Charles Barkley never won an NBA title. He played from 1985 to 2000, reached the playoffs 13 times, earned one MVP and made 11 All-NBA teams.
Michael Jordan won six NBA titles. He played from 1985 to 2003, reached the playoffs 13 times, earned five MVP awards and made 11 ALL-NBA teams.
Barkley had terrible timing. He played in one NBA finals, going against Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls in 1993 and losing in six games. Barkley was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006 despite never winning a final because come on. There’s no shame in losing to the best, no matter how terrible it feels.
Doug Kalitta can, for now, empathize with Barkley. Kalitta is without a doubt the best driver in NHRA Drag Racing to have never won a world championship. He raced at the same time as Tony Schumacher, the winningest racer in Top Fuel history, for the vast majority of his career. In a sport where equipment matters in addition to driving acumen, Kalitta has been second best.
Kalitta finally earned his first Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals victory on Monday. He is driving an incredible Top Fuel dragster, sitting behind only Steve Torrence, Billy Torrence and Mike Salinas in NHRA Power Rankings. The range between Torrence The Younger and Kalitta is just eight points – that’s close enough that luck becomes a heavy factory.
Luck has rarely been on the side of Kalitta during his long career, so this would be a great time to dig up the horseshoe from behind Connie Kalitta’s garage. Consistency has been the problem for Kalitta during the 2019 campaign, with a Success Rate of 68.2 percent compared to the 80.8 rating of Steve Torrence. Reaction time has not. The only racers with better averages than Kalitta are Antron Brown and Austin Prock.
Kalitta heads into the NHRA Countdown to the Championship 20 points behind Torrence. He is not the favorite, but his NHRA Power Ranking is the best it has been over the past three years. He will need a few breaks to go his way to stop the Torrence freight train … but so does everyone else. After years of coming very close but just missing out, this could finally be the year Kalitta reaches the promised land.
If not, there’s always next year, right? Kalitta doesn’t look like he’s slowing down any time soon.