Doug Kalitta has proven this season that his Mac Tools dragster is one of the quickest machines in Top Fuel, supported by his category-best five No. 1 qualifying positions.
As the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship heads to the famed Texas Motorplex near Dallas for round two of NHRA’s playoffs, Kalitta is in the championship mix, sitting fourth in the series standings, only 43 points out of first place.
Kalitta is certainly one of the pre-race favorites to win the upcoming AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals, Sept. 19-22 at Texas Motorplex. Last season, defending world champion Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Bob Tasca III (Funny Car), Allen Johnson (Pro Stock), and Michael Ray (Pro Stock Motorcycle) earned victories at the event that will again be televised on ESPN2HD.
Kalitta is riding a bit of momentum from posting back-to-back semifinal finishes at the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis and last weekend’s Carlyle Tools NHRA Carolina Nationals presented by NAPA Auto Parts at zMAX Dragway in Charlotte.
He has produced a bunch of round-wins, 23 to be exact, but so far this season, the veteran driver hasn’t been able to add to his win total of 32 victories.
He has remained competitive in the series standings by accumulating qualifying bonus points. He’s among the category leaders in that department, having racked up 52 of the 3-2-1 points during qualifying rounds this season.
With only one runner-up finish in 2013, in Norwalk, pure basic statistics would suggest that Kalitta is due a victory soon. He hasn’t won since July 2010 in Denver.
Five playoff races remain: in Dallas, St. Louis, Reading, Las Vegas, and Pomona, and Kalitta has visited the winner’s circle at each track. A victory at this point in the Countdown would be huge in the 49-year-old driver’s quest to win his first world championship title.
“We are having a great year so far, but we haven’t been able to break through and get a win,” Kalitta said. “With only five events left, time is definitely running out on us, but we’re all very confident we can get it done – hopefully in Dallas.”
Like zMAX Dragway, Texas Motorplex will offer teams an all-concrete racing surface. The Motorplex was the first track to feature the full-length track surface in a single compound and is recognized as the first superstadium of drag racing.
“We’ve had some success racing our Mac Tools dragster in Dallas before,” Kalitta said. “We were able to grab the trophy in 2002, and we’ve been a finalist a few times. It’s a great track. Being able to race consecutive weekends on concrete tracks should be a help for Jim [Oberhofer] and all of the crew chiefs. The tune-ups of nitro cars are so on the edge anyway, so to have just a little of the same variable should help.”
Apart from the great racing surface and intense competition of the Countdown, Kalitta says heading to Texas always offers a fun time for his Kalitta Motorsports team.
“We’ve always liked racing in Dallas,” Kalitta said. “Jim grew up in the Plano area, so we always have an extended family reunion when we race at Texas Motorplex. We have a great time with Dave 'O' and Sue 'O' [Jim’s parents] and all the Oberhofer family and friends. It’s a great time.”
Kalitta and the rest of the competitors are chasing regular-season leader Shawn Langdon, who has a class-leading five victories at the controls of his Al-Anabi Racing dragster, but Texan Spencer Massey took over the points lead with a runner-up finish in Charlotte and will draw inspiration from his hometown cheering section. Charlotte winner Morgan Lucas has emerged as a title contender in the third-place points position. Other pre-race favorites include Khalid alBalooshi, Clay Millican, Texan Steve Torrence, and past Motorplex winner Bob Vandergriff Jr. Defending world champ and event winner Brown will try to bounce back at this event after posting an uncharacteristic DNQ at the playoff opener.
As always, every ticket purchased for the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals is a pit pass, which offers an extraordinary look behind the scenes in the world of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. This unique opportunity in motorsports gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to see firsthand the highly skilled mechanics service their sophisticated machines between rounds and enjoy cherished face time with their favorite NHRA drivers.
Fans will also want to check out NHRA Nitro Alley and the popular NHRA Manufacturers Midway, where vendors and sponsors create a carnival atmosphere with interactive displays, simulated competitions, merchandise, food, and freebies. Fans will also want to take advantage of Championship Sunday for the fun fan zone featuring driver introductions and a special Track Walk at 9:30 a.m. It’s free to all Sunday ticket holders.
AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals qualifying opens Friday, Sept. 20, with sessions at 2:15 and 5:15 p.m. The final two qualifying sessions will take place Saturday, Sept. 21, at 11:15 a.m. and 2:15 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 22.
Tickets for the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals range from just $10 to $380 for weekend packages. Youth tickets for children 12 and younger start as low as $5. For tickets or more information, call the Texas Motorplex office, 800-MOTORPLEX, or log on to www.texasmotorplex.com.