Las Vegas: Kalitta Motorsports preview

Kalitta Motorsports Top Fuel dragster team set to make more NHRA history in Las Vegas Las Vegas, Nev., April 12, 2005 - The last time the speedy stars of the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series competed on the quarter-mile drag strip at The Strip...

Kalitta Motorsports Top Fuel dragster team set to make more NHRA history in Las Vegas

Las Vegas, Nev., April 12, 2005 - The last time the speedy stars of the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series competed on the quarter-mile drag strip at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in October of 2004, Kalitta Motorsports' NHRA-only, three-car Top Fuel dragster team had such a thrilling weekend that even the neon-glitz and twinkling bright lights of the other famous Las Vegas "strip" seemed dim by comparison - Mac Tools/Jesse James Top Fuel driver Scott Kalitta qualified No.1 for final eliminations, Zantrex-3 dragster driver "Aussie Dave" Grubnic won the $100,000 Budweiser Shootout special event as well as qualifying No. 3 and Mac Tools nitro hot rod pilot Doug Kalitta won the event trophy on Halloween night after qualifying No. 2.

At this weekend's spring event in the Nevada desert, just a few miles northeast of downtown, the NHRA SummitRacing.com Nationals, April 14-17, Kalitta Motorsports is hoping to cash-in for an even bigger Las Vegas jackpot in a grand effort like none before with the addition of a fourth Top Fueler to be driven by the team's test driver Ben Marshall.

After getting his Top Fuel dragster license upgrade at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway after the fall NHRA event in 2004 with a spectacular lap of 4.56 seconds at 317 mph, Dallas, Texas, native Marshall, 29, makes his professional debut in the black and pink StriVectin-SD Top Fuel dragster.

Marshall, who also serves as marketing manager for Kalitta Motorsports, began drag racing at age 16 in a front-engine dragster bracket car with his father Job. Marshall's last competitive NHRA stint behind the wheel of a race car was in 2001 and 2002 driving a Mike Dakin-owned A-fuel dragster. In 2002, the team made the semifinals in Gainesville at the Mac Tools Gatornationals and posted a final-round appearance at the divisional race in Indianapolis.

The StriVectin-SD race car is scheduled to race one event in 2005. StriVectin-SD, a skincare product sold worldwide to both men and women, was formulated to reduce existing stretch marks, but it also helps reduce fine lines, wrinkles and crow's feet. It can be purchased in select dermatology offices and specialty shops as well as high-end retail outlets.

"I've been looking forward to this weekend for almost my whole life," Marshall said. "I've wanted to drive a Top Fuel car for as long as I can remember, and now, I get to with one of the NHRA's all-time best teams at one of the best tracks in the sport. It really is like a dream come true."

Native Australian Grubnic, 42, is anxious to return to Las Vegas after uncharacteristically qualifying twelfth and bowing out in the first round of eliminations at the previous event in Houston.

"We had a bad weekend in Houston," Grubnic, now sixth in Top Fuel championship points, said. "But, it wasn't all bad. We were trying out some new things on the car that I think will pay dividends in performances down the road.

"Luckily, we get to go race in (Las) Vegas now. We won the Shootout the last time we were there, so we're definitely looking forward to racing there again. It's one of best facilities we get to race at in the NHRA. If all goes well, we should be right there in it competing for the win on Sunday."

Grubnic introduced his primary sponsorship with Zantrex-3 at the 2004 Las Vegas fall event. Since then, the affable Aussie and his striking black and electric blue flame-decorated race car have become instant fan favorites. He is in his sophomore year with Kalitta Motorsports after joining the team in January, 2004. He has made seven final-round appearances in his 11-year career but has yet to score his first NHRA national event win. His career-best elapsed time is 4.448 sec., and his career-best speed is 333.58 mph.

Doug Kalitta, driver of the bright red Mac Tools flagship Top Fueler, is hoping to see more record-setting performances in Las Vegas from his 7,000 + horsepower rocket on wheels. At last year's spring event in Sin City in April, Doug set a track record for speed with a booming 335.57-mph shot in qualifying. The mark is the fastest in NHRA history.

"We've always done pretty well in Las Vegas," Doug said. "It should be fun.

"Right now, we're really concentrating on keeping our Mac Tools car consistent. We struggled in the first two races this year, but we've battled back and gotten a win (Gainesville) and a semifinal (Houston) since then. We just need to keep improving. We're moving up in the points, so that's what I'm most happy about."

Two-time Top Fuel championship points runner-up (2003-2004) Doug, 40, is an eight-year Top Fuel veteran and former USAC National Sprint Car Champion (1994). He won the Mac Tools NHRA Gatornationals three weeks ago in Gainesville, Fla. He has 20 NHRA national event victories and holds the time slip for the quickest run in NHRA history (4.420 sec., Chicago 1 - 2004). He is currently 3rd in Top Fuel points, after gaining six points positions in the past two events.

Doug's cousin and two-time Top Fuel World Champion (1994-1995) Scott Kalitta, driver of the multi-colored striped Mac Tools/Jesse James dragster, also holds a record at The Strip with the track's quickest lap of 4.472 sec., set during the NHRA SummitRacing.com Nationals of 2004 in qualifying.

"We qualified No. 1 in (Las) Vegas for both races last year," Scott said. "So, now we just need to keep up that performance in eliminations. If we're low qualifier again this time, I like our chances of going rounds this year."

Scott lost in round two of eliminations in both Las Vegas NHRA events in 2004.

Scott, 43, who won the opening event of the 2005 season in Pomona, Calif., in February, is currently fifth in championship points. The 24-year drag racing veteran has 17 (16 Top Fuel, 1 Funny Car) NHRA national event victories. His career-best elapsed time is 4.455 sec., and his career-best speed is 333.95 mph.

The NHRA SummitRacing.com Nationals begins Friday, April 15, 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 NHRA SummitRacing.com Nationals is the fifth 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.

-www.kalittaracing.com

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About this article
Series NHRA
Drivers Doug Kalitta , David Grubnic , Scott Kalitta , Jim Oberhofer , Jesse James