Former champ Kalitta lost in qualifying accident

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Funny Car driver Scott Kalitta, 46, died June 21 from multiple injuries suffered after his car went out of control and crashed in a high-speed racing accident at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park during the fourth and final round of qualifying at the Lucas Oil NHRA SuperNationals. Kalitta was extracted from his car by NHRA emergency services officials and transported to Old Bridge Township Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.

Kalitta, a two-time NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series Top Fuel champion and one of only 14 drivers in NHRA history to earn victories in both premier nitro categories, earned 18 victories during his career, his last coming in Chicago in 2005 in Top Fuel.

Kalitta earned most of his racing success in Top Fuel, where he claimed back-to-back world championship titles in 1994 and 1995. He retired from racing in 1997, sitting out most of two seasons before returning for a 10-race campaign in 1999. He sat out three more seasons following that brief stint and then returned again in 2003, joining cousin Doug as a second driver for the family's two Top Fuel dragsters.

Kalitta started his pro career in Top Fuel in 1982, running limited events for four seasons before moving to Funny Car in 1986 for his first full season of competition. He returned to that category full time in 2006. He posted a runner-up finish two weeks ago in Chicago, his 36th career NHRA final-round appearance.

Kalitta is survived by his father, legendary NHRA racer and team owner Connie Kalitta; wife, Kathy; and sons, Corey, 14, and Colin, 8.

NHRA statement of the death of Scott Kalitta

On behalf of everyone at NHRA, we are deeply saddened and want to pass along our sincere condolences to the entire Kalitta family.

Scott shared the same passion for drag racing as his legendary father, Connie. He also shared the same desire to win, becoming a two-time series world champion. He left the sport for a period of time, to devote more time to his family, only to be driven to return to the dragstrip to regain his championship form.

Scott was a terrific driver and perhaps more importantly a better person and a great father to his two kids. He will be truly missed by the entire NHRA community.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife, Kathy; sons, Corey and Colin; his cousin, Doug; and his father, Connie.

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