Doug Kalitta and Mac Tools dragster Ready to Make Statement at Carolina Nationals
Race two of the NHRA Countdown has Doug Kalitta and the Mac Tools Toyota Top Fuel team looking to make a move up the points with five races remaining in the 2022 season. The 49-time national event winner has a history of success at zMax Dragway, known as the Bellagio of drag strips, and a win this weekend at the Betway NHRA Carolina Nationals would move the perennial championship contender right into the middle of the title battle. In 2019 Kalitta scored a runner-up finish and two years prior in 2017 he won the event.
“We have run well in Charlotte and it is a great facility overall. The Smith family has done an amazing job with this race and I would like to pick up another win there in my Mac Tools dragster,” said Kalitta. “We are one race into the Countdown so I really think everyone has a shot if you can start building some momentum. This Mac Tools team is ready.
Throughout his career at zMax Dragway Kalitta has chalked up quite a few round wins and this year win lights will have a little extra meaning. Kalitta Motorsports and longtime sponsor DHL are teaming up with Feeding America to donate 20,000 meals for every win light on Sunday by any of the three drivers racing under the Kalitta Motorsports banner.
“This is a really neat deal we are doing with our marketing partner DHL and Feeding America,” said Kalitta. “We want to turn on as many win lights as possible and help as many people as possible with this program.”
Kalitta has a long history of success at Charlotte in addition to his 2017 win he has runner-up finishes in 2019 and 2016. The veteran driver has also recorded a runner-up at the Four-Wide Nationals in 2018 and 2010. His 2017 win came from the No. 1 qualifier starting spot.
“I love racing in Charlotte because it has a great racing community,” said Kalitta. “You see NASCAR crew guys and drivers walking around the pits and on the starting line. This will be a big race for our sponsor Mac Tools along with DeWalt and Black and Decker so we’ll be busy on and off the track.”
Last weekend Kalitta raced to the quarterfinals at the Reading Nationals and the three in a row stretch to start the Countdown will give all the teams the chance to improve their point positions with success on race day. For the Alan Johnson and Brian Husen crew chief tandem the back-to-back-to-back races are a great chance to get into a racing groove at the most important time of the season.
“Alan and Brian have been working really hard putting this program together this season and I have a lot of confidence it will start paying off,” said Kalitta. “They have been great to work with and every time I get in my Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster I have a lot of confidence.”
This weekend the Mac Tools dragster will get three qualifying runs looking to grab one of the 16 spots in the qualified field. Race day will begin at noon ET with FS1 broadcasting the race beginning at 3 p.m. ET.
2021 Betway Carolina Nationals Highlights: Qual. No. 12, Lost to Steve Torrence
Last Event Recap 2022 Pep Boys Nationals: Qual. 7; Beat Leah Pruett; Lost to Justin Ashley
Career Stats: 561 events, 554 starts, 735 round wins, 49 wins, 107 finals, 51 No. 1 qualifiers
Winternationals: Qual. 5; Lost to Tony Schumacher
Arizona Nationals: Qual. 1; Lost to Rob Passey
Gatornationals: Qual 5; Beat Alex Laughlin; Lost to Mike Salinas
Las Vegas1: Qual 6; Lost to Leah Pruett and Shawn Langdon
Houston: Qual 3; Lost to Billy Torrence
Charlotte1: Qual 4; Beat Alex Laughlin, Doug Foley; Lost to Mike Salinas, Cameron Ferre
Richmond: Qual 6; Beat Leah Pruett; Lost to Austin Prock
Epping: Qual 4; Beat Cameron Ferre; Lost to Shawn Langdon
Bristol: Qual 12; Lost to Brittany Force
Norwalk: Qual. No. 6; Beat Antron Brown; Lost to Mike Salinas
Denver: Qual. No. 8; Lost to Josh Hart
Sonoma: Qual. 2; Beat Ron August, Josh Hart; Lost to Mike Salinas
Seattle: Qual. 4; Beat Alex Laughlin; Lost to Leah Pruett
Topeka: Qual. 5; Lost to Tony Schumacher
Brainerd: Qual. 10; Lost to Tony Schumacher
Indianapolis: Qual. 12; Beat Clay Millican, Mike Salinas; Lost to Brittany Force
Reading: Qual. 7; Beat Leah Pruett; Lost to Justin Ashley
Shawn Langdon and DHL Top Fuel Fired Up for Carolina Nationals
The competition for the 2022 NHRA Top Fuel championship has never been fiercer but 2013 Top Fuel champion Shawn Langdon feel he is up to the task of adding another world title to his resume. The two-time 2022 Top Fuel finalist entered the Countdown driving the DHL Toyota Top Fuel dragster with confidence. In addition to the two runner-up finishes Langdon has also posted two semifinal finishes and a handful of quarterfinal finishes. The veteran driver knows these races are critical to his championship hopes.
