Las Vegas: Kalitta Motorsports Saturday summary

Kalitta Motorsports' Doug Kalitta qualifies No. 1 in Las Vegas; Teammates Ben Marshall, Scott Kalitta and "Aussie Dave" Grubnic qualify No. 9, No. 10 and No. 14 respectively Las Vegas, Nev., April 16, 2005 -- Doug Kalitta, driver of the bright...

Kalitta Motorsports' Doug Kalitta qualifies No. 1 in Las Vegas; Teammates Ben Marshall, Scott Kalitta and "Aussie Dave" Grubnic qualify No. 9, No. 10 and No. 14 respectively

Las Vegas, Nev., April 16, 2005 -- Doug Kalitta, driver of the bright red Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster, qualified No. 1 for Sunday's 16-car final eliminations at the NHRA SummitRacing.com Nationals in Las Vegas at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. He drove his 7,000 + horsepower rail to a best qualifying effort of 4.496 sec. at 329.34 mph in Friday night's second qualifying session. The low qualifier award will be given to Doug for the first time in 2005. It is the 24th time in his NHRA career that he has been atop the qualifying ladder. He will face No. 16 qualifier Scott Palmer in the opening round.

Doug, 40, and eight-year Top Fuel veteran and former USAC National Sprint Car Champion (1994), will be attempting to win the 21st NHRA national event of his career. He won the Mac Tools Gatornationals, three weeks ago in Gainesville, Fla. He is currently third in championship points.

"That was a great run last night," Doug said. "We've been working hard on a hot weather tune-up for our Mac Tools car, and it's starting to show some good signs. The 4.49 was in cooler conditions Friday night, but we ran a 4.73 today in the heat with a dropped cylinder. I'm really confident that we'll be able to run well tomorrow when conditions will be more like they were today."

Kalitta Motorsports' test driver and marketing manager Ben Marshall, 29, is making is professional debut this weekend in Las Vegas behind the wheel of his special, one-race-only StriVectin-SD Top Fueler. Marshall qualified in the No. 9 slot of the ladder and will race No. 8 qualifier Jack Beckman in round one Sunday. Beckman is also making his pro debut in Las Vegas.

"What a great weekend so far," Marshall said. "I hope we can keep it up.

"It's a great opportunity for me, StriVectin-SD and our whole Kalitta Motorsports team this weekend. I think it's cool that I'm racing Jack Beckman in the first round too. Both of us are racing in our first event in Top Fuel, so it should be exciting for the fans and the teams when we roll to the starting line together tomorrow."

Two-time Top Fuel World Champion (1994-1995) Scott Kalitta, 43, driver of the Mac Tools/Jesse James Top Fuel dragster, qualified No. 10 (4.632 sec., 301.74 mph) for the event. He will race No. 7 qualifier Brandon Bernstein in round one. This will be the third time Scott and Bernstein have raced each other in eliminations this year. Bernstein beat Scott in the second round in Phoenix. Scott defeated Bernstein in the first round at the previous event in Houston.

"We're struggling with our race car a little bit right now," Scott said. "It seems to have a mind of its own and every time we try to outsmart it, it outsmarts us. Tenth is definitely not where we want to be, but we'll deal with it and move on hopefully.

"I get to run my buddy Brandon in the first round. It seems like every time I turn around, he is in the other lane. If this keeps up, I think the NHRA should start paying us match-race money."

Scott, who won the opening event of the 2005 season in Pomona, Calif., in February, is currently fifth in championship points. He has 17 (16 Top Fuel, 1 Funny Car) NHRA national event victories to his credit.

Zantrex-3 Top Fuel pilot "Aussie Dave" Grubnic, 42, the 2004 Budweiser Shootout special event winner last fall in Las Vegas, struggled in the first three qualifying sessions and was not qualified going into the final session. With a track temperature of around 120 degrees, Grubnic motored his hot rod through the hot and slick quarter-mile with a relieving last gasp pass of 4.707 sec. at 319.75 mph to qualify 14th. He will face No. 3 qualifier Morgan Lucas in the opening round.

"It's a bit unusual for us to struggle like that in qualifying," Grubnic said. "We have a lot of confidence every time we go down the race track, but you never know when an unforeseen mechanical error can pop up. Everything worked like it should in that last run and we got in. Believe you me, that 4.70 felt like a 4.45 as long as we got in."

Native Australian Grubnic has made seven final-round appearances in his 11-year career but has not yet won an NHRA national event. He is currently in sixth place in Top Fuel championship points.

Kalitta Motorsports' dragsters will comprise one-fourth of Sunday's 16-car final eliminations field.

The NHRA SummitRacing.com Nationals is the fifth of 23 national events in the 2005 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.

Sunday's final eliminations begin with the Top Fuel class at 11:00 a.m.

-km-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Doug Kalitta , Scott Kalitta , Jack Beckman , Brandon Bernstein , Scott Palmer , Morgan Lucas , Jesse James