Kalitta Top Fueler for the second time in 2005 behind the wheel of the StriVectin-SD dragster. His first professional trip down the quarter-mile was made earlier this season in Las Vegas in the same race car, an event in which he qualified No. 9. Marshall, who also serves as hospitality and marketing manager for Kalitta Motorsports, began drag racing at age 16 in a front-engine dragster bracket car. He also has experience in NHRA's Top Alcohol class and as Kalitta Motorsports' test driver.
Marshall's racy ride is owned by Santo Rapisarda, who owns a thriving crane company in Sydney and two very competitive dragsters on the Australian circuit. Rapisarda bought the car and parts from Kalitta Motorsports near the beginning of 2005. His plan was to get a few "hot" laps on the race car in Las Vegas and then return Down Under to race it there, but after the successful weekend with StriVectin-SD and Team Kalitta in Las Vegas, he graciously allowed the car to stay in the States to run again in the NHRA.
"I get to go again," Marshall said. "It's just awesome that Santo has agreed to keep the car over here and let me get to race some more and to get more seat time. I'm really looking forward to getting back on the track. In Las Vegas, there were some jitters, but I was mostly comfortable in the car. This time out will be different because I have the first one under my belt and I can really concentrate on racing and performing well."
Alan Reinhart, longtime NHRA announcer and part-time drag racer, will assist on Marshall's racecar as a crewman. Reinhart will help build and maintain the right side of the dragster's 7,000 + horsepower engine throughout the weekend in Englishtown.
The K&N Filters SuperNationals begins Friday, June 17, for the Top Fuel class with two qualifying sessions. Two more qualifying sessions follow on Saturday. The top sixteen qualified cars will race Sunday in final eliminations.
The K&N Filters SuperNationals is the 11th of 23 national events in the 2005 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.
About Kalitta Motorsports
Based in Ypsilanti, Michigan, Kalitta Motorsports is the only full-time three-car Top Fuel drag racing team in the NHRA (National Hot Rod Association) POWERade Drag Racing Series. The racing operation was started in 1959 by now legendary drag racer and team owner Connie "the Bounty Hunter" Kalitta. His son Scott Kalitta drives the Mac Tools/Jesse James dragster. Scott's cousin, Connie's nephew, Doug Kalitta drives the flagship dragster for Mac Tools. Native Australian David Grubnic drives the third dragster under the banner of Zantrex-3.
Connie serves as crew chief for all three Team Kalitta entries. He is assisted by co-crew chiefs Rahn Tobler (Mac Tools dragster), Jim Oberhofer (Mac Tools/Jesse James dragster) and Jon Oberhofer (Zantrex-3 dragster).
Associate sponsors on all three race cars include Red Line Oil, Summit Racing Equipment, Technicoat Companies and Fischer Honda.