I hope all of you had a great Fathers Day Weekend! I feel fortunate that I was able to spend Fathers Day at the Bristol Dragway, with Connie Kalitta, who is like a second dad to me, and a whole lot of others on the Kalitta Team! I had hoped that one of our Team Kalitta racecars would be able to give Connie a Bristol Wally as a present for Fathers Day, and it almost worked out for us!
Going into the Bristol Race, we were feeling more and more confident about our tuneup with Doug’s, Kalitta Air Dragster. During qualifying, we decided to run as many of our parts as we could, so we would be able to have a little “chess match” on Sunday. On our first qualifying run, we ran a brand new blower that showed us a ton of potential! The only problem was the it was a little to good, and we spun the tires at about 500 feet. This was ok though, as we now knew what we needed to do with it. On the Friday evening qualifying session, we were able to run a nice 3.835 at almost 322 mph, which put the Kalitta Air Dragster in the number four spot for raceday, and set up a first round race with Kahlid alBalooshi and the Al-Anabi Team. On Saturday, even though we didn’t improve our qualifying position, we ran a 3.87 and a 3.84 in the heat of the day, which was pretty good!
Grubby and his Rocky Boots Dragster Team, have also been feeling more confident with their tuneup as of late. The only hiccup that the Rocky Team had during qualifying was on their first qualifying run, as the Rocky car spun the tires early on that run. In the Friday night session, Grubby was on a very good lap, but at about 400 feet, the Rocky Boots car started to run out of steam, and was only able to run a 3.87 at 312 mph. Connie was pretty disappointed in that run, but he knew what needed to be done. In Saturdays final qualifying session, Grubby ran a very good 3.856 at 316 mph, which put Grubby and the Rocky Dragster in the number 10 spot for race day. Grubbies first round opponent would be Spencer Massey, whom Grubby beat for the Topeka Wally a couple of races ago.
Over in Kalitta Funny Car World…Alexis and her Del Worsham led Tequila Patron Team, looked to continue running consistently during qualifying, and hoped that it would translate into some much needed round wins on Sunday. In Fridays first qualifying session, Alexis ran a very good 4.20 at only 270 mph, and then in that all important Friday night session, the Tequila Toyota decided to hurt a piston early in the run, which slowed Alexis to a 4.19 at only 265 mph. Going into Saturday, Del and the Patron Team knew that they needed to run well if they were to make into the tough funny car field. On the first run, Alexis ran a very nice 4.15 at 300 mph, which put her in the show in the number 15 spot. Then, on the fourth qualifying run, Alexis made another nice pass, as a 4.16 at 304 mph popped up on the Bristol scoreboards. For raceday, Alexis would run a very tough Mike Neff in the first round.
Jeff and his DHL Toyota Team, were also looking at running some consistent times during qualifying. On Jeff’s first qualifying pass, the DHL Toyota lost a blower belt at around 600 feet, which slowed Jeff to a 4.24 at only 258 mph. Even though it wasn’t a full pass, it gave Nicky and Jon O enough information to make a good tuneup call for Friday night. On that Friday night run, Jeff ran a very nice 4.11 at 309 mph, which put Jeff in the number seven spot for raceday. On Saturday, Jeff ran a nice 4.19 on the first run, but on the second pass, there was a problem with the switch that activates all of the clutch, fuel and ignition timers, which caused the DHL Toyota to go up in smoke at about 100 feet. Either way, Jeff was looking good going into his first round race with our good friend Jim Head.
On raceday, Doug was up first for Team Kalitta, and after waiting almost an hour for the NHRA Saftey Safari to clean up a big oildown, Doug lined up against Kahlid alBalooshi. We knew that we needed to run very well, cause the Al-Anabi Team is one of the best there is, so we put that blower on we ran in the first qualifying session. At the start, Doug was on his game, and never looked back as the Kalitta Air Dragster ran a very good 3.79 at almost 324 mph, to take out the Al-Anabi Team. Doug would now move into the second round and face Bruce Litton. Grubby was up next, and was stuck in the suspect left lane for his matchup with Spencer Massey. At the start, the Rocky Boots dragster launched hard, but at about 200 feet, Grubby began to lose traction, which allowed Spencer to get the win. Even with the loss, Connie and Grubby really have a good racecar heading into the summer months, and another win would not surprise anyone!