“At the start of the season you want to put yourself in position to race for the championship,” said Langdon. “We did that and now we need to just keep fighting to move up in the points. These first three races will set the tone. We didn’t get off to the start we wanted but we can correct that this weekend in Charlotte with a good race.”
Langdon has had a wide variety of success at zMax Dragway. He won the 2012 Betway Nationals in Top Fuel and then seven years later he won his first Funny Car career title taking the win at the spring Four-Wide Nationals. He also has a runner-up finish in Top Fuel at the Four-Wide Nationals from 2014 and a Top Fuel runner-up from 2009 at the Betway Nationals. In 2012 and 2014 he scored No. 1 qualifiers at the fall and spring races respectively.
“The Charlotte track has been pretty good to me and I would like to get another win in the fall,” said Langdon. “We have a lot on the line as a team but also we are racing for Feeding America with our sponsor DHL.”
For every win light Langdon or either of his teammates Doug Kalitta or J.R. Todd turn on during eliminations Kalitta Motorsports and DHL will donate 20,000 meals to Feeding America. A Top Fuel win by Langdon on Sunday would equal an 80,000 meal donation in addition to moving him right into the middle of title consideration.
The DHL Toyota Top Fuel dragster will be on track for one qualifying run on Friday night and return for two more qualifying passes on Saturday. The quickest 16 Top Fuel dragsters will battle it out starting at noon ET on Sunday. NHRA fans can tune into watch all the action on FS1 beginning at 3:00 p.m. ET.
2021 Betway Carolina Nationals Highlights: Qual. No. 14; Lost to Clay Millican
Last Event Recap 2022 Pep Boys Nationals: Qual. 12; Lost to Steve Torrence
Career Stats: 304 events, 300 starts, 326 round wins, 17 wins, 37 finals, 19 No. 1 qualifiers; in Top Fuel: 256 events, 252 starts, 15 wins, 34 finals, 287 round wins, 19 No. 1 qualifiers
Winternationals: Qual 8; Lost to Josh Hart
Arizona Nationals: Qual 7; Beat Antron Brown; Lost to Mike Salinas
Gatornationals: Qual 21; DNQ
Las Vegas1: Qual 11; Beat Doug Kalitta and Rob Passey; Lost to Steve Torrence and Brittany Force
Houston: Qual 10; Beat Leah Pruett; Lost to Brittany Force
Charlotte1: Qual 14; Lost to Clay Millican, Josh Hart
Richmond: Qual 12; Beat Doug Foley; Lost to Brittany Force
Epping: Qual. No. 12; Beat Josh Hart, Doug Kalitta; Lost to Justin Ashley
Bristol: RUNNER-UP; Qual. No. 9; Beat Spencer Massey, Mike Salinas, Antron Brown; Lost to Justin Ashley
Norwalk: Qual. No. 9; Lost to Tripp Tatum
Denver: RUNNER-UP; Qual. No. 12; Beat Greg Carrillo, Mike Salinas, Josh Hart; Lost to Leah Pruett
Sonoma: Qual. 9; Beat Antron Brown, Leah Pruett; Lost to Brittany Force
Seattle: Qual. 6; Beat Mike Salinas; Lost to Tony Schumacher
Topeka: Qual. 9; Beat Clay Millican; Lost to Mike Salinas
Brainerd: Qual. 11; Beat Leah Pruett; Lost to Justin Ashley
Indianapolis: Qual. 15; Lost to Justin Ashley
Reading: Qual. 12; Lost to Steve Torrence
J.R. Todd and DHL Chasing Momentum Heading into Carolina Nationals
Last weekend’s quarterfinal finish by J.R. Todd and the DHL Toyota GR Supra Funny Car team has motivated the 2018 Funny Car world champion as the playoffs move to zMax Dragway just north of Charlotte. At the end of the Western Swing in July Todd raced to a runner-up finish at the Northwest Nationals in Seattle giving the team a boost as the regular season wound to a close. Over the past eight races Todd has advanced out to the first round seven times and the veteran driver who has competed in Top Fuel and Funny Car at the Betway Carolina Nationals knows consistency is the key for another championship run.
“You have to start winning rounds early in the Countdown,” said Todd. “You can have a slip up, but you can’t make a huge mistake. Early exits will make winning the championship almost impossible. We are in a decent position to make a move with a good weekend in Charlotte. I have a great DHL team behind me and I have won rounds here. We just need to put a good race day together this Sunday.”
