OPTIMA® sponsored NHRA top fuel driver, David Grubnic, heads to Atlanta

This weekend at the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series’ annual running of the NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway in Commerce, Georgia, a few miles northeast of downtown Atlanta, native Australian David Grubnic, driver of the OPTIMA®-sponsored Candlewood Suites Top Fuel dragster, for Kalitta Motorsports, is hoping for just a little more luck or some way to stretch his dragster to be a smidge longer. 

In the cut-throat, win-or-go-home world of Top Fuel drag racing, being on the losing end of a race to the 1,000-ft. finish line stings, but to get to the stripe a mere .0004 seconds behind your opponent makes the agony of defeat that much worse. Grubnic unfortunately experienced that rare pain during the first round of eliminations at the previous event in Houston. No. 6 qualifier Grubnic was upset in the opener by Terry McMillen. Both drivers’ race cars struggled to get down a very unpredictable track at Houston Raceway and both drivers were on and off of the throttle pedal a few times trying to labor their mounts to the win light. When the smoke cleared, that illumination was in McMillen’s lane, 4.349 sec., 241.45 mph to 4.275 sec., 242.63 mph. Grubnic came in second by only two inches!

“You know, it’s a heartbreaker to lose like that,” Grubnic, a 50-year old resident of Bozeman, Montana, said. “It’s just one of those deals and somebody had to lose. Of course, we’re extremely disappointed, but we’re also very optimistic about this weekend. Connie (Kalitta, team owner and crew chief) has been working on a new engine combination on the Candlewood Suites dragster, and he’s really got a good handle on it. We were really happy with the number we put up in qualifying in Houston, and we’re really excited to be heading to Atlanta and get back on the track!”  Crew chief and drag racing icon Kalitta won the event in Atlanta as a driver in 1994.

Although OPTIMA Batteries is the primary sponsor for much of the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series scheduel, Grubnic’s 10,000-horsepower Top Fueler is primarily adorned with the colors of Candlewood Suites again in Atlanta, as it was in Houston and will be at the next event in Topeka, Kansas, as part of the Candlewood Suites “Swing."  In Mello Yello championship points, Grubnic currently occupies the No. 10 position.

Grubnic 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 garnered three NHRA Top Fuel national event victories so far. The always-affable Grubnic is known affectionately by his peers and fans as “Grubby." Be sure to follow Grubnic on Twitter.

Event Schedule:

The NHRA Southern Nationals begin Friday for two qualifying sessions at 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. (ET). Team Kalitta and all the Nitro-powered pros will have two more qualifying sessions on Saturday at 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 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:
Qualifying - 6:00 PM-8:00 PM (ET)
Finals - 8:00 PM-11:00 PM (ET)

Times and dates subject to change.