Las Vegas: Kalitta Motorsports final summary

NHRA's Grubnic runs to Top Fuel runner-up finish in Las Vegas; Top Fuel teammate Doug Kalitta makes semifinals after Cousin Scott Kalitta bows out in opening round of Funny Car LAS VEGAS (April 9, 2006) -- Dave Grubnic, driver of the pink and ...

NHRA's Grubnic runs to Top Fuel runner-up finish in Las Vegas; Top Fuel teammate Doug Kalitta makes semifinals after Cousin Scott Kalitta bows out in opening round of Funny Car

LAS VEGAS (April 9, 2006) -- Dave Grubnic, driver of the pink and black StriVectin-SD Top Fuel dragster, made his second final round of the 2006 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Sunday at the NHRA SummitRacing.com Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Las Vegas. In a rematch of the final round of the Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla., three weeks ago, Grubnic faced off against Top Fuel points leader Melanie Troxel to run for the money once again. This time Troxel got the win light, 4.987 seconds, 319.60 mph to 4.837 sec., 285.65 mph.

"Yeah, we're disappointed, of course, but we did our best," Grubnic said. "Congrats to Melanie and that whole crew. Richard Hogan (Troxel's crew chief and fellow Ennis, Mont., resident) is a good friend of mine, so I'm really happy for him.

"We tip-toed right on the edge all day. Our car was just a little too aggressive in that final round. We had a lot of V.I.P. guests out from StriVectin-SD this weekend, and I'm sorry we couldn't get it done for them, but we made the final and that's always good. We'll just get ready to run again in Bristol (Tenn.)."

Native Australian Dave Grubnic, who is establishing himself as one of the best "pedalers" in NHRA Top Fuel drag racing, called upon his 12 years of experience behind the steering wheel of a 7,000 horsepower nitro dragster to win both of his first two rounds of eliminations by out-driving his opponents. In round one, No. 10 qualifier Grubnic's StriVectin-SD dragster lost traction against No. 7 qualifier Cory McClenathan, but Grubnic's expertise allowed him to recover quicker when McClenathan's race car suffered the same tire-smoking fate, 5.129 sec., 305.29 mph to 5.612 sec., 236.42 mph. In round two, almost identical circumstances occurred with Grubnic and his opponent Larry Dixon, and Grubnic was able to win again, 4.988 sec., 320.28 mph to 5.274 sec., 282.42 mph.

In the semifinals, Grubnic had no problems with traction and marched past an engine-exploding Brandon Bernstein, 4.629 sec., 324.98 mph to 9.799 sec., 69.79 mph, to face Troxel in the title round.

Grubnic won the prestigious NHRA Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla., three weeks ago. Grubnic now sits in a career-high 2nd place in POWERade championship points. He entered the event in Las Vegas in 4th place.

In early 2004, Grubnic, a 43-year old resident of Ennis, Mont., was hired to drive for Kalitta Motorsports after several years of driving for teams with minimal funding. Since joining Team Kalitta, Grubnic, now in his 12th season as a Top Fuel driver, has posted consecutive top-five championship points finishes. In 2004, he won the lucrative and coveted Budweiser Shootout in Las Vegas, becoming only the fourth driver in the special event's 20-year history to win its $100,000 prize in his first attempt, and he picked up an emotional and long overdue first NHRA national event win in May, 2005 in Topeka, Kans., to become the first non-native North American to win a Top Fuel trophy.

Doug Kalitta, driving the specially designed Chip Foose/Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster, made his second semi-final round appearance in the previous three events. He vanquished Las Vegas-native Rod Fuller, 4.566 sec., 330.63 mph to 5.115 sec., 275.06 mph, in round one. In round two, Doug again breezed to an easy win over Alan Bradshaw with his second-consecutive 330+ mph run, 4.603 sec., 330.39 mph to 12.050 sec., 83.33 mph.

In the semifinals, Doug's dragster unexpectedly dropped cylinders and consequently lost power in his run against Troxel to barely lose his shot at racing his teammate in the finals, 4.721 sec., 327.43 mph to 4.547 sec., 327.35 mph.

Doug's normally bright red Mac Tools race car was decorated with a unique one-time only design by famed custom hot rod builder Chip Foose for the event in Las Vegas. Foose is the host and star of The Learning Channel's Overhaulin'. Overhaulin' is the cable TV channel's highest rated program.

Doug now sits in 6th place in POWERade championship points. He entered the event in Las Vegas in 9th place.

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 24 NHRA national event wins. 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.

For only the second time this season (Phoenix), Doug's cousin Scott Kalitta, driving his new Kalitta Air Monte Carlo Funny Car flopper, qualified for Sunday's final eliminations. Scott, the son of team owner and drag racing legend Connie Kalitta, qualified in the No. 11 spot with a career-best elapsed time of 4.804 sec. (317.49 mph). Unfortunately, Scott's Sunday of racing was short. He lost to No. 6 qualifier Ron Capps in the first round of eliminations, 9.178 sec., 89.28 mph to 4.886 sec., 315.27 mph.

Scott, a 43-year old resident of Palmetto, Fla., and 25-year drag racing veteran, made the switch from Top Fuel to Funny Car this season. Scott has one NHRA national event win in his career in nitro Funny Car and that was at the Houston event in 1989 while driving with a broken left foot. In Top Fuel, Scott scored two world championships (1994-1995) and 17 NHRA national event wins.

Rookie Top Fueler Hillary Will, driving the Kalitta Motorsports-managed, Ken Black-owned dragster, qualified in the No. 5 position. She was upset in round one by No. 12 qualifier Morgan Lucas.

The NHRA SummitRacing.com Nationals was the 5th of 23 national events in the 2006 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.

-km-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Larry Dixon , Ron Capps , Doug Kalitta , Cory McClenathan , Scott Kalitta , Melanie Troxel , Brandon Bernstein , Alan Bradshaw , Morgan Lucas , Connie Kalitta , Rod Fuller , Hillary Will , Ken Black