Doug Kalitta and his Mobil 1 Toyota team are feeling good about the progress they made in the first half of the playoffs but completely understand much more work lies between themselves and their ultimate goal. The NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series resumes this weekend at the NHRA Fall Nationals in Ennis, Texas, the fourth of six races that make up the Countdown to the Championship NHRA Playoffs.
That ultimate goal is the season championship that has eluded the six-time season runner up for his entire career. Will Kalitta win the title this year? Only time will tell, but what is certain at the moment is that the Michigan driver is in position to challenge for the championship, which is all any driver can want with three races remaining in the season.
“It feels good – leading the points is definitely a good place to be – ahead of all the other guys and girls in the hunt for this thing,” Kalitta said. “It’s definitely more fun, absolutely. It’s where we want to be and where we want to stay, but the competition is coming for us. We’ll be up for it for sure. We’re looking forward to getting down to Dallas and getting this weekend started. Mainly, it’s just trying to stay there, really, so we have to figure out what we have to do to qualify well and go rounds.”
Qualifying well is an area in which the Mobil 1 team excelled in 2023. Kalitta has 12 top-four qualifying efforts this season including each of the last six races. And as for going rounds, Kalitta has two wins and a semifinal in the last four races.
“I’m very confident in Alan (co-crew chief Alan Johnson) and all my guys so that’s the biggest part of it,” the two-time Texas Motorplex winner added. “We have to make a big team effort and make it happen, but this is what we do – we’re looking forward to the challenge. What we’ve been doing is working so we’re not looking to change a lot because we lead the points right now. We don’t need to get too carried away. We just need everyone to go out there and keep doing their jobs for Mobil 1, Revchem and Safety-Kleen and have fun at it. That’s what we do. It’s a great opportunity for sure.”
The weather could be a story this weekend as Friday will be far warmer than Saturday, and Sunday could be cooler than Saturday possibly making tuning decisions a bit challenging.
“Everybody’s running in the same conditions,” Kalitta said. “I’m real confident in my guys under any conditions – I’m just real fortunate to have the brain power we have on this Mobil 1 Toyota team right now. These guys have won a lot of championships so you just want to continue to be part of that with Alan and Brian (co-crew chiefs Alan Johnson and Brian Husen) and the rest of the guys that have won championships – we’re hoping to pull it off.”
And should they pull off a win this weekend, it will be with Mobil 1 livery on the car and Mobil 1 guests in attendance.
“Our relationship with Mobil 1 was developed through our relationship with the Toyota TRD folks,” Kalitta said. “Mobil 1 always has our backs with everything they do on the track and off the track. We are fortunate to have Mobil 1 behind us, and Texas is a perfect area for them – I think that’s where they have the most activity with some of their customers and vendors. We look forward to having them in our hospitality and definitely hope to win the race for them.”