CHANDLER, Ariz. (Oct. 13, 2011) – Kalitta Motorsports will field all four of its nitro-fueled, 8,000-horsepower hot rods this weekend at the annual running of the NHRA Arizona Nationals at Firebird Int’l Raceway in Chandler, Ariz., just a few miles outside of the Phoenix city limits.
The massive, Michigan-based team helmed by NHRA drag racing legend and pioneer Connie “the Bounty Hunter” Kalitta competes in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series, the world’s quickest and fastest auto racing championship series, with the Candlewood Suites Top Fuel dragster driven by native Australian David Grubnic, the Tequila Patrón Toyota Camry Funny Car driven by newcomer Alexis DeJoria, the DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car driven by native Canadian Jeff Arend, and the Technicoat Top Fuel dragster driven by Connie’s nephew Doug Kalitta.
This weekend in Phoenix, Grubnic, a 48-year old resident of Bozeman, Mont., will drive the specially-decorated Candlewood Suites Top Fuel dragster. Grubnic and his team also flew the banner for Team Kalitta’s first-year partner, Candlewood Suites, at NHRA national events in Atlanta, Chicago, and Indianapolis.
Also this weekend, Grubnic and the Candlewood Suites team will welcome the winners of the Honorary Pit Crew Member Sweepstakes held earlier this season to commemorate Candlewood Suites’ inaugural foray as a primary and associate sponsor of Grubnic and Kalitta Motorsports.
Grubnic and the Candlewood Suites team go into Phoenix coming off an impressive semi-final finish at the previous event in Reading, Pa., his second trip to the semis this season. He posted a Top Fuel runner-up showing in Phoenix in 2008, and he was the No. 1 qualifier for the event at Firebird Int’l Raceway in 2004. Grubnic is currently in eighth place in Top Fuel Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship points (2136).
DeJoria and the Tequila Patrón Toyota Camry Funny Car team will be making only their second appearance in the 2011 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series in Phoenix. She previously competed at the Dallas event last month.
DeJoria, a 34-year old resident of Venice, Calif., is one of only a very few female drivers currently competing in the ultra-competitive NHRA Funny Car class. In order to be considered as “rookie” for the 2012 season, DeJoria is only allowed to compete in four events this season. She and the Tequila Patrón Toyota Camry Funny Car team will also compete at the final two events of the season in Las Vegas later this month and in Pomona, Calif. next month.
DeJoria begins her eagerly anticipated career in Funny Car this year after several years of successful competition in the Top Alcohol Funny Car class, including a recent win at the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Northwest Nationals in Seattle.
Like his teammate Grubnic, Arend, a 48-year old resident of San Dimas, Calif., also rolls into Phoenix with the momentum of racing to the semifinals in Reading.
Arend and the DHL team have one event win this season (Houston) and have advanced to at least the semifinals at five events in 2011 so far. He is currently in eighth place in Funny Car Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship points (2168) and will finish in the top ten this season for the first time in his 17-year Funny Car racing career.
Doug , a 47 year-old resident of Ann Arbor, Mich., is quite familiar with racing in the final round in Phoenix. He won the Top Fuel title trophy in 2001 and posted runner-up finishes in 2004 and last year. He raced his 300+mph Top Fueler to the No. 1 qualifying position in Phoenix in 2003.
Doug has raced to the semifinals four times so far in 2011. He leads Team Kalitta with 32 career Top Fuel event wins in 64 final-round appearances.
Doug and the Technicoat team are currently in seventh place in Top Fuel Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship points (2165). He will finish in the top ten in Full Throttle points for the 14th consecutive season this year (every year since his Top Fuel career began in 1998).
The NHRA Arizona Nationals begin Friday for the nitro-fueled classes with two qualifying sessions at 2:00 p.m. (PT) and 4:30 p.m. Two more qualifying attempts will take place on Saturday at noon and 2:30 p.m. The top 16 qualified cars in each pro class will race Sunday in final eliminations beginning at 11:00 a.m.
Times and dates subject to change.
ESPN2 TV Schedule
10/16 – Qualifying 12:30 A.M.-2:00 A.M.
10/16 – Eliminations 7:00 P.M.-10:00 P.M.
10/20 – Re-air Eliminations 3:00 A.M.-4:30 A.M.
Times and dates subject to change.
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 Toyota Camry Funny Car for the team. Newly added in the fall of 2011, Alexis DeJoria pilots the Tequila Patrón Toyota Camry Funny Car. 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. Oberhofer also serves as crew chief for the Tequila Patrón team. 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