Funny car driver killed in crash

June 21, 2008 5:21:44 PM PDT
Scott Kalitta died Saturday when his Funny Car crashed and burst into flames during the final round of qualifying for the Lucas Oil NHRA SuperNationals at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park. State police confirmed the 46-year-old Kalitta, a two-time Top Fuel champion who had 18 career victories, was killed. The NHRA said on its Web site that Kalitta was taken to Old Bridge Township Hospital, where he was pronounced dead from multiple injuries.

Witnesses told The Star-Ledger of Newark that Kalitta's Toyota Solara was traveling at an estimated speed of 300 mph when the crash occurred.

The Palmetto, Fla., resident started his career at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in 1982. His father, Connie Kalitta, was a longtime driver and team owner known as "The Bounty Hunter," and his cousin, Doug Kalitta, also drives competitively.

NASCAR Nationwide series driver Brad Keselowski -- a native of Rochester Hills, Mich., about 20 miles away from Kalitta's hometown of Mount Clemens -- learned the news from a television report Saturday afternoon.

"That really hits close to home," Keselowski said after winning the pole position for Saturday night's race at the Milwaukee Mile in West Allis, Wis. "(He was) a friend of my family's, and I send my thoughts and prayers out to him. That's tough to hear."

Last year, Funny Car driver Eric Medlen died after an accident in a testing session at Gainesville, Fla.

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