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NHRA FallNationals Success Critical For Doug Kalitta As Top Fuel Race Heats Up In Dallas

Everyone on the Mac Tools team knew the battle for the Camping World Drag Racing Series Top Fuel world championship would not be easy. In fact the team and driver Doug Kalitta relish the challenge that these next three national events will afford his veteran team. From the top down every person on the crew knows they will have to bring their “A” game to the AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals this weekend at the Texas Motorplex and no matter what happens they will have to be just as ready the next week when the team heads to Houston.

“We are ready for these next three races,” said Kalitta. “The win in St. Louis was a nice boost but these next three weeks will be where we win or lose the championship. We got off of a hot start at the beginning of the season and now I feel like we are in a position to finish the season just as strong.”

Kalitta and the Mac Tools team took the win at the Winternationals and then followed that up with a runner-up in Phoenix. The forced shutdown of the racing season was tough but the team came back at the first event in Indy with another runner-up. Since then the team has been consistent but not dominant until two weeks ago. Kalitta took out teammate Shawn Langdon in the first round and then raced through TJ Zizzo, Tony Schumacher and finally two-time world champions Steve Torrence for the win. The victory has Kalitta in basically a tie for the No. 1 spot just two points from a first place tie.

“That win in St. Louis was big,” said Kalitta. “Every win is important but we wanted that one. If we are going to get the world championship we are going to have to beat the Torrences, Leah (Pruett), and a handful of other drivers. I am not counting out my teammate in that DHL dragster Shawn Langdon either. Anything can happen. I am going to give it my best and we will see where we end up. I am looking forward to getting to the Texas Motorplex for sure.”

Kalitta is one of only six drivers with multiple Top Fuel wins at the FallNationals. Over one stretch he raced to four finals in five years. It has been a while since he was in the winner’s circle but the win in 2013 is still fresh on his mind. He also remembers his first career Top Fuel final round from 1998 at the FallNationals.

“We have won a lot of rounds at the Texas Motorplex. Billy (Meyer) build a great race track. Kalitta Motorsports has a lot of history at that track. This is Toyota’s home track now so we all want to do well. I know there will be a lot of Toyota VIPs at the race. For me I love racing this Mac Tools dragster and Rob Flynn has really been giving me a great race car. We are going to try and get a great qualifying spot and then get four win lights on Sunday. If we do that I will like our chances for the final two races,” added Kalitta.

Last Event Recap (2020 NHRA Midwest Nationals): Qual. No. 5; WINNER: Beat Shawn Langdon, TJ Zizzo, Tony Schumacher, Steve Torrence

2019 NHRA FallNationals Recap: Qual. No. 10; Lost to Austin Prock

Quotable: Doug Kalitta on Top Fuel championship battle: “Steve Torrence is a tough racer but that is what you want in a competitor. This battle has been going on for a few years. No matter what happens I know I will have left it all on the track. I can’t wait to run these last three races.”

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Career Stats: 521 events, 514 starts, 708 round wins, 49 wins, 105 finals, 50 No. 1 qualifiers

2020 Season:
Winternationals: Qual. No. 5; WINNER; Beat Brandon Welch, Justin Ashley, Brittany Force and Austin Prock
Arizona Nationals: Qual. No. 8; RUNNER-UP; Beat Shawn Reed, Brittany Force and Antron Brown; Lost to Steve Torrence
Indy1 NHRA Nationals: Qual. No. 2; RUNNER-UP; Beat Lex Joon, Leah Pruett and Antron Brown; Lost to Billy Torrence
Indy2 NHRA Nationals: Qual. No. 6; Beat Doug Foley; Lost to Justin Ashley
Indy3 NHRA Nationals: Qual. No. 12; Beat Cory McClenathan, Clay Millican; Lost to Terry McMillen
U.S. Nationals: Qual. No. 5; Beat Pat Dakin; Lost to Justin Ashley
Gatornationals: Qual. No. 6; Lost to Terry McMillen
Midwest Nationals: Qual. No. 5; WINNER: Beat Shawn Langdon, TJ Zizzo, Tony Schumacher, Steve Torrence

This story was originally published on October 16, 2020. Drag Illustrated

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