Phoenix: Kalitta Motorsports final summary

Kalitta Motorsports' Dave Grubnic goes to the semifinals at NHRA event in Phoenix; Teammates Scott Kalitta and Doug Kalitta suffer second and first round losses respectively Chandler, Ariz., Feb. 27, 2005 -- After qualifying tenth for the 16-car...

Kalitta Motorsports' Dave Grubnic goes to the semifinals at NHRA event in Phoenix; Teammates Scott Kalitta and Doug Kalitta suffer second and first round losses respectively

Chandler, Ariz., Feb. 27, 2005 -- After qualifying tenth for the 16-car final eliminations field at the Checker Schuck's Kragen NHRA Nationals at Firebird Int'l Raceway in Chandler, Ariz., just outside of Phoenix, "Aussie Dave" Grubnic took his black and blue-flame adorned Zantrex-3 Top Fuel dragster to the semifinal round Sunday.

The 40-year old native Australian Grubnic won a close race (4.534 sec., 324.36 mph to 4.551 sec., 325.69 mph) against venerable competitor Larry Dixon in the first round of the second event of the young NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series season. In the second round, Grubnic took his nitro-fueled, 7,000+ horsepower Zantrex-3 race car into battle against fellow native Aussie Andrew Cowin. Grubnic easily defeated his countryman (4.578 sec., 321.19 mph to 4.711 sec., 314.39 mph) to make his second consecutive semi-final appearance of 2005.

In the semis, Grubnic lost traction early in his run against Morgan Lucas and was unable to make the eighth final-round appearance of his 11-year NHRA career.

"We gave it our best shot," Grubnic said. "I'm happy with our effort this weekend. Of course, I'm disappointed that we did not get to race for the win, but our Zantrex-3 team performed fantastic this weekend, and we made the semis. If we can keep that kind of consistency for the rest of the season, we will be in good shape to battle for the championship." Grubnic leaves Phoenix in fourth place in 2005 Top Fuel championship points.

Scott Kalitta, driver of the Mac Tools/Jesse James Top Fueler, qualified No. 4 for the event. He took the win over a red-lighting Scott Palmer in the opening round. In the second round, Kalitta's multi-colored striped rail lost traction in his attempt to beat Brandon Bernstein.

"That's not how it was supposed to go," Scott said. "We just didn't get a good a handle on it that round. We're not hanging our heads though. We've won five rounds so far this year, and that's better than how we started last year. Our Mac Tools/Jesse James team will get it figured out, and we'll go to the next race."

Scott, 43, was vying for the 18th national event victory of his 24-year career. Scott, Top Fuel World Champion in 1994 and 1995, won the season opening NHRA event in Pomona, Calif., two weeks ago. He leaves Phoenix in second place in Top Fuel championship points.

Doug Kalitta, 40, driver of the bright red Mac Tools flagship Top Fueler, unfortunately suffered his second straight first round loss of 2005 when his dragster lost traction against Cowin. The two-time points championship runner-up (2003-2004) entered the event hoping for the 20th Top Fuel victory of his eight-year drag racing career. Doug entered eliminations from the No. 2 qualifying position. Doug leaves Phoenix in ninth place in championship points.

The Checker Schuck's Kragen NHRA Nationals was the second of 23 national events in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Larry Dixon , Doug Kalitta , Andrew Cowin , Scott Kalitta , Brandon Bernstein , Scott Palmer , Morgan Lucas , Jesse James