Kalitta Motorsports' "Aussie Dave" Grubnic makes semifinals in St. Louis; Teammates Doug Kalitta and Scott Kalitta take early exits Madison, Ill., June 26, 2005 -- With a scorching 132-degree track temperature Sunday at the beginning of final ...
Kalitta Motorsports' "Aussie Dave" Grubnic makes semifinals in St. Louis; Teammates Doug Kalitta and Scott Kalitta take early exits
Madison, Ill., June 26, 2005 -- With a scorching 132-degree track temperature Sunday at the beginning of final eliminations at the Sears Craftsman NHRA Nationals at Gateway Int'l Raceway in Madison, Ill., just east of downtown St. Louis, Cousins and Kalitta Motorsports Top Fuel teammates Doug Kalitta and Scott Kalitta both suffered first-round losses as teammate "Aussie Dave" Grubnic made the semifinals and closed in on the 2005 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Top Fuel championship points lead.
No. 7 qualifier (4.607 sec., 322.34 mph) in St. Louis Grubnic, driver of the Zantrex-3 Top Fuel dragster, defeated Cory McClenathan in round one, 6.361 seconds, 286.92 mph to 9.754 sec., 63.84 mph. In the quarterfinals, Grubnic matched up with Tony Schumacher. In a fantastic drag race, Grubnic took the close win, 4.690 sec., 319.14 mph to 4.696 sec., 322.11 mph.
In the semifinals, Grubnic took a commanding early lead over competitor Morgan Lucas by way of a great .058-sec. starting line reaction time to Lucas' .103-sec. start, but Grubnic lost traction quickly in his 7,000 + horsepower nitro dragster and relinquished the win light to Lucas at the finish line, 6.437 sec., 170.11 mph to 4.744 sec., 310.70 mph.
Grubnic remains in fourth place in Top Fuel championship points, but now only trails the lead by 99 points. He is now just 28 points shy of third place holder Larry Dixon.
Native Australian Grubnic, 42, the $100,000 Budweiser Shootout special event winner last fall in Las Vegas, made history last month in Topeka, by becoming the first non-North American to win an NHRA Top Fuel national event. The win in Topeka was Grubnic's first in his 11-year career.
Current Top Fuel championship points leader and two-time points runner-up (2003-2004) Doug Kalitta, 40, driver of the Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster, qualified in the No. 1 spot (4.564 sec., 325.37 mph).
In the first round, Doug's dragster lost traction on the hot and slick quarter-mile race track and let Mike Strasburg take the win, 5.105 sec., 283.85 mph to 5.044 sec., 290.57 mph.
Doug now holds a 43-point lead over second place Schumacher in championship points at the halfway point of the 2005 NHRA season. Doug took the points lead after the sixth NHRA national event in Bristol, Tenn.
Doug is an eight-year Top Fuel veteran and former USAC National Sprint Car Champion (1994). He owns 22 NHRA national event trophies. He has three wins so far in 2005 (Gainesville, Fla., Bristol, and Atlanta). He was runner-up at events in Las Vegas and Columbus, Ohio.
Two-time Top Fuel World Champion (1994-1995) and Doug's Cousin Scott Kalitta, 43, driver of the Mac Tools/Jesse James Top Fuel dragster, qualified No. 8 (4.616 sec., 322.65 mph).
In his opening-round battle with Doug Herbert, Scott's hot rod dragster also lost traction to let Herbert get the win, 13.087 sec., 71.96 mph to 5.886 sec., 243.28 mph.
Scott, who won the opening event of the 2005 season in Pomona, Calif., in February, and again just two events ago in Joliet, Ill., is now seventh in championship points. He has 18 (17 Top Fuel, 1 Funny Car) NHRA national event victories in his 24-year career.
Kalitta Motorsports had made seven straight final-round appearances before St. Louis. In the first 12 NHRA national events of 2005, Team Kalitta race cars have made nine final-round appearances with six wins (Doug - 3, Scott - 2, Grubnic - 1).
The Sears Craftsman NHRA Nationals was the 12th of 23 national events in the 2005 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.