Teammates Dave Grubnic and Scott Kalitta advance to quarterfinals in Top Fuel and Funny Car respectively in Phoenix; Doug Kalitta suffers first round loss Chandler, Ariz., (Feb. 26, 2006) -- "Aussie Dave" Grubnic, driver of the black and pink,...
Teammates Dave Grubnic and Scott Kalitta advance to quarterfinals in Top Fuel and Funny Car respectively in Phoenix; Doug Kalitta suffers first round loss
Chandler, Ariz., (Feb. 26, 2006) -- "Aussie Dave" Grubnic, driver of the black and pink, 7,000 horsepower StriVectin-SD Top Fuel dragster, made a quarter-final appearance at the Checker Schuck's Kragen NHRA Nationals at Firebird Int'l Raceway Sunday in Chandler, Ariz., just outside of Phoenix. His Kalitta Motorsports teammate Scott Kalitta also advanced to the quarterfinals in his Kalitta Air nitro Funny Car. Scott's cousin and No. 7 qualifier Doug Kalitta, driver of the Mac Tools Top Fueler, lost his opening round race of eliminations to Morgan Lucas, 7.295 seconds, 188.31 mph to 5.914 sec., 302.35 mph.
Grubnic, a 43-year old resident of Ennis, Mont., and native Australian, blasted down the quarter-mile in the opening round with his best run of the weekend, 4.492 sec., 321.27 mph, to defeat Doug Foley, 4.566 sec., 310.48 mph. In the quarterfinals, round two, Grubnic had a slight starting line advantage over his opponent Melanie Troxel (.086 sec. to .097 sec.), but that slender lead disappeared quickly when his StriVectin-SD dragster lost traction to give Troxel the win, 5.429 sec., 186.33 mph to 4.578 sec., 324.59 mph.
In early 2003, Grubnic was hired to drive for Kalitta Motorsports. Since joining the Ypsilanti, Michigan-based multi-car nitro team, Grubnic has posted consecutive top-five championship points finishes. In 2004, he won the lucrative and coveted Budweiser Shootout in Las Vegas, becoming only the fourth driver in the special event's 20-year history to win its $100,000 prize in his first attempt, and he picked up an emotional and long overdue first NHRA national event win in May, 2005 in Topeka, Kans., to become the first non-native North American to win a Top Fuel trophy.
Scott Kalitta, driver of the new Kalitta Air nitro Funny Car, qualified in the No. 16 spot in Sunday's 16-car final eliminations. He and his team lead by crew chief Johnny West and co-crew chief Larry Meyer were able to stun the big crowd at Firebird Int'l Raceway in the first round when they toppled the No. 1 qualifier Eric Medlen, 4.899 sec., 317.12 mph to 8.060 sec., 107.72 mph. Scott's charmed day ended in the next round against Phil Burkart Jr., 10.421 sec., 89.71 mph to 4.905 sec., 313.66 mph.
Until Sunday, the last round of eliminations won by Scott was round one versus Tom Hoover in Reading, Penn., in 1990.
Scott, a 43-year old resident of Palmetto, Fla., has spent most of his quarter-mile career behind the wheel of a Top Fuel dragster where he won 17 NHRA national events and two (1994-1995) world championships, but he garnered his first national event victory in a Funny Car in Houston in 1989, while hobbled with a broken foot to boot.
Rookie Top Fueler Hillary Will, driving the Kalitta Motorsports-managed, Ken Black-owned dragster, qualified in the No. 12 position and won her opening-round match-up with Brandon Bernstein. Will lost in round two to Rod Fuller.
The Checker Schuck's Kragen NHRA Nationals was the 2nd of 23 national events in the 2006 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.