Kalitta runs personal bests at Winternationals full of ups and downs. Pomona, Calif., Feb. 9, 2003 -- Doug Kalitta and the Mac Tools/Kalitta Motorsports Top Fuel dragster team started their quest for the 2003 NHRA POWERade Top Fuel Championship...
Kalitta runs personal bests at Winternationals full of ups and downs.
Pomona, Calif., Feb. 9, 2003 -- Doug Kalitta and the Mac Tools/Kalitta Motorsports Top Fuel dragster team started their quest for the 2003 NHRA POWERade Top Fuel Championship in fine form by qualifying in the top spot of the 16-car, final eliminations field for the K&N Filters Winternationals, Feb. 6-9 at Pomona Raceway. Kalitta's amazing blast of 4.482 seconds at 332.18 mph down the quarter-mile was the third quickest Top Fuel run of all-time and ties the national speed record. Both marks are personal bests for Kalitta.
After struggling to get the power potential out of their dragster in the first two qualifying sessions, the Mac Tools team entered Saturday's first round of the Budweiser Shootout looking for better performance, and they got it. Kalitta and team easily proceeded to the second round after their opponent, Andrew Cowin, experienced problems on his burnout to give Kalitta a bye run of 4.591 seconds at 315.94 mph. The first round of the Budweiser Shootout also counts as a qualifying attempt for competitors in the special event.
In the second round of the Budweiser Shootout, Kalitta was not as lucky as he had been in the first. The Mac Tools dragster began losing traction early in the run to give opponent, Larry Dixon, the opportunity to take the win.
In the final Top Fuel qualifying session, Kalitta and the Mac Tools dragster team fired the shot that still has the drag racing world talking. Their pass of 4.482 seconds at 332.18 mph made jaws drop throughout the other Top Fuel teams and throughout the large crowd of Pomona Raceway fans. Kalitta was thrilled, but not surprised.
"We knew we had a run like that waiting to happen," said Kalitta. "It was only a matter time for Connie (Kalitta, crew chief) and Jim (Oberhofer, co-crew chief) to get the Mac Tools dragster to make such an awesome run. It was a really fun ride."
Sunday's final eliminations would unfortunately return to the opposite end of the drag racing spectrum again to bring the Mac Tools team more frustration. Melanie Troxel upset Kalitta in the opening round of competition to end his day early. Troxel's 4.759-second, 307.09 mph lap was too much for Kalitta's cylinder-dropping, 6.149-second, 128.01 mph attempt.
"That is the way our sport is sometimes," Oberhofer said. "One minute you are on top of the world, and the next minute you may be hanging your head. Our Mac Tools team is excited about the level of performance we saw from our racecar in qualifying. We know we have all the elements in place to win every time we get on the track. We will regroup and head to Phoenix."
The 2003 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series 23-event schedule resumes for its second national event of the season in Phoenix, Ariz., for the Checker Shuck's Kragen NHRA Nationals at Firebird International Raceway, Feb. 20-23.