Photo Courtesy: Kalitta Motorsports
YPSILANTI, Mich. (March 7, 2023) – For veteran Top Fuel racer Doug Kalitta, “winning the championship is 100 percent our goal,” and why not? The driver of the Mac Tools dragster has done just about everything else in the Top Fuel class. He has six runner-up season finishes, 49 race wins and 51 No. 1 qualifiers to his credit. Kalitta also has three wins at historic Gainesville Raceway, site of this week’s NHRA Camping World Drag Racing season-opening Amalie Oil Gatornationals set for March 10-12, 2023.
“We want to get whatever round wins and race wins we need to put ourselves in position to win the Top Fuel championship, and that is absolutely the number one goal for our team for this year,” Kalitta said.
“There’s a lot of great-running cars so you have to definitely take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way. Each round win is very critical. We’d love to start the year out with a win to hit the ground running and then just settle in and hope you’re in contention to win as often as you can. It’s all about this team effort that we’ve got going on and the comradery amongst ourselves to build the best team and do the best we can at every race.”
While the ultimate goal is to stand atop the class following race No. 21 in November, other in-season goals are attainable more quickly starting with this weekend’s $130,000 Pep Boys All-Star Callout specialty race for which Kalitta is seeded fifth among the eight eligible drivers. Kallita’s average qualifying position last season was fifth, and that distinction earned his place in the field.
During the event news conference on Friday, March 10, opening pairings will be determined when the four higher-seeded drivers “call out” their opponents. After the first round during Saturday’s first qualifying round, the driver with the lowest elapsed time of the four remaining drivers will “call out” his or her semifinal opponent with the semifinals contested during Saturday’s final qualifying round. The two remaining drivers will race for the title and its $80,000 prize in a special pairing late Saturday afternoon.
“We really appreciate Pep Boys putting this event on for us,” Kalitta added. “Having it at the first race is kinda cool because everybody’s just trying to get settled in for the year, but the team that seems to be running the most consistent right out of the gate will be in good shape. It’s cool that you can pick who you wanna run up until the final. It would be really nice to come home with a Pep Boys Callout win – it would be a great way to start the season.”
And when the cars roll up to the starting line for the first time this Friday, Kalitta’s Mac Tools dragster could have the cockpit canopy on it for the first time. The team tested the canopy in February and will test it again immediately before the Gatornationals to determine if it will run the canopy this season.
“The canopy was good,” Kalitta said. “Visibility is good, it’s quiet, which is one of the things a lot of people say. We’re trying to make it work better for our team, and we’ll have an opportunity to try it out again on Wednesday right before the first race. Alan and Brian (co-crew chiefs Alan Johnson and Brian Husen) like what they saw and don’t think the canopy is going to hurt anything, but we look forward to trying it out again when we get back down to Florida.”
- 2022 NHRA Gatornationals Highlights: Qualified fourth; defeated Alex Laughlin, lost to Mike Salinas
- Career Stats: 566 events, 738 round wins, 49 wins, 107 final rounds, 51 No. 1 qualifiers
WHEN SPEED MATTERS – NHRA DRAG RACING AND DISASTER RECOVERY
YPSILANTI, Mich. (March 7, 2023) – When 2013 NHRA Top Fuel champion Shawn Langdon starts the 2023 NHRA season for Kalitta Motorsports, speed will matter – just as it does when CMR Construction & Roofing is helping communities recover from a natural disaster like Hurricane Ian last year. The 2023 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing season begins with the Amalie Oil Gatornationals set for historic Gainesville Raceway March 10-12, 2023 in Gainesville, Fla.
While the monster storm only grazed the Gainesville area, Hurricane Ian made landfall just west of Fort Myers, Fla., as a 150 mph category four storm on Sept. 28, 2022. The storm cut a path of destruction across Florida causing more than $113 Billion in damage making it the third-costliest weather disaster on record and the deadliest hurricane to strike Florida since the 1935 Labor Day hurricane. Fort Myers Beach, Sanibel Island, Pine Island and Captiva Island sustained the worst damage – every structure in those areas sustained at least some damage.
Since that time, CMR has been working non-stop to help families, businesses and communities recover as quickly as possible. After more than two decades of storm recovery work, CMR has seen firsthand that when the news cycle fades away, the recovery work is only just beginning.
“We are very proud of our team, partners and neighbors and the work we have done together to raise money and provide necessary supplies and services throughout this recovery effort,” CMR Construction & Roofing CEO Steve Soule said. “We are currently helping nearly 6,000 home and business owners replace their roofs, with new people signing on every day. There is still much to be done, and we are working diligently to complete these projects as quickly as possible so people can return to their normal lives.
“’When Speed Matters’ is our motto because how quickly a family can return to their home or a company can resume business following a storm makes a real difference in their lives,” Soule added. “Days vs. weeks, weeks vs. months—these things matter. Our partnership with Kalitta Motorsports demonstrates our commitment to speed and to all of the talent, work and dedication it takes to accomplish that goal. Kalitta exemplifies our company values and always represents our brand proudly.”
“CMR is a great company, and going through Hurricane relief is what they do,” Langdon said. “Being a part of that is really Steve’s ‘MO’ – helping people. He’s a people person, and it’s great to see them be such an important part of hurricane relief. Their motto is ‘When Speed Matters;’ it’s all about getting the job done as fast as possible so it makes sense for them to be in drag racing.”
As it starts the 2023 season, Langdon’s CMR team is anxious to improve on last year’s results. Langdon reached two final rounds, made four semifinal appearances and finished 9th in the final point standings. It would have been good season for some but not Langdon and not Team Kalitta.
