NHRA Top Fuel points leader Doug Kalitta qualifies No. 1 in Topeka; Kalitta Motorsports teammates Scott Kalitta and "Aussie Dave" Grubnic qualify No. 6 and No. 5 respectively Topeka, Kans., May 28, 2005 -- For the second time in the 2005 ...
NHRA Top Fuel points leader Doug Kalitta qualifies No. 1 in Topeka; Kalitta Motorsports teammates Scott Kalitta and "Aussie Dave" Grubnic qualify No. 6 and No. 5 respectively
Topeka, Kans., May 28, 2005 -- For the second time in the 2005 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series and for the 25th time in his career, Top Fuel points leader Doug Kalitta, driver of the Mac Tools flagship Top Fueler will begin Sunday's final eliminations as the No. 1 qualifier.
At the O'Reilly NHRA Summer Nationals at Heartland Park Topeka in Topeka, Kans., Kalitta Motorsports' NHRA-only three-car Top Fuel dragster team of Doug, his cousin Scott Kalitta and "Aussie Dave" Grubnic all qualified for the top-half of the 16-car eliminations ladder.
Two-time championship points runner-up (2003-2004) and 2004 Topeka title runner-up Doug, 40, made his best lap down the quarter-mile of Heartland Park Topeka with a 4.505-second, 329.26-mph lap in Friday's first qualifying session. The posted time held up through another qualifying session Friday and two more Saturday to give Doug the top spot. He will race No. 16 qualifier Scott Palmer in round one of eliminations. Doug is 2-0 versus Palmer in his career.
"I wasn't so sure that our time would hold up," Doug said. "The competition out here is really great.
"We'll just see what we can do tomorrow. Race day is always different. You can never count on how well you qualify, but my Mac Tools team has really been doing a great job this year, so I'm sure we'll be set to go for another final tomorrow."
Doug will be vying for his fifth consecutive NHRA final-round Sunday. He has made the title round at the previous four national events in Las Vegas, Bristol, Tenn., Atlanta and Columbus, Ohio.
Doug is an eight-year Top Fuel veteran and former USAC National Sprint Car Champion (1994). He owns 22 NHRA national event trophies. He has three wins so far in 2005 (Gainesville, Fla., Bristol and Atlanta).
Two-time Top Fuel World Champion (1994-1995) and Doug's Cousin Scott Kalitta, 43, driver of the Mac Tools/Jesse James Top Fuel dragster, qualified No. 6 (4.561 sec., 327.90 mph). He will race No. 11 qualifier Cory McClenathan in round one of eliminations. Scott is 9-17 versus McClenathan in his career.
Scott, who has won a Topeka event a Top Fuel-record six times, struggled in both Friday qualifying sessions with two tire-shaking 12 + second runs, but rebounded nicely to make two respectable laps in Saturday's hotter and trickier track conditions.
"We're certainly happy with what we did today," Scott's co-crew chief Jim Oberhofer said. "The track was so good Friday that we were having trouble getting enough power to apply to it.
"It's kind of funny. Our car is starting to like hotter conditions, which is unusual for a car from the Kalitta camp, but with the summer races now upon us, I'm not complaining. Hopefully, it will keep liking the heat, and we can get back to winning races."
Scott, who won the opening event of the 2005 season in Pomona, Calif., in February, is currently eighth in championship points. He has 17 (16 Top Fuel, 1 Funny Car) NHRA national event victories in his 24-year career.
The Kalitta cousins teammate Grubnic, driver of the Zantrex-3 Top Fuel hot rod, qualified No. 5 (4.549 seconds, 318.54 mph). He will race No. 12 qualifier John Smith in round one of eliminations. Grubnic is 5-2 versus Smith in his career.
Grubnic made four smooth and practically trouble-free laps in qualifying (4.581, 4.549, 4.613 and 4.748 sec.).
"Jon (Oberhofer, co-crew chief) has been concerned because we've been having problems getting down the track some on Fridays," Grubnic said. "I'm not sure why that has been lately, but we seem to have a fix on it now.
"We got down the track pretty good both days. We had a cylinder drop in the last session, but other than that, everything went fairly according to plan.
"I'm ready to go out there and go for my first win. My guys deserve it and so do all my sponsors. I'm feeling really confident this weekend. I hope this will be our weekend to celebrate in the winner's circle."
Fifth place championship points holder and native Australian Grubnic, 42, the $100,000 Budweiser Shootout special event winner last fall in Las Vegas, has made seven final-round appearances in his 11-year career but has not yet won an NHRA national event.
The O'Reilly NHRA Summer Nationals is the ninth of 23 national events in the 2005 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.
Sunday's final eliminations begin with the Top Fuel class at 11:00 a.m.