Team Kalitta set to field all three Top Fuel dragsters in Budweiser Shootout; Seeking strong finish to 2004 NHRA season Las Vegas, Nev., Oct. 26, 2004 -- Kalitta Motorsports team owner, tuner and drag racing legend Connie "the Bounty Hunter" ...
Team Kalitta set to field all three Top Fuel dragsters in Budweiser Shootout; Seeking strong finish to 2004 NHRA season
Las Vegas, Nev., Oct. 26, 2004 -- Kalitta Motorsports team owner, tuner and drag racing legend Connie "the Bounty Hunter" Kalitta knows how fickle drag racing can be. He's disappointed because one of his three nitro rails did not win the 2004 Top Fuel POWERade championship, but he is excited to have all three of his entries qualified for the lucrative Budweiser Shootout race-within-a-race at the ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Oct. 28-31.
"Sure, I'm disappointed," Kalitta said. "We should have won the championship, but we didn't get the job done. Alan (Johnson, crew chief for 2004 champion Tony Schumacher) and those guys got it done. They had a great year and I congratulate them for that.
"Now, we want to win the Shootout again and I think we have a great chance of doing it. Our cars will make up almost half of the field (eight dragsters), so we have no excuses for not winning.
"Hopefully we can finish the season with a couple wins and keep all three cars in the top five (points). We'll give them a good go for the championship next year."
Connie's nephew Doug Kalitta, driver of the bright red Mac Tools flagship hot rod, will start his quest for the Budweiser Shootout's $100,000 prize as the No. 1 seed. Doug has won the popular event twice in his seven-year career. His first Shootout win came in his Automobile Club of Southern California's Road to the Future award-winning rookie season of 1998. His second victory was last year, where he was also seeded No. 1. He has qualified for the special event each year of his drag racing career.
The Shootout field is based upon consistency in qualifying for the Top Fuel competitors in a one-year span. Doug was low qualifier at six NHRA national events over the past year to lead the field.
Doug sits in second place in Top Fuel championship points, just 49 ahead of third place Brandon Bernstein with two events remaining on the schedule.
Championship runner-up in 2003 Doug, 40, has 18 career national event victories including wins this season in Chicago, St. Louis and Sonoma. Doug holds the quickest (4.420 sec. - Chicago 1, 2004) and fastest (335.57 mph -- Las Vegas 1, 2004) marks in NHRA history.
"We are going to have to stay focused on our game because there are teams right on our heels in the points," Doug said.
"The Shootout is a great event, and I would love to take the Bud money and the free beer."
Doug's cousin and Connie's son Scott Kalitta, driver of the Mac Tools/Jesse James dragster, won the big money in the Shootout in 1996 and really likes his chances this year.
"We're going after it," Scott said. "We've had a good year, but not a great year. We really want to go all out to finish the season strong. The best way to do that is win the Shootout and then win the event. That's our goal for Vegas, and I think we've got a great chance of doing it. We were low qualifier here in April, so we know how to get down the track."
"Las Vegas is such a great place to race. The racetrack is always prepared well and the facility can't be beat. It's always fun."
Two-time NHRA Top Fuel Champion (1994-1995) Scott, 42, has 16 career national event victories (15 Top Fuel, 1 Funny Car) including a trophy from Denver in 2004. Scott is currently in fourth position in championship points.
Scott and teammate "Aussie Dave" Grubnic are among the top seven seeded for the Budweiser Shootout. In a new format this season, competitors who earned qualifying points for 2nd thru 7th positions in the field will draw to establish their individual seeds, while competitors who earned points for 8th thru 15th positions will draw for the final "wildcard" slot in the eight-car field.
Grubnic will be driving the specially painted Zantrex-3 Top Fuel dragster in Las Vegas. Zantrex-3 is a dietary supplement that provides Rapid Weight Loss and Incredible Energy.
Grubnic is in his first season behind the wheel of the third Kalitta team car. The native of Brisbane, Australia, has been driving nitro dragsters in the United States since 1995. He has been No.1 qualifier five times this season at consecutive events in Phoenix and Gainesville and again at consecutive events in Atlanta and Chicago and then in Memphis. He has reached the final round seven times in his career, including five (St. Louis, Seattle, Sonoma, Brainerd and Dallas) in 2004, but has yet to take home a title trophy. He is currently fifth in Top Fuel championship points.
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).
The ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals is the 22nd event of the $50 million, 23-event 2004 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.
Please visit www.kalittaracing.com for more information about Kalitta Motorsports.