Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals
Grubnic wants chance to defend Bud crown
Las Vegas, prerace: 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
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).
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
"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
Dave Grubnic, driver of the newly decorated StriVectin-SD Top Fueler, is looking for some
"Man, I just have to get that last spot," said Grubnic, who earned the eighth most Shootout points over the past year. "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
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 , 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.
Native Australian and current
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
"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
Scott, 43, won the opening event of the 2005 season in
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