Only two drivers have more Top Fuel wins at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona than perennial NHRA Mello Yello championship contender Doug Kalitta. The veteran driver from Michigan is looking to add one more win and move into a tie for first place on the all-time Auto Club Raceway win list. This season Kalitta will bring a new look Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster to the west coast to start the season and attempt to make it three wins in a row at Auto Club Raceway as well as his third win in a row at the historic Winternationals. The 60th annual Winternationals will be the chance for Kalitta to make another run at his first NHRA Top Fuel championship.
“I love going to Pomona,” said Kalitta. “It’s a place that has always been special and it’s been very good to us. To me, the cool thing about Pomona is the history of the place. I’ve seen so many of the greats race there and I love the museum. I hope the fans take some time to visit there. Personally, I grew up watching Connie (Kalitta) there over the years and it was just the coolest place to race. Hopefully, we can keep running well there.”
Kalitta fell just three points shy of earning his first Top Fuel title last season. He picked up his first win at the historic U.S. Nationals and raced to three finals in the Countdown including a win at the season finale. He has now finished in the top three in the point standings three times in the last four years. His 47 career Top Fuel victories are good for fifth all-time. Past success continues to motivate Kalitta for the ultimate prize.
We’re just hoping to be running up front the whole season,” said Kalitta. “We need to start off strong. We’ll try to go back to Pomona and pick up where we left off. We tested well in Spring Training in Vegas. Qualifying is one of the things that we’re going to be focusing on this year. Usually on race day, we’re consistently good, so qualifying a little bit better will help us be there at the end again this year. The points you gain in qualifying can make a big difference in the point standings. I think the addition of NGK and Mobil 1 should be a big plus as well. We’re really looking forward to having them aboard this year. I’m excited to get to Pomona.”
Throughout his over two decade long career Kalitta and the Mac Tools team have consistently been in the championship mix. Last year they spent eighteen races in either the No. 1 or No. 2 spot in the Mello Yello point standings.
“I’ve been very fortunate over the years. I’m really proud of what this Mac Tools Toyota team has accomplished, especially last year,” said Kalitta. “The car was running good throughout the year. I think what benefits us the most is simply that we have the ability to stay consistent. We don’t seem to have many long stretches where we struggle and that allows us to enter the Countdown in a good position to challenge for a title. This team is something special and I’m looking forward to the coming season.”
Throughout the seasons Kalitta has been in the unique position to evaluate his competition as the Top Fuel class has grown both in size and in competition level. Every season the number of teams that are considered serious championship contenders grows. The upcoming 2020 NHRA season is no exception.
“It’s going to be a really strong field again this year,” added Kalitta. “All of the top teams from last year are back. With Shawn (Langdon) moving back to Top Fuel, we’re adding another world champion. I think our Toyota teammate Antron Brown is going to be right back in the hunt, especially with Brian Corradi back with them. Plus, you have all the young kids who came up last year like Austin Prock and Jordan Vandergriff. There’s never an easy round out there.”
2019 NHRA Winternationals Highlights: Qual. No. 7, WINNER; Beat Scott Palmer, Billy Torrence, Terry McMillen and Steve Torrence
Last Event Recap (2019 NHRA Auto Club Finals): Qual. No. 6; WINNER; Beat Terry McMillen, Justin Ashley, Leah Pritchett, Richie Crampton
Career Stats: 513 events, 506 starts, 690 round wins, 47 wins, 101 finals, 50 No. 1 qualifiers