NHRA - National Hot Rod Association


The blown tire that may have changed Doug Kalitta's championship course

The 2023 NHRA season was a wild one in many ways, including several spectacular on-track incidents. Here’s a look back at 12 of the biggies. Day 7: Doug Kalitta's season-changing tire explosion in Reading.
18 Dec 2023
Posted by NHRA.com staff
Twelve Days of Wrecks-mas

When Doug Kalitta's Mac Tools Top Fueler blew a rear tire during qualifying at the Pep Boys NHRA Nationals, the opening event of the 2023 NHRA Countdown to the Championship playoffs, it looked like another hard knock for a guy still trying to win his first championship.

The team had to revert to their backup car, which did not have the same wind-cheating canopy as the primary car, but the change oddly worked out as he defeated Steve Torrence in the final round. Kalitta’s long-awaited 50th career win, which came nearly three years after he collected No. 49 in St. Louis, jumped him to third in points. Kalitta then won the Betway NHRA Carolina Nationals the next weekend to take the points lead. 

 “Obviously, throughout the year, we kind of struggled with changing a lot of stuff on our car, and I think after we blew that tire for some reason our luck changed,” Kalitta said. “After that, we had a car that was responding good, and everything seemed to be a lot happier with our tune-up.”

Kalitta, who had not won since October of 2020, won that event — the milestone 50th victory of his career — and the next one, the Betway NHRA Carolina Nationals, en route to scoring his long-overdue championship.