Doug Kalitta might consider Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park his home track, but the veteran Top Fuel standout will continue to look for the home-track advantage during the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals, July 3-6.
With the way the Top Fuel points leader has performed in his 10,000-horsepower Mac Tools dragster thus far during the 2014 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season, that may soon change. Kalitta has been the most consistent performer in the class, winning once and advancing to seven final rounds, including two weeks ago in Epping. That consistency could pay off with his first win at the popular dragstrip just west of Cleveland.
“I really like running at Norwalk,” Kalitta said. “Norwalk is our closest track, and we always have great support from our local fans. It’s like a home race for us. With some of my family and friends all there, it will be extra special to have a great outing, and the Bader family always puts on a great event. It has become one of the crown-jewel events in our series, and I want a Wally from Norwalk extremely bad.”
Khalid alBalooshi (Top Fuel), Johnny Gray (Funny Car), Mike Edwards (Pro Stock), and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of the event that will again be televised on ESPN2. The Fourth of July race is the 13th of 24 events during the 2014 NHRA season, and it closes out a rigorous stretch of four consecutive race weekends.
The event also takes place at a pivotal time in the season because only five races remain after the event before the start of the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship. Kalitta holds a 102-point lead over Antron Brown and has shown no sign of struggle during what has turned into a banner season. He has qualified first at four races, won in Gainesville, and advanced to the final round at three of the past four events, including back-to-back races in Englishtown and Bristol.
“I’m really proud of Jim O [Oberhofer, crew chief] and my guys with the performance we’ve shown with our Mac Tools dragster so far this year,” Kalitta said. “We're all super-focused and plan to continue to be a force to be reckoned with at each and every event for the rest of the season.”
The most difficult part for Kalitta may be maintaining that torrid pace, but he doesn’t have any notions of slowing down anytime soon. The team adjusted well to the hot-weather conditions in Bristol, something that could come in handy during most of the upcoming summer races.
It could also pay off in Norwalk, where Kalitta fell in the final round to alBalooshi a season ago. Kalitta, who has 34 wins and is seeking his first world championship in 2014, will take plenty of momentum into this year’s race at Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park, but the list of challengers in the ultracompetitive class reads long and includes the likes of recent Chicago winner Antron Brown, Epping champ Tony Schumacher, Spencer Massey, reigning world champion Shawn Langdon, reigning Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award winner Brittany Force, Englishtown winner Richie Crampton, Kalitta Motorsports teammate J.R. Todd, and Steve Torrence.
“I was very pleased knowing we can get down a hot track after Bristol,” Kalitta said. “Jim, Troy [Fasching, assistant crew chief], and the rest of the Mac Tools team are all really confident we have what we need to make it happen no matter what the conditions are like. We plan on executing our plan each time we drag our race car up to the starting line.”
As always, fans will have the opportunity to interact with their favorite drivers as they’re granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. This unique opportunity in motorsports gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to see firsthand the highly skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds and enjoy cherished face time with and get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers.
Fans also will want to visit NHRA’s popular Nitro Alley and Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create a carnival atmosphere with interactive displays, simulated competitions, merchandise, food, and fun for the entire family.
The event will also feature thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series and the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series. Exhibition runs will be made by Bob Motz in his amazing 200-mph jet Kenworth truck. And fans will want to see the spectacular fireworks show Friday night and build up an appetite so they can take advantage of a very popular Norwalk tradition and enjoy a pound of ice cream for only $1.
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying begins Friday, July 4, with sessions at 4:45 and 7:15 p.m. The final two qualifying sessions will take place Saturday, July 5, at 4:45 and 7:15 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. Sunday, July 6.
To purchase general-admission or reserved seats, call Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park, 419-668-5555, or visit www.summitmotorsportspark.com.