Kalitta dominates in Reading for first victory of 2002. Reading, Penn., Sept. 16, 2002 - Final eliminations of the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway were delayed until Monday because of persistent rain Sunday. After a season of ...
Kalitta dominates in Reading for first victory of 2002.
Reading, Penn., Sept. 16, 2002 - Final eliminations of the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway were delayed until Monday because of persistent rain Sunday. After a season of misfortune and missed opportunities for Doug Kalitta and the Mac Tools/Kalitta Motorsports Top Fuel dragster team, an extra day to wait for their first trip to the winner's circle this year was only a matter of time.
Kalitta not only took his first trophy of 2002 on Monday, but he and the Mac Tools team dominated their Top Fuel competitors, including three of the top five contenders in NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series championship points.
"This is one of the most satisfying wins of my career," said Kalitta after claiming his ninth career NHRA national event win. "The Mac Tools dragster was an awesome hot rod to drive today. We were finally able to show our fans and our sponsors that our race car is one of the best out there."
Kalitta qualified sixth with a strong 4.594-second, 317.57 mph pass to set up a first round match-up with Bruce Litton on Sunday. After Kalitta (4.587 seconds, 321.58 mph) disposed of Litton (6.662 seconds, 124.68 mph), the remnants of Tropical Storm Hanna began moving through the Reading area and racing was suspended until Monday morning.
When racing resumed for the second round of eliminations, Kalitta rolled to the line with the points leader, Larry Dixon, Jr., in the opposite lane. Kalitta used a 4.590-second, 316.15 mph blast to overpower Dixon's Miller Lite dragster (4.632 seconds, 314.90 mph) for the fist time in four meetings this season.
"Beating one of the beer cars is always tough. Dixon and that team have had our number so far this year, so getting by them was a great boost for our Mac Tools team," said Kalitta.
In the semi-finals, Darrell Russell became the next to fall to Team Kalitta as the Mac Tools dragster continued to run consistently in the mid-four second range with another impressive performance of 4.587 seconds at 319.67 mph. Russell ran well, but his 4.677-second, 302.96 mph pass was just not enough against Kalitta, who knew he had the best dragster on the track this race day.
"Connie (Kalitta, crew chief) and Jim (Oberhofer, co-crew chief) had our car running on a rail in Reading," said Kalitta. "It was really fun to go to the starting line each time knowing that our car was going to give me an incredible ride. Our Mac Tools dragster team proved to everyone that we could run with, and even outrun, the best in the business."
Next in line for Team Kalitta were Kenny Bernstein and the Budweiser King team in the finals. Kalitta and Bernstein had met at the tree five times previously in 2002, with Bernstein holding a 5-0 advantage. Kalitta knew that he was facing a formidable opponent in the last stanza.
"Racing one of those beer cars at an event is tough, but racing against both on the same day is daunting. We knew that we were running well, but we also knew that Bernstein and his team would come to line ready to attack," said Kalitta.
Kalitta's drive for the title would not be denied as he used a remarkable .466-second reaction time and his best run of eliminations, 4.560 seconds at 320.51 mph, to defeat Bernstein's 4.581-second, 322.11 mph effort.
"I am so proud of Doug and our entire Mac Tools/Kalitta Motorsports dragster team," said Oberhofer. "Doug drove our hot rod superbly today and, our team stayed focused on the prize even with an extra day in the mix. Mac Tools and all of our sponsors have been so supportive of our team even when we were down this year. It is awesome to win this one for them. We have momentum now and we want more event wins. We want to be a thorn in the side of those beer cars and the rest of our competitors for the remainder of the season."
After 18 of 23 National Events, Doug is 6th in NHRA POWERade Top Fuel Championship points.