Doug Kalitta will open the first 2022 NHRA Countdown race at Maple Grove Raceway this weekend wheeling a new look CMR Construction and Roofing Top Fuel dragster and looking to make a move up the recalibrated point standings in pursuit of his first Top Fuel world championship. Kalitta sits ninth, just 90 points off the lead. The 2019 Reading Nationals runner-up and 2022 winner knows that a strong start in the first of six playoff races will position his CMR team in great shape as the playoffs unfold with three races in a row. The quick and fast track at Maple Grove Raceway should give the perennial championship contender a great opportunity to pick up qualifying bonus points Friday and Saturday and round wins on Sunday.
Two weeks ago, Kalitta raced to the semifinals at the biggest drag race of the season, the historic U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis. The momentum from that strong finish has the 49-time Top Fuel winner looking for even more success this weekend. His crew chief tandem of Alan Johnson and Brian Husen have been working all season for a strong run in the playoffs.
“We had a good race in Indy and I feel really good coming into Reading,” said Kalitta. “Alan and Brian have been working on a few things and I think in these good conditions we will have a great race car. I am excited to be racing the CMR Construction and Roofing Top Fuel dragster this weekend. The last time they were on a Kalitta Motorsports dragster my teammate Shawn Langdon raced to the finals in Bristol.”
Kalitta has put up strong qualifying performances throughout the season qualifying No. 1 at the NHRA Arizona Nationals, his 51st career No. 1 qualifier and starting an additional five races from No. 4 or higher. The veteran driver has parlayed those quick runs into six quarterfinals and two semifinals throughout the regular season. The new point structure for the Countdown has Kalitta just over four rounds behind the points leader so strong runs on Friday and Saturday can help the driver from Ypsilanti, Michigan, close the gap. In 2004 Kalitta was the No. 1 qualifier at the Reading Nationals, so he has some experience starting from the top at Maple Grove Raceway.
“We have six races in the playoffs and everyone has a shot at the championship in the Countdown,” said Kalitta. “I am confident in Alan and Brian as well as this whole CMR team. This will be an exciting weekend for sure.”