Friday, June 29, 2012
Team Kalitta Racing A Hot Streak To Chicago
After posting two runner-up finishes in the two quickest and fastest racing classes on Earth at the previous NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event in Bristol, Tenn. two weeks ago, the four-car nitro-fueled contingent of Kalitta Motorsports returns to action this weekend, June 28-July 1, at Route 66 Raceway for the annual running of the O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals in Joliet, Ill., just a few miles southwest of downtown Chicago.
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 their respective first final round appearances of the 2012 season in Bristol. Along with David Grubnic, driver of the Optima Batteries Top Fuel dragster, and Jeff Arend, driver of the DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car, Kalitta and DeJoria hope to continue to build on Team Kalitta’s momentum this weekend at a venue that has treated the team well over the years.
Reaching both the Top Fuel and Funny Car final at the same event has happened only twice so far in the legendary history of Kalitta Motorsports, helmed by drag racing icon and pioneer Connie “the Bounty Hunter” Kalitta. Before Bristol, the only other occurrence of this feat happened at last year’s running of the O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals with Grubnic and Arend making the “money round”.
Kalitta, a 47-year old resident of Ann Arbor, Mich., is a three-time O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals Top Fuel champion (2006, 2004 and 2002). He has amassed 32 NHRA Top Fuel title trophies in 65 final-round appearances. He has finished in the top ten in Full Throttle championship points in every season of his 15-year straight-line career. He was the 1994 USAC National Sprint Car champion.
Kalitta has also raced to four semi-final appearances in 2012, including back-to-back semis in Topeka, Kan. and Atlanta. He is currently in the No. 6 position in Full Throttle Top Fuel championship points.
Native Australian Grubnic, a 49-year old resident of Bozeman, Mont., is an 18-year Top Fuel veteran and earned his first career Top Fuel victory in Topeka in 2005, becoming the first racer born outside North America to win an NHRA Top Fuel event. He has three wins in his career in 16 final-round appearances.
Grubnic has one win so far in 2012 (Topeka) and is in ninth place in Full Throttle Top Fuel points.
Native Canadian Arend, a 49-year old resident of San Dimas, Calif., has posted three wins in eight final-round appearances in his 18-year Funny Car career. He took over the controls of the DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car for Kalitta Motorsports at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals in 2008.
Arend posted the best championship points finish of his career last year by finishing in eighth place in Full Throttle Funny Car points. He also earned a berth in the ultra-exclusive NHRA “playoffs”, the Countdown to the Championship, for the first time.
Arend and the DHL “Yella Fellas” have reached two semifinals so far in 2012 (Atlanta and Houston). They are currently in 10th place in Full Throttle Funny Car championship points.
The newest addition to the Kalitta Motorsports nitro-fueled racing stable is the Tequila Patrón Toyota Camry Funny Car driven by DeJoria. With 2011 Top Fuel World Champion Del Worsham (who defeated Grubnic in last season’s Chicago final round) at the helm of the Tequila Patrón flopper as crew chief, “Team Green” is currently in 13th place in Full Throttle Funny Car points, only 61 points away from the top ten.