Last year Todd was the runner-up at the spring Four-Wide Nationals and during his championship season of 2018 his runner-up finish at the Betway Carolina Nationals sustained his momentum that put the title trophy in his hands at the end of the season. In 2015 he qualified No. 1 in Top Fuel and raced to another runner-up finish at the fall national event. Having the experience in both nitro classes is an asset that Todd and few others bring to the table.
“I think my Top Fuel experience helps but driving this DHL Toyota Supra is nothing like a Top Fuel dragster,” said Todd. “This Funny Car keeps you on your toes. We are generating so much power and you really have to drive it to keep it hooked up. Both nitro classes are very tough, but I love racing this Toyota Funny Car.”
This weekend Todd and his Kalitta Motorsports teammates will be racing with a purpose as they start a four race stretch supporting Feeding America along with marketing partner DHL. For every win light Todd or his other two teammates turn on Sunday in eliminations Kalitta Motorsports will donate 10,000 meals to Feeding America and DHL will match that donation with another 10,000 meals. A win on Sunday would mean Todd and his DHL team donated 80,000 meals to families struggling with food insecurity. The four races Todd and Kalitta Motorsports will be supporting Feeding America include this weekend, St Louis’ Midwest Nationals, the Texas Fall Nationals in Dallas and the penultimate NHRA national event at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Las Vegas.
“DHL is a great company to represent because they love motorsports and they are also very active in supporting great causes,” said Todd. “We are helping Feeding America in September and then in October we will have a pink Toyota Supra to support breast cancer awareness. Racing is important but so is giving back and supporting other people.”
Todd is battling one of the toughest Funny Car fields in recent history. His DHL team has been in the middle of the fray all season and now with five races left they are sitting 130 points behind the point leader. Every race 100 points are on the line with points and a half available at the season finale in Pomona. The road to the championship will be tough but it is not impossible for Todd and his experienced DHL team.
“We have a lot of points to make up, but we are not going to give up,” said Todd. “This is a tough experienced team. My crew chiefs Todd Smith and Jon Oberhofer have a great handle on our tune-up. Like everyone we need a couple breaks to go our way and we need to perform like champions. We have done this before and it will be exciting.”
Friday night Todd and the DHL Toyota Funny Car team will hit the track for the first time and then Saturday they will get two opportunities to earn some valuable qualifying bonus points. Sunday’s race will begin at noon ET with Top Fuel then Funny Car starting four rounds of eliminations. FS1 will broadcast the race nationally beginning at 3 p.m. ET.
2021 Betway Carolina Nationals Highlights: Qual. No. 6; Beat Mike McIntire; Lost to Cruz Pedregon
Last Event Recap 2022 Pep Boys Nationals: Qual. 6; Beat Chad Green; Lost to John Force
Career Stats: 272 events, 264 starts, 298 round wins, 19 wins, 41 finals, 14 No. 1 qualifiers; In Funny Car: 120 events, 120 starts, 10 wins, 21 finals, 150 round wins, 5 No. 1 qualifiers
Winternationals: Qual. 8; Beat Bobby Bode; Lost to Ron Capps
Arizona Nationals: Qual. 8; Lost to Alexis DeJoria
Gatornationals: Qual. 11; Lost to Blake Alexander
Las Vegas1: Qual. 9; Beat Tim Wilkerson and Jason Qual. 7; Beat Jim Campbell; Lost to Robert Hight Rupert; Lost to Ron Capps and Matt Hagan
Houston: Qual. 13; Beat Bob Tasca III, Jim Campbell; Lost to Matt Hagan
Charlotte1: Qual. 6; Beat Dale Creasy Jr, Chad Green; Lost to Ron Capps, Mike McIntire
Richmond: Qual. 5; Lost to John Force
Epping: Qual. 10; Beat Blake Alexander, Cruz Pedregon; Lost to Matt Hagan
Bristol: Qual. 11; Lost to Cruz Pedregon
Norwalk: Qual. 7; Beat Blake Alexander, John Force; Lost to Robert Hight
Denver: Qual. 6; Beat Cruz Pedregon; Lost to John Force
Sonoma: Qual. 10; Beat Tim Wilkerson; Lost to John Force
Seattle: Qual. 7; RUNNER-UP; Beat Blake Alexander, Bob Tasca III, bye; Lost to Robert Hight
Topeka: Qual. 8; Lost to Alexis DeJoria
Brainerd: Qual. 7; Beat Jim Campbell; Lost to Robert Hight
Indianapolis: Qual. 8; Beat Cruz Pedregon; Lost to Ron Capps
Reading: Qual. 6; Beat Chad Green; Lost to John Force