NHRA Top Fuel points leader Doug Kalitta qualifies No. 1 in St. Louis; Teammates "Aussie Dave" Grubnic and Scott Kalitta qualify No. 7 and No. 8 respectively Madison, Ill., June 25, 2005 -- At the Sears Craftsman NHRA Nationals in Madison, Ill.,...
NHRA Top Fuel points leader Doug Kalitta qualifies No. 1 in St. Louis; Teammates "Aussie Dave" Grubnic and Scott Kalitta qualify No. 7 and No. 8 respectively
Madison, Ill., June 25, 2005 -- At the Sears Craftsman NHRA Nationals in Madison, Ill., just east of St. Louis, Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster driver Doug Kalitta continued his dominance at Gateway Int'l Raceway by capturing his third No. 1 qualifier award of 2005. Doug is the defending Top Fuel champion at the event, where he also took the Top Fuel title in 2003 and 2001. It is Doug's 26th-career No. 1 starting position.
Current Top Fuel championship points leader and two-time points runner-up (2003-2004) Doug, 40, made his best qualifying run Saturday night in the final session to take the top spot with a 4.564-sec., 325.85-mph lap down the quarter-mile. He will race No. 16 qualifier Mike Strasburg in round one. Doug is 4-0 versus Strasburg in his career.
"We've had some good luck here in the past," Doug said. "Hopefully, we'll continue our hot streak here tomorrow. This place can be really tricky because of the conditions, but my Mac Tools guys will be ready, and I'm sure they'll give me a great car for eliminations."
Doug holds a 63-point lead over second place Tony Schumacher going into Sunday's eliminations.
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, Tenn., and Atlanta).
Team Kalitta teammate Grubnic, driver of the Zantrex-3 Top Fuel dragster, qualified No. 7 (4.607 sec., 322.34 mph). He will race No. 10 qualifier Cory McClenathan in round one of eliminations. Grubnic is 4-11 versus McClenathan in his career.
Fourth place in championship points holder and native Australian Grubnic, 42, the $100,000 Budweiser Shootout special event winner last fall in Las Vegas, made history last month in Topeka, Kans., 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.
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). He will race No. 9 qualifier Doug Herbert in round one of eliminations. Scott is 5-4 versus Herbert in his career.
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 currently sixth in championship points.
Scott has 18 (17 Top Fuel, 1 Funny Car) NHRA national event victories in his 24-year career.
Kalitta Motorsports has made seven straight final-round appearances. In the first 11 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 is the 12th of 23 national events in the 2005 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.
Sunday's final eliminations begin with the Top Fuel class at 4:30 p.m.