Kalitta knows he needs to do well in Indy to make the Countdown to 1

8/25/2008

 
Doug Kalitta

Mac Tools driver Doug Kalitta knows that he must do well at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals to maintain his position in the top 10 of the Countdown to the Championship. A win at his sponsor's race would be the icing on the cake.

Kalitta was on a high two years ago when he nearly won the POWERade Series world championship only to lose it to Tony Schumacher on the final run of the season. In 2007, Kalitta had a difficult season, but 2008 seems to be a turnaround year. He is 10th in the points and looking to move on to the Countdown to 1.

"The determination by our crew, Jon Oberhofer, Nicky Boninfante, and our entire Kalitta Motorsports team to get our Mac Tools dragster running well this season is relentless," said Kalitta. "There are a lot of things riding on running our best in Indy ... staying in the top 10, representing our sponsor the best we can at their race, and just the fact that it's Indy. It's the biggest race of the year and the Wally that drivers want on their mantel."

Though Kalitta could be spotting Top Fuel points leader Schumacher a nearly 110-point lead, he feels that this is not a mountain he can't climb.

"You can't discount everything that Alan Johnson has done with the U.S. Army dragster.  They've had a remarkable year, but with the Countdown to 1 in place, it could be anyone's game," said Kalitta.

The Mac Tools U.S. Nationals is the 18th of 24 events in the POWERade Drag Racing Series and the final event for racers to earn their way into the NHRA playoffs, the Countdown to 1. It will be held from Aug. 27 to Labor Day, Sept. 1. ESPN2 and ESPN2HD will televise more than 10 hours of racing.

Defending event winner and U.S. Army dragster driver Schumacher has had his No. 1 position in Top Fuel clinched since the Fram Autolite NHRA Nationals in Sonoma, but he knows that many other racers are looking for a win at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at O'Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis.

Coming into the race, Schumacher has 10 wins in 2008. He has won five of those races consecutively beginning in Denver. Both of these marks tie Top Fuel season records held by Schumacher. He is also only one win shy of tying Joe Amato's record of 52 Top Fuel wins.

In addition to doing well this season, Schumacher is looking for his third consecutive and seventh win in Indianapolis. The next closest person in wins at O'Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis is U.S. Smokeless Tobacco driver Larry Dixon with three. His last win was in 2005.

With one race left in the regular season before the playoffs, some racers need to perform well to either stay in the top 10 or to make their move into the top 10. One whose fate rests in his own hands is Morgan Lucas, driver of the Lucas Oil dragster. He is six points behind Kalitta and 10 points behind the ninth-place driver of the DHL dragster, Dave Grubnic.

Antron Brown, who drove a Pro Stock Motorcycle for the past 10 years, made the switch to Top Fuel this year, and he has been hot. In the first part of the season, he qualified No. 1 at the season opener in Pomona and earned wins in Houston and Atlanta.

Hillary Will, driver of the KB Racing dragster and one of three women to win this season, is quietly lurking in seventh place. She earned her first win this season in Topeka. Will has the weight lifted off her of getting that first win, but winning the world championship would be a crowning moment.



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