Seattle: Kalitta Racing preview

Team Kalitta swings to Seattle for next NHRA title chance Seattle, Wash., July 22, 2004 -- The Kalitta Motorsports Top Fuel drag racing team is finally bearing the fruits of three-car labor. At the previous two NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series...

Team Kalitta swings to Seattle for next NHRA title chance

Seattle, Wash., July 22, 2004 -- The Kalitta Motorsports Top Fuel drag racing team is finally bearing the fruits of three-car labor. At the previous two NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series events in Denver and St. Louis, Scott Kalitta, driver of the radically decorated Mac Tools/Jesse James Top Fuel dragster, and his cousin Doug Kalitta, driver of the bright red Mac Tools flagship hot rod, have taken home title trophies respectively. If the trend continues at the next event in Seattle, the CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals at Pacific Raceways, July 23-25, it will be Team Kalitta's third Top Fuel rail, the Kalitta Air entry driven by "Aussie Dave" Grubnic, that will roll into the winner's circle. However, any one of the three winning is just fine with all of them.

"We're a team," Scott, who has now won 16 NHRA events and was Top Fuel World Champion in 1994 and 1995, said. "When one of us wins, we all win. In Denver when we pulled the car back into the pits after the semifinals, Doug's and Dave's [crew] guys were all standing by our trailer ready to help. That's what being a team is all about. I'm sure they would've rather been going rounds with us, but since they weren't, it was great to see them standing there ready to help our Mac Tools/Jesse James guys get our car ready for the final.

"Winning was a big boost for our team. Now that the monkey is off our backs, maybe we can settle in and win a few more this year."

Scott's win in Denver was his first since returning from a five-year retirement at last year's Mac Tools U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis. It was his first victory since Topeka 1997. The win also helped Scott leap from eighth to fourth in Top Fuel championship points.

Teammate Doug, a 17-time event winner and holder of the quickest (4.420 seconds -- Chicago 1, 2004) and fastest (335.57 mph -- Las Vegas 1, 2004) runs in NHRA history is optimistic about the new racing surface on the dragstrip at Pacific Raceways.

"I've heard nothing but good things so far about the resurfacing," Doug said. "It used to be really bumpy, but I've heard from a few people that the new surface is very smooth. Hopefully, we can have some great racing for the fans and get our Mac Tools car back in the winner's circle and back into the points lead.

Doug is currently second in points after relinquishing the lead to Tony Schumacher due to a second round loss in Denver. Doug, last season's championship runner-up, is only 28 points behind Schumacher thanks, in part, to Scott's victory over the new leader in Denver's title round.

Doug was runner-up in Seattle last year to defending Top Fuel World Champion Larry Dixon.

"It will also be interesting to see how the new 85% nitro rule and our new tires will affect our cars at Pacific Raceways," Doug added. "I'm sure our guys will get a handle on everything quickly."

In response to the death of Top Fuel racer Darrell Russell during a racing accident at the event in St. Louis, the NHRA has made several rule changes involving safety for the Top Fuel and Funny Car classes including a new rear tire, required tire pressures and less potent fuel mixture of nitromethane, which drops from 90% to 85% of the mix with alcohol.

Journeyman racer "Aussie Dave" Grubnic pilots the third dragster from Kalitta Motorsports. Grubnic's jet black Kalitta Air machine was low qualifier this season at consecutive events in Phoenix and Gainesville and again in Atlanta and Joliet. He has five No. 1 qualifying positions in his ten-year career. Grubnic, a native of Brisbane, Australia, has reached the final round three times in his career, including a final round match-up with teammate Doug in St. Louis this year, but has yet to take home a title trophy. He is currently sixth in Top Fuel points. 2004 is Grubnic's first season with Kalitta Motorsports.

Team owner and drag racing legend Connie "the Bounty Hunter" Kalitta serves as crew chief for all three Team Kalitta entries. He is Doug's uncle and Scott's dad. He is assisted by co-crew chiefs Rahn Tobler (Mac Tools dragster), Jim Oberhofer (Mac Tools/Jesse James dragster) and Jon Oberhofer (Kalitta Air dragster).

The CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals in Seattle is the 14th of 23 national events in the $50 million 2004 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.

Qualifying for Sunday's 16-car final eliminations field begins with two sessions Friday for the professional classes and two more again Saturday.

Please visit www.kalittaracing.com for more information about Kalitta Motorsports.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Larry Dixon , Tony Schumacher , Doug Kalitta , Scott Kalitta , Jim Oberhofer , Jesse James