Las Vegas II: Kalitta Motorsports preview
NHRA's Team Kalitta seeking a second, a bit of luck and a tribute in Las Vegas Las Vegas, Nev., (Oct. 18, 2005) - NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Top Fuel drivers and Kalitta Motorsports teammates Doug Kalitta, Dave Grubnic and Scott Kalitta are ...
NHRA's Team Kalitta seeking a second, a bit of luck and a tribute in Las Vegas
Las Vegas, Nev., (Oct. 18, 2005) - NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Top Fuel drivers and Kalitta Motorsports teammates Doug Kalitta, Dave Grubnic and Scott Kalitta are all anxious to see the flashing bright lights of the famed Las Vegas strip this weekend in the Nevada desert, but they are all equally eager, yet uniquely motivated, to see win lights at the end of The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway at the ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals, Oct. 20-23.
Eight Top Fuel qualifiers will also race at The Strip for a $100,000 prize in the Budweiser Shootout, a special event held annually at the fall Las Vegas event. This year's running will be held Saturday, Oct. 22. The Shootout field is restricted to eight racers based on qualifying points earned at the NHRA national events completed since the previous year's Shootout. The top seven points earners are guaranteed a spot in the show; the eighth position will be determined by lottery from the eighth through 15th qualifiers.
Doug earned the second most amount of Budweiser Shootout points over the past year to guarantee his spot in the exclusive field. He is a two-time champion of the special event (1998 and 2003).
Entering the Las Vegas event, the next to last event of 2005, Doug, driver of the Mac Tools flagship dragster, sits in third place in POWERade championship points, just three points behind second place holder Larry Dixon. Tony Schumacher will clinch the 2005 Top Fuel championship by making one qualifying attempt in Las Vegas.
Doug is the defending event champion at the ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals. He defeated Morgan Lucas in last fall's final round at The Strip. Doug also had a runner-up finish at the spring event in Las Vegas this year, and he made a runner-up run in the spring of 2003. He won the low qualifier award at both of the previous events mentioned. Doug holds the track record for speed at The Strip, 335.57 (April 2004).
"We're concentrating on winning rounds and taking over second in the points now," Doug said. "Congratulations to Tony and Alan [Johnson] and everyone involved with that team.
"I would be lying if I said I'm not disappointed. We have had one of our best years ever, but we just came up short in our goal of winning the championship. We've won five races so far this year, and that's the most we've ever won in a season, so we're very proud of that. Hopefully, we can get a couple more in these last two races and end our great season on some high notes. Maybe we can get another Shootout win too."
Two-time Top Fuel championship points runner-up (2003-2004) Doug, 41, is an eight-year Top Fuel veteran and former USAC National Sprint Car Champion (1994). He owns 24 NHRA national event trophies. His wins so far in 2005 were in Gainesville, Fla., Bristol, Tenn., Atlanta, Sonoma and Brainerd. His five wins in 2005 is a career-best mark for the Ann Arbor, Mich., resident.
Dave Grubnic, driver of the newly decorated StriVectin-SD Top Fueler, is looking for some Las Vegas luck before the weekend's events even start. Dave, along with seven other of his Top Fuel comrades, will participate in a special drawing to determine who will get the eighth and final spot in the Budweiser Shootout field. Grubnic is the defending champion of the Shootout and fervently wants to be able to defend his title.
"Man, I just have to get that last spot," Grubnic, who earned the eighth most amount of Shootout points over the past year, exclaimed. "I really hate it that it has come to getting into the Shootout with the luck of the draw as our only shot, but hopefully we'll get the lucky pick and get our chance to defend.
"We're also hoping to go some rounds on Sunday. We're in fourth in [championship] points right now, but between us and Brandon [Bernstein] in seventh there is only a 47-point gap, and that's not a lot. We need to go rounds and get points in [Las] Vegas and Pomona (Calif., last 2005 event) to hold fast to our fourth spot."
Grubnic and Kalitta Motorsports announced last week that they and StriVectin-SD, a high-end cosmetic product, have signed a three-year primary sponsorship agreement for Grubnic's dragster. Zantrex-3 will remain with Kalitta Motorsports as an associate sponsor on all three dragsters.
The Budweiser Shootout Draw Party, hosted by NHRA announcer Bob Frey, will be held at The Joint, inside the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, at 7:00 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 20.
On Wednesday, Oct. 19, Grubnic will try his hand playing poker for charity along with other NHRA stars at the Second Annual Speedway Children's Charities Texas Hold'em Poker Tournament for the Las Vegas Chapter of Speedway Children's Charities. The tournament will be held at The Club showroom, inside The Cannery Hotel and Casino. The Cannery is located at 2121 East Craig Road, at the intersection of Craig Rd. and Losee Rd. The tournament begins at 7:00 p.m.
Native Australian and current Ennis, Mont., resident Grubnic, 43, made history May 29th in Topeka, Kans., by becoming the first non-North American to win an NHRA Top Fuel national event. The win in Topeka was Grubnic's first in his 11-year career.
Two-time Top Fuel World Champion (1994-1995) Scott Kalitta, driver of the Mac Tools/Jesse James Top Fuel dragster, has a special, yet unfortunate, reason for wanting to see win lights in Las Vegas. Scott's mother, Ms. Marianne McGee of Florida, passed away Saturday, Oct. 15, after a three-year battle with cancer. She was 64. Ms. McGee was just five days shy of her birthday.
"Mom always had mixed emotions about me racing as any mom would," Scott said. "All in all though, she was behind me racing because she felt like she had to be. She followed me and the sport religiously and was always quick to point out to me if I had done something good or something bad.
"It's going to be very hard to keep my mind on racing this weekend, but I want to go out there and win one for mom. I really want to win the Shootout and the race and double-up for her memory, but I'll be very happy with either one."
If a driver wins the Budweiser Shootout on Saturday and then follows that win with an ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals event win on Sunday, that driver "doubles-up" and gets a $50,000 bonus from the NHRA.
Scott, Doug's cousin, earned the seventh most amount of Budweiser Shootout points over the past year to get the final guaranteed spot in the field. He won the special event in 1996.
Scott holds the track elapsed time record at The Strip, 4.472 (April 2004). Scott was the No. 1 qualifier at both events in Las Vegas in 2004.
Scott, 43, won the opening event of the 2005 season in Pomona, Calif., in February, and took the Top Fuel trophy in Joliet, Ill., in early June. He has 18 (17 Top Fuel, 1 Funny Car) NHRA national event victories in his 24-year career. The Snead Island, Fla., resident is currently eighth in championship points.
The ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA Nationals begins Friday, Oct. 21, for the Top Fuel class with two qualifying sessions at 1:00 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Round one of the Budweiser Shootout (also a qualifying round) begins at 1:00 p.m. Saturday. Round two of the Budweiser Shootout begins at 3:15 p.m. The final qualifying session begins at 4:30 p.m. The final qualifying session will be immediately followed by the Budweiser Shootout final round. The top sixteen qualified cars will race Sunday in final eliminations beginning at 11:00 a.m.
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