DENVER, Col., (July 20, 2011) – Native Canadian Jeff Arend, driver of the bright yellow and red, 8,000-horsepower DHL Funny Car, raced to his second semi-final round appearance of the 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series Sunday during final eliminations of the annual running of the Mile-High NHRA Nationals on “Thunder Mountain”, Bandimere Speedway, just a few miles from downtown Denver.
Arend, who has one event victory so far this season with the DHL “Yella Fellas” in Houston, qualified the DHL Funny Car in the No. 8 spot (4.246 seconds, 293.92 mph) for “flopper” eliminations. He defeated No. 2 Full Throttle points holder Jack Beckman in round one and No. 1 qualifier for the event Cruz Pedregon in the second round.
In the semifinals, Arend, a 48-year old resident of San Dimas, Calif., rolled to the starting line to race against 15-time Funny Car world champion John Force. In the seventh semi-final showing of his 17-year NHRA Funny Car career, Arend left the starting line dead even with the “champ”, but the DHL racer fell victim to traction woes soon thereafter and Force was able to get the win, 5.154 sec., 188.12 mph to 4.294 sec., 289.01 mph.
“Not a bad day on the mountain for our DHL team,” Arend said. “Our car has been so much more consistent this season and that has been all the difference. We just keep finding a way to go a few rounds here and there. I’m really proud of all of the DHL crewman and our co-crew chiefs Jon Oberhofer and Nicky Boninfante in the gigantic turnaround in performance that we’ve made this year.”
Arend and the DHL team now have 15 elimination-round wins in the 2011 season with ten events remaining on the schedule. That mark is one more than the total amount of round wins the DHL team claimed in 2010.
Arend maintains his hold on the No. 6 spot in Full Throttle Funny Car championship points.
Arend’s Kalitta Motorsports Top Fuel teammates Doug Kalitta and David Grubnic were defeated in the second and first rounds respectively today in their class’s eliminations.
Kalitta, a 46-year old resident of Ann Arbor, Mich., qualified his Kalitta Air Top Fueler in the No. 3 spot (3.973 sec., 312.21 mph) for eliminations, marking his best starting effort of the 2011 season. In the opening round, Kalitta posted the third quickest lap of the stanza with a 4.018-sec., 302.35-mph run when he defeated Morgan Lucas (4.610 sec., 192.33 mph).
In the quarterfinals, Kalitta matched up against Rod Fuller. Both drivers’ rails had traction troubles on the tricky and slick 1,000 ft. track at Bandimere, but Fuller was able to sneak by Kalitta at the finish line to get the very close win, 4.158 sec., 285.23 to 4.116 sec., 288.03.
Kalitta remains in sixth place in Full Throttle Top Fuel championship points.
Native Australian and 48-year old Ennis, Mont. resident Grubnic, driver of Team Kalitta’s other Kalitta Air Top Fuel dragster, qualified his hot rod in the No. 12 slot for Sunday’s eliminations. He faced off against No. 5 qualifier Shawn Langdon (4.042 sec., 305.36 mph) in the first round. Both machines struggled to get traction, but Grubnic’s Kalitta Air race car struggled the most as Langdon got the win, 4.459 sec., 243.28 mph to 4.242 sec., 259.96 mph.
Grubnic holds on to the No. 10 spot in points, but is now only eight points ahead of 11th place driver Bob Vandergriff, Jr.
About Kalitta Motorsports
Based in Ypsilanti, Mich., Kalitta Motorsports is a Top Fuel and Funny Car drag racing team in the NHRA (National Hot Rod Association) Full Throttle Drag Racing Series. The team was founded and is owned by drag racing icon Connie “the Bounty Hunter” Kalitta. For more than 50 years, Connie has been involved in the sport as a driver, tuner, and an owner. Kalitta Motorsports is one of the most successful teams in the history of auto racing with five world championships and over 50 national event titles in five different professional drag racing sanctioning bodies since it was established by Connie in 1959.
Jeff Arend drives the DHL Funny Car for the team. Connie’s nephew, Doug Kalitta, drives the Kalitta Air Top Fuel dragster entry while Dave Grubnic drives the team’s second Top Fueler under the banner of Kalitta Air as well. Connie serves as head tuner for all Team Kalitta entries. He is assisted by crew chief Jim Oberhofer and assistant crew chief Troy Fasching on Doug’s Top Fueler and by co-crew chiefs Jon Oberhofer and Nick Boninfante on the DHL Funny Car. Connie serves as crew chief on the Grubnic-driven racer with help from assistant crew chief James Riola.
Associate sponsors on Kalitta Motorsports’ race cars include Candlewood Suites, ROCKY Boots, Red Line Oil, Technicoat Companies, OPTIMA Batteries, JEGS, and Mac Tools.
For more info about Kalitta Motorsports including exclusive content such as videos, photos and more, please visit www.teamkalitta.com. Follow Us on Twitter: www.twitter.com/TeamKalitta. Like Us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/KalittaMotorsports. Check out videos about Team Kalitta on our YouTube Channel: www.youtube.com/user/TeamKalitta