Sonoma: Kalitta Motorsports preview

Kalitta cousins taking different paths but same goal into Sonoma NHRA event Sonoma, Calif., July 28, 2004 - Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster driver Doug Kalitta is having an atypical NHRA Western Swing. After several years of successes in the...

Kalitta cousins taking different paths but same goal into Sonoma NHRA event

Sonoma, Calif., July 28, 2004 - Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster driver Doug Kalitta is having an atypical NHRA Western Swing. After several years of successes in the grueling three-races-in-three-weekends stint, he finds himself headed to the final stop of the triple-header in Sonoma, Calif., this weekend, July 30 - Aug. 1, with only one round win in the previous two Swing events in Denver and Seattle.

But, the good news is, he has always done well at the Fram Autolite NHRA Nationals at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma. In fact, it's the site of his first NHRA win in his Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award-winning rookie season of 1998, which began a dominance of the scenic Northern California dragstrip with wins there again the following two years.

Doug, 39, has two victories thus far in the $50 million, 23-event 2004 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series (Chicago 1 and St. Louis). He has 17 wins in his seven-year career, and he holds time slips for the quickest (4.420 seconds - Chicago 1, 2004) and fastest (335.57 mph - Las Vegas 1, 2004) runs in NHRA history.

"Sonoma has been great for us in the past," Doug said. "We need to get back on track and hopefully Sonoma will be the place. We've struggled a little lately and lost the points lead. We want it back. Being second stinks. We're all out here to win the championship. Records and wins are all great, but they're not the goal. We finished second in points last year. I want the number one on my car next season."

Doug is second in Top Fuel championship points, 110 behind leader Tony Schumacher. Doug led the points for the first time in his career after the St. Louis event, but lost the lead to Schumacher at the next event in Denver.

His cousin and teammate Scott Kalitta, driver of the Mac Tools/Jesse James Top Fuel hot rod, is having a much better trip through the Western Swing. He won the event in Denver, his first win since returning from a five-year hiatus at least season's Mac Tools U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis and his first since Topeka 1997. His semi-final appearance at the previous race in Seattle gives him six round wins out of a possible eight so far on the Swing.

Due to his recent successes, Scott, 42, has moved from eighth to fourth in points in just the past two events. He is 301 points shy of the lead. He has 16 career NHRA victories (15 Top Fuel, 1 Funny Car).

"Hopefully we can keep up this momentum," Scott said. "Our Mac Tools/Jesse James team is really working well together and it shows. We're pretty far behind in points, but anything can happen. Maybe we can get caught up to Doug and get a family rivalry going for the championship. That would be fun."

Doug and Scott's teammate and driver of the third Kalitta Motorsports Top Fuel dragster "Aussie Dave" Grubnic will drive a specially painted Red Line Oil entry in Sonoma in celebration of the California-based company's 25th anniversary.

Grubnic's final-round appearance in Seattle was his second of 2004 and fourth of the journeyman's Top Fuel career. He is currently fifth in points, 328 off the lead.

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 Fram Autolite NHRA Nationals in Sonoma is the 15th event of the 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.

-km-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Scott Kalitta , Jim Oberhofer , Jesse James