Hilary Will Wins Inaugural Scott Kalitta Memorial Trophy

Hilary Will won the inaugural edition of the Scott Kalitta Memorial Trophy on Sunday. The North American female driver preferred to trade the Christmas feast for a shot at the Shannons U.S.A. vs. Australia Top Fuel Showdown at Western Sydney International Dragway in Sydney, Australia. Being the only American driver present at the event, Will posted the fastest time of the day in the very final round and walked off with the title.

“This means so much to me and this team. To get this trophy and take it back to the States is such an honor for us. Scott was my mentor, and he was like a brother to me. We miss him so much, but we are so happy to win this trophy for Connie, Doug, Scott's wife Kathy, and his boys, Corey and Colin and the entire Kalitta family,” said Will, former colleague of Scott Kalitta at Kalitta Motorsports, after the event.

Having Jim Oberhofer as crew chief, Will entered the event as the No. 3 qualifier. However, she cruised into the semifinals of the Memorial following a mechanical problem encountered by opponent Mark Mariani (his dragster would not go into reverse after burnout) in the 1st round. The solo run led to a poor (but safe) 13.309 seconds and 79.83 mph ahead of the semifinals.

Will battled Martin Stamatis in the semifinals in a much closer encounter. The two drivers were just about even by the half-track, but the Californian eventually pulled ahead of her opponent on the last few meters to finally secure her spot in the finals. Her time was 5.909 seconds (189.31 mph) as compared to Stamatis' 6.054 seconds (155.47 mph).

In the final round, Will cruised to the title by posting the fastest time of the day ahead of local favorite Terry Sainty, 4.743 seconds and 303.16 mph. The 28-year old driver crossed the finish line more than half-of-second ahead Sainty.

Scott Kalitta had won the 2005 and 2006 editions of the U.S.A. vs. Australia Top Fuel Showdown. He died due to extensive injuries following a Funny Car accident at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park this year.
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