JOLIET, Ill. (June 27, 2012) –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.
The O’Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals begin Friday for the nitro-fueled classes with two qualifying sessions at 5:00 p.m. (CT) and 8:00 p.m. Two more qualifying attempts will take place on Saturday at 5:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. The top 16 qualified cars in each nitro class will race Sunday in final eliminations beginning at 11:00 a.m.
Times and dates subject to change.
ESPN2 TV Schedule
6/30 – Qualifying
6:00 PM-7:30 PM (ET)
7/1 – Qualifying
3:00 AM-4:00 AM (ET)
7/1 – Qualifying Re-Air
11:00 AM-12:00 PM (ET)
7/1 – Eliminations
6:00 PM-9:00 PM (ET)
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 Team Kalitta. Alexis DeJoria pilots the Tequila Patrón Toyota Camry Funny Car. David Grubnic drives the Optima Batteries Top Fuel dragster while Connie’s nephew, Doug Kalitta, pilots the Kalitta Air Top Fuel dragster. Connie serves as head tuner for all Team Kalitta entries. He is assisted by co-crew chiefs Jon Oberhofer and Nick Boninfante on the DHL Funny Car, by Del Worsham on the Tequila Patrón Funny Car, and by Jim Oberhofer on the Kalitta Air Top Fuel dragster. Connie serves as crew chief on the Optima Batteries Top Fuel dragster.
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. Follow us on Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/teamkalitta.