Monday, June 18, 2012

Kalitta and DeJoria Post Runner-Up Nitro Finishes in Bristol

Team Kalitta teammates Doug Kalitta, driver of the Kalitta Air Top Fuel dragster, and Rookie of the Year contender Alexis DeJoria, driver of the Tequila Patrón Toyota Camry Funny Car, both raced to runner-up finishes in Sunday’s final eliminations of the Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway in Bristol, Tenn.

Kalitta, a 47-year old resident of Ann Arbor, Mich. and three-time Top Fuel champion at Bristol Dragway (2006, 2005 and 2001), qualified his 8,000-horsepower, 320+mph dragster in a season-high No. 4 (3.835 seconds, 321.81 mph) starting position for today’s eliminations. He defeated Khalid alBalooshi and Bruce Litton en route to a semi-final match up with Antron Brown. For the fourth consecutive event, Kalitta defeated Brown, 3.831 sec., 320.51 mph to 3.842 sec., 322.88 mph.

The final round was a rematch of the 2009 and 2001 Top Fuel finals of Kalitta versus Tony Schumacher. Schumacher won in 2009 and Kalitta won in 2001. In this year’s version, Kalitta got away from the starting line with a very good .065-second reaction time, but Schumacher used an almost-psychic .023-second start to get a close win over Kalitta on a holeshot, 3.802 sec., (not valid data for speed) to 3.819 sec., 324.28 mph.

Kalitta’s trip to the final today was his first trip to the “money round” of the 2012 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series and his first since a runner-up posting at the fall event in Charlotte in 2010.

Kalitta has 32 wins in 65 final round appearances in his career.

Kalitta remains in the No. 6 position in Full Throttle Top Fuel championship points.

With 2011 Top Fuel World Champion Del Worsham at the helm of the Tequila Patrón flopper as crew chief, DeJoria reached the first final round of her inaugural season at the controls of a nitro-fueled Funny Car.

DeJoria qualified in the No. 15 (4.156 sec., 300 mph) spot for Sunday’s Funny Car eliminations. She upset Mike Neff, Kalitta Motorsports teammate Jeff Arend, and Jack Beckman to get to the final round to race Ron Capps.

In the final, the Tequila Patrón Toyota Camry Funny Car, launched great but faded behind before half track when it lost traction and allowed Capps to get the win, 5.232 sec., 144.15 mph to 4.076 sec., 312.35 mph.

DeJoria moves up to 13th place in Full Throttle Funny Car championship points.

Native Canadian Arend, a 49-year old resident of San Dimas, Calif., qualified the DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car in the No. 7 position for eliminations. He defeated Jim Head in the first round before having his day ended early by DeJoria in round two in a stunningly close race, 4.182 sec., 301.67 mph to 4.172 sec., 302.35 mph. The margin of victory at the finish line was a scant .001 seconds.

Arend and the DHL “Yella Fellas” have reached two semifinals so far in 2012 (Atlanta and Houston). They remain in 10th place in Full Throttle Funny Car points.

Native Australian Grubnic, a 49-year old resident of Bozeman, Mont., raced the special-edition Rocky Boots “Rocky Rocket” Top Fueler in Bristol. He qualified in the No. 10 (3.856 sec., 316.30 mph) spot for Top Fuel eliminations. He was defeated by No. 7 qualifier Spencer Massey in the first round, 6.331 sec., 96.46 mph to 3.824 sec., 324.98 mph.

Grubnic has one win so far in 2012 (Topeka, Kan.) and remains in ninth place in Full Throttle Top Fuel points.

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