Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals
Grubnic enjoying career year
Reading, prerace: NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Top Fuel championship contender Doug Kalitta, driver of the Mac Tools dragster, leads his Kalitta Motorsports teammates "Aussie Dave" Grubnic, driver of the Zantrex-3 Top Fuel dragster, and cousin Scott Kalitta, driver of the Mac Tools/Jesse James Top Fuel dragster, into southeastern Pennsylvania this weekend for some ground-shaking quarter-mile racing in the Keystone State at Maple Grove Raceway at the Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals, Sept. 15-18.
Entering the event in
"This thing is really getting a bit nerve-wracking," Kalitta said of his points battle with the reigning champ. "We only have a handful of races to go and it's very close. [Larry]
"I would really like to get a couple of more wins before the season is through, and I think we are more than capable of doing that, but mainly, I hope we can stay consistent and win rounds. If we can make semis or better in these last five races, we'll be right there in contention, but we have to stay on top of our game as a team at all times and stay focused on our individual tasks. That definitely includes me."
Doug was the 2002 event winner at Maple Grove Raceway and the No. 1 qualifier there last season. He also holds the timeslip for the quickest run in NHRA history (4.420 sec. -
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
Grubnic and Scott have different points considerations on their minds heading into Maple Grove Raceway. The veteran teammates are currently tied for sixth place (2,675) in Budweiser Shootout points with eighth place dweller Cory McClenathan only 15 points behind them.
Eight Top Fuel qualifiers will race for a $100,000 prize in the Budweiser Shootout, a special event during the second Las Vegas NHRA event, coming up October 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, so it is important for Grubnic and Scott to remain in the top seven to guarantee their spots in the big money show.
"Getting that guaranteed position is very important to us," Grubnic said. "We certainly don't want to take our chances with the luck of the draw to get into it.
"Our Zantrex-3 team has struggled lately in qualifying (No. 11 and No. 13 at the previous two events). That is uncharacteristic for this team, so I'm sure we'll get back to getting up higher in the (qualifying) ladder. Hopefully, that will start with a low qualifier award this weekend in
Scott mirrored his teammate's intentions, "We just need to qualify better. There are only three races left before [Las] Vegas, so we need to go for it. We need to go for it in qualifying and on race day and try to win a couple more Wallys (trophies) before the year ends."
Native Australian Grubnic, 43, won the Budweiser Shootout last fall in
Two-time Top Fuel World Champion and Doug's cousin Scott, 43, won the event in
Scott won the opening event of the 2005 season in
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