Entering the penultimate race of the 2019 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Doug Kalitta and his Mac Tools team are poised to win their first Top Fuel world championship. A season of consistency has continued into a solid Countdown run that has the veteran driver only 33 points out of first place. There is a quartet of teams within striking distance of the top spot but Kalitta has been the most consistent and steady throughout the season. Over the past five races the Mac Tools team has tallied three final rounds including a win at the U.S. Nationals.
“We have had a great race car the past two months and really all season,” said Kalitta. “I can’t complain about anything on the performance side. I have a lot of confidence and getting to two finals in the Countdown has given us a real shot at the championship. It is a wide open race this season.”
Kalitta and his Mac Tools team have finished second four times since he started racing in 1998. Most recently he finished right behind Antron Brown in 2016. The races of the past are not on Kalitta’s radar as he has captured some elusive success already this season.
“We have come close to the championship a number of times,” said Kalitta. “This year has been great getting the win at the U.S. Nationals. That was a big win for this Mac Tools team and for Kalitta Motorsports. We have two races to go and we are going to put all our energy into getting that championship.”
The U.S. Nationals win a first in 21 previous attempts gave Kalitta some momentum going into the Countdown. He took a runner-up finish in Reading, Pennsylvania to teammate Richie Crampton and followed that up with another final round appearance in Charlotte.
“We have everything we need to win this championship and that is because of Connie Kalitta. I started working on his Top Fuel dragster over 30 years ago. To win the Top Fuel championship would be really special to everyone on this team and at Kalitta Motorsports. I think we have a really good chance and it will be a battle with Steve (Torrence) and Brittany (Force) and Billy (Torrence). With points and a half in Pomona you never know what could happen.”
His history at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway has seen additional success. He has two wins to his credit including a win in 2015 over Larry Dixon as well as a runner-up finish in 2007. The three final round appearances have Kalitta ready to capture his first championship.
“I have been close to the championship before and I would love to win the championship this season. I have the race car that can do it and I feel as confident behind the wheel as I ever have. There are two races left in the season and I want to win them both,” added Kalitta.
2018 NHRA Vegas Nationals Highlights: Qual. No. 6; Lost to Richie Crampton
Last Event Recap (2019 NHRA FallNationals): Qual. No. 10; Lost to Austin Prock
Quotable: Kalitta on heading to final two races and heading to Las Vegas: “I have a lot of confidence in this Mac Tools team. We dodged a bullet in Dallas but we can’t count on other people making mistakes. I know this team is capable of winning the championship. We just have to go our starting on Friday and execute. It is going to be an exciting weekend in Las Vegas.”
Career Stats: 511 events, 504 starts, 684 round wins, 46 wins, 100 finals, 50 No. 1 qualifiers
Winternationals: Qual. No. 7, WINNER; Beat Scott Palmer, Billy Torrence, Terry McMillen and Steve Torrence
Arizona Nationals: Qual. No. 5; Beat Jim Maroney; Lost to Jordan Vandergriff
Gatornationals: Qual. No. 11; Beat Terry McMillen, Steve Torrence; Lost to Clay Millican
Las Vegas1: Qual. No. 7; Beat Terry McMillen and Steve Chrisman; Beat Steve Torrent and Richie Crampton; Lost to Mike Salinas and Brittany Force
Houston: Qual. No. 8; Beat Terry McMillen; Lost to Brittany Force
Charlotte1: Qual. No. 4; Beat Richie Crampton and Lex Joon; Lost to Clay Millican and Leah Pritchett
Atlanta: Qual. No. 3; Lost to Shawn Reed
Richmond: Qual. No. 5; Lost to Scott Palmer
Chicago: Qual. No. 5; Beat Shawn Reed, Pat Dakin; Lost to Mike Salinas
Topeka: Qual. No. 5; Beat Leah Pritchett; Lost to Antron Brown
Bristol: Qual. No. 1; Beat Cameron Ferre, Terry McMillen; Lost to Mike Salinas
Norwalk: Qual. No. 13; Beat Clay Millican; Lost to Steve Torrence
Epping: Qual. No. 3; Lost to Terry McMillen
Denver: Qual. No. 10; Lost to Clay Millican
Sonoma: Qual. No. 5; Beat Scott Palmer; Lost to Antron Brown
Seattle: Qual. No. 8; Beat Scott Palmer; Lost to Mike Salinas
Brainerd: Qual. No. 7; Beat Terry McMillen, Steve Torrence; Lost to Mike Salinas
Indianapolis: Qual. No. 8; WINNER; Beat Clay Millican, Brittany Force, Austin Prock and Billy Torrence
Reading: Qual. No. 3; RUNNER-UP; Beat Smax Smith, Mike Salinas, Austin Prock; Lost to Richie Crampton
St. Louis: Qual. No. 10; Beat Richie Crampton; Lost to Billy Torrence
Charlotte2: Qual. No. 10; RUNNER-UP; Beat Antron Brown, Leah Pritchett, Brittany Force; Lost to Steve Torrence
Dallas: Qual. No. 10; Lost to Austin Prock