If the last two years are any indication, a good start to the 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series has the chance to become even better for Doug Kalitta when he arrives at Royal Purple Raceway, the site of this weekend’s 30th annual NHRA SpringNationals.
The Top Fuel standout has posted two straight wins at the race in his 10,000-horsepower Mac Tools dragster, and a third straight victory would give him the most wins (four) in Top Fuel history at the facility. Currently fourth in the 2017 points standings with one final-round appearance, Kalitta, whose 42 wins are fifth in Top Fuel, hopes a return to Houston means another early-season hot streak.
“The Mac Tools Toyota dragster team has performed well at the start of the season,” Kalitta said. “We are continuing to focus on each race as its own. We would like to pick up our first win of the season this weekend in Houston and continue our recent streak. The streak we went on last season featured some exciting finishes and was awesome to be a part of. We still have the same parts and people in place, and I am confident we could roll to a run like that again. However, the competition is very stout in the Top Fuel class, so it is extremely difficult."
Courtney Force (Funny Car) and Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) were also last year’s winners of the event that will be televised on FOX Sports 1, including finals coverage starting at 6 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, April 23. It is the fifth of 24 events during the 2017 season.
Last season’s win in Houston had a significant carryover for Kalitta as well. It was the first of three straight wins, a stretch that also included Kalitta carrying the points lead for six consecutive races. He ended 2016 with four wins, six final-round appearances, and a fourth time finishing second in points. The quest for that elusive first world championship continues – Kalitta has the most wins in NHRA history without a world title – but the standout veteran knows his Kalitta Motorsports team is capable of putting together impressive hot streaks.
“The feeling is great,” Kalitta said. “We are all out here to win races and championships, so when the Mac Tools team was able to do that last season we were all thrilled."
A first victory in 2017 would be a big boost to those championship aspirations in a class dominated by Don Schumacher Racing competitors thus far. Leah Pritchett won the first two races of the year, while her teammates Tony Schumacher, the current points leader, and Antron Brown, the back-to-back world champ, both have victories through the first four events.
But with the addition of former Top Fuel world champion Shawn Langdon, Kalitta Motorsports now boasts its own impressive three-car lineup along with Kalitta and rookie Troy Coughlin Jr.
"When you add a championship-winning driver like Shawn and several more talented new crew, all it does is energize a program,” Kalitta said. “I can’t say enough about Steve and Samantha Bryson and the Global Electronic Technology people that really made this a reality. This gives us another team that we can share information with and that hopefully allows our team to be even stronger. Troy Jr. just wants to learn as much as he can. He is great at asking questions and taking advice in stride. He is a great guy, and he is going to win a lot of races."
To purchase event tickets, call (281)-383-7223 or visit www.RaceRPR.com. Kids 13 and under are free with a paid adult spectator side ticket. To honor the Salute to First Responders, military and first responders can save 20 percent on spectator side tickets at the gate.