Alexis was up first for Team Kalitta in the first round of Funny Car, and Del had the Patron Toyota tuned up for Alexis’ first round race with Mike Neff. At the start, Alexis got the quick lead and was side by side with Neff until 330 feet. Shortly afterwords, Neff’s car began to lose traction, and Alexis started to pull away. Since Alexis was in the tricky, and very bumpy left lane, the Tequila Toyota began to make a move towards the wall. Alexis needed to lift and hope that Neff wouldn’t chase her down and get the win. Neff couldn’t do it, and Alexis got the win by running a 4.29 at only 231 mph. Jeff was up next, and after having a good reaction time, Jeff and the DHL Toyota sped down the Bristol racetrack to a 4.13 at 302 mph to end Jim Head’s day. Both Jeff and Alexis made it to the second round, but would have to race each other! At least there would be a Kalitta car in the semi-finals!
For Doug’s second round race against Bruce Litton, we went back to one of our normal blowers, as we felt we needed to save the good blower for either Antron Brown or Shawn Langdon if we were fortunate enough to beat Bruce Litton. At the start, Doug had a great .034 reaction time, and along with a 3.83 at 322 mph timeslip, the Kalitta Air Dragster was off to the semi-finals to face Antron Brown for the fourth race in a row! Up next was a battle of the Kalitta Toyota Funny Cars, as Alexis and Jeff met up for the first time in eliminations. At the start, both Alexis and Jeff had good reaction times, and were side by side the whole way down the Bristol track. When it was all said and done, Alexis and her Patron Toyota lit the win light by a mere 1 thousandths of a second, by running a 4.172 to Jeff’s 4.182. Alexis was now off to her first semi-final round appearance since joining the Nitro Funny Car ranks!
In the semi-finals, we put that good blower back on for Antron Brown as we know what that team is capable of! At the start, both Doug and Antron had identical reaction times, but Doug’s Kalitta Air dragster made a pretty good move early and never looked back, as Doug took the win by running a 3.831 to Antron’s 3.842. It was very cool to beat a team of that caliber for the fourth time in a row! Alexis was up next for Team K, and her semi-final round opponent was Jack Beckman. At the start, Beckman had a very good reaction time, but he soon started spinning the tires, and Alexis drove on by for the win, as the Tequila Toyota ran a very nice 4.159 at 301 mph. It was so cool to see and hear all of the fans go crazy when Alexis took the win!
In the final round, Alexis was up first against a very tough Ron Capps, who has been running very well as of late. At the start, both Alexis and Ron had nearly identical, and very good reaction times, but at about 150-200 feet, the Patron Toyota began to spin the tires, which ultimately gave Capps the win. No matter what, Alexis did a great job and I am very proud of her and her Del Worsham led team! Doug was up next, and his opponent was none other than Tony Schumacher. We kept that good blower on just for Tony, and we knew we would need it! At the start, Tony did a bad job of red-lighting, and had an unreal .023 light, and Doug had a very good .065 light, but Tony’s reaction time was just to much to overcome, as the ARMY car ran a 3.819 to beat Doug’s 3.802. Even though it’s a holeshot loss, Doug did a great job, and I am very proud of him and the entire Kalitta Air Team! I think a Wally for Alexis and Doug are coming real soon!
Well, we now have this next weekend off before our next race in Chicago. The whole Kalitta Team is working very hard, as starting in Chicago, we will have five races in the next six weekends, which should be loads of fun! Well, that’s it from me, take care everyone and I hope you have a great week, and an even better weekend!
Jim “O” Oberhofer