Doug Kalitta and the Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster team did what they had to do today at World Wide Technology Raceway winning the NHRA Midwest Nationals for the fourth time and defeating their closest rival Steve Torrence in the final. Kalitta entered race day as the No. 5 qualifier but he knew the chance to go rounds was of utmost importance.
“We needed to get some momentum going for the last three races and this is going to do a lot for us for sure,” said Kalitta, a 49-time Top Fuel national event winner. “The conditions were really good and my Mac Tools Toyota guys had my car running really well. I’m real proud of my entire team and Toyota is a big part of making this car run and knowing what the track is doing. Just a big team effort.”
Kalitta had to race teammate Shawn Langdon in the first round and then take out veteran TJ Zizzo in the quarterfinals. In both of those races he lowered his best elapsed time with a 3.731 second pass and then a 3.709 second run, respectively. The Mac Tools dragster continued its dominant ways making a single run in the semifinals when Tony Schumacher’s throttle stuck and he could not make his run. With no one in the other lane Kalitta did not let the chance to get lane choice in the final round slip through his fingers. His solo run elapsed time of 3.711 seconds proved he would have the race car to beat in the final round.
In a race that would either close the Top Fuel point gap to two points with a win or drop him back 42 points with a loss Kalitta lowered the boom with his quickest run of the weekend, 3.690 seconds at 322.58 mph. The race for the championship will be tight.
“When you’re rolling up to the stage lights, you’re just thinking about the win,” said Kalitta. “But we’re all counting points and we’re all figuring out what we can do to get ahead. But the only place you can do it is on the starting line and you have to have a great effort behind you. I’m looking for.”
The win made Kalitta the second winningest Top Fuel driver at World Wide Technology with four wins. His previous three wins came in 2004, 2003 and 2001.
“I love running in St. Louis. I’m probably one of the few guys that ran over at the paved oval here and the drag strip. So I’ve been coming here for a number of years, as well as in Granite City with the midgets. It’s a good racing town,” added Kalitta.
To get the win Kalitta had to wait out a number of delays because of on-track incidents. The veteran was undeterred by the delays.
“We’re wondering what the delays are really and what’s going on,” said Kalitta. “The Top Fuel cars have a wing on the front and back of these things that you could run across a sheet of ice just about. They really have some downforce. Some of the other cars don’t and the conditions today were tricky for cars without a lot of downforce. The weather conditions aren’t really as much of a concern with my car.”
Today’s win was the 49th of his career and second of the season. The Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster has appeared in four final rounds this season. Those stats are impressive but Kalitta has one goal for this season.
“The championship is the number one prize, but we’re hoping to get a couple more wins for sure. We have three more opportunities. We’ve got three more shots,” summed up Kalitta.
Doug Kalitta on getting a single in the semifinals: “At this point in the game, I’m counting points and I’m thinking — perfect. Let him (Tony Schumacher) run that baby roll down the track and get him off of there so I can run. It’s about all I was thinking. It’s very uncommon, obviously, but it happens. We were the recipient of that opportunity, but we ran well and he was going to have to run good to get us.”
Qualified: No. 5 (3.913sec., 325.74 mph)
Bonus points: 0
Doug Kalitta 5 .083 3.711 321.50 (W)
Tony Schumacher 1 Broke