“You’re always gonna have times when things don’t go your way so your options are either cry like a baby or work harder – we’re working hard to get our car where it needs to be,” the 2013 NHRA Top Fuel Champion said. “We’ve had a fortunate couple of years – we haven’t won, but we’ve had good results. We’ve been in final rounds that haven’t gone our way. We just started the ladder of getting to the shop and working even harder. Our crew chiefs are doing a great job of that – Jason McCulloch, Kurt Elliott and Ronnie Thompson are working with Connie (team owner Connie Kalitta), and we’re really going through everything and working hard to get better – we’re happy with our progress so far.”
After off-season work at the race shop, pre-season testing and working to refine every process associated with the CMR team, Langdon and crew are optimistic that this team will find itself back in the winner’s circle very soon. Once the proper process is in place, the rest can take care of itself.
“It’s really just a ‘one step-at-a-time’ process,” Langdon added. “We go to the track prepared, and you’re ready for round one. When you’re ready for round one, you make a good run, and then everything just kind falls into place. You start making better runs, you have an opportunity to win; you win, and then win more and eventually move into contention to win championships. My goal is to leave first every time with every race; that’s the mindset.”
And he usually does. Langdon is known just about every year as one of the best at leaving the starting line before his opponent.
“It’s my competitiveness and determination that drive me; I hate losing,” Langdon said. “I kind of demand perfection from myself and if that happens, you can leave on everybody. If I don’t do that, I have to figure out how to do it – it’s what I think about basically 24 hours a day. I go out there for one purpose, and that purpose is for me to leave first. When I do that, I know I’m doing my best to help Team Kalitta win.”
2022 NHRA Gatornationals Highlights: Did not qualify
Career Stats: 309 events, 332 round wins, 17 wins, 37 final rounds, 19 No. 1 qualifiers
CMR Construction & Roofing is the ninth-largest roofing contractor in America, with over 500 workers and projects in 35 states nationwide. After completing more than 30,000 roofing projects, amounting to 133 million square feet, CMR has earned its reputation for excellence, speed, and performance in residential and commercial roofing over more than 20 years in business. CMR’s unique blend of expertise in traditional craftsmanship and innovative roofing solutions has made the company a top choice for complex specialty, commercial, and historical restoration projects. When Speed Matters, the company motto, is represented by CMR’s sponsored motorsports teams across NHRA, NASCAR, and P1 Offshore. These racing teams exemplify the talent, experience, teamwork, and dedication required to achieve top performance and lightning-fast speeds. Learn more at www.cmrconstruction.com.
WITH SITES SET ON SECOND NHRA TITLE, J.R. TODD EAGER TO START NEW SEASON
A new season in any sport brings widespread optimism – everyone is equal with the same opportunity ahead: earn more points than any other team, and when the 21-race season ends in November, stand atop the rest as the champion. The 2023 Camping World Drag Racing season begins at the Amalie Oil Gatornationals set for March 10-12, 2023 at historic Gainesville Raceway in Florida. J.R. Todd wasn’t a huge 2022 fan after recording one runner up, four semifinal appearances and an eighth-place points finish for the DHL Funny Car team’s efforts. Driver and team enter the new season eager to return the DHL Toyota Supra to the winner’s circle.
“With the way our season went last year, the start of a new season definitely gets you fired up and ready to go,” Todd said. “The offseason always seems like it drags on forever. November wasn’t that long ago, but I’m just anxious to get going. We have new helmets from the painter and a new fire suit; things like that just increase the excitement level for me. And then once you get to test and kind of knock that rust off, that just makes it even more exciting and gets you more ready to go.”
Todd’s last win came at the 2021 Gatornationals. Good experience and meaningful memories from that win add to the overall excitement of starting the season with one of the season’s biggest races.
“The Gaters is kinda like one of the majors for us in golf terms,” the 19-time race winner said. “It’s a big one; the Gatornationals is always kinda like the East Coast version of the Winternationals because it draws a lot of people from the Northeast and the Midwest, and it’s always a big crowd. We were lucky enough to win it a couple years ago – anytime you can win a race like that and put your name next to the guys like Big Daddy, Snake and all those greats that won that race in the past, it’s pretty special.”
Also special is winning a season championship which Todd did in 2018 when the DHL Toyota Supra team was best in class reaching the summit of the sport. Once a team tastes a championship, anything less doesn’t quite cut it.
“After winning a championship, winning another is always the goal going into the season,” Todd added. “Anything short of a championship means you just didn’t meet your goals or exceed your expectations. To get back there, the first step is winning a race; that’s something we didn’t do last year, and it stings when you go a full calendar year without winning so first you gotta be able to win races to be in form, that’s the first step.
“I’m always striving to make myself better. Drivers pride themselves on reaction time, and that’s always at the top of my list, just trying to find ways to be better on the starting line and always be at the top of the chart when it comes to driver’s reaction. So much of it is mental, but you know, you’re always looking for different things inside and outside the car, whether it’s the way you sit, the way you hit the throttle – anything to find few thousandths of a second that that can help you get off the starting line ahead of your competitors. That’s my goal, but the ultimate angle is always to win races and another title.”
2022 NHRA Gatornationals Highlights: Qualified 11th; lost to Blake Alexander
Funny Car Career Stats: 277 events, 301 round wins, 19 wins, 41 final rounds, 14 No. 1 qualifiers
- Amalie Oil NHRA Gatornationals
- Gainesville Raceway, Gainesville, Fla.
- Qualifying 1: 10-11:30 a.m. Saturday, March 11 on FS1
- Qualifying 2: 9-10:30 a.m. Sunday, March 12 on FS1 (Pep Boys All-Star Callout)
- Pep Boys Top Fuel All-Star Callout: 10:30 a.m. – Noon Sunday, March 12 on FS1
- Finals: Noon – 3 p.m. on FOX Network