JOLIET, Ill. (May 20, 2023) — Team Kalitta took a significant step forward during qualifying for the Gerber Collision & Glass NHRA Route 66 Nationals when the team posted its best cumulative qualifying effort of the season with the teams qualifying third, third and sixth for Sunday’s race.
Doug Kalitta’s three qualifying passes were 3.722, 3.749 and 3.702 seconds respectively making the three elapsed times within .047 seconds. Friday night’s 3.772-second effort was fourth, and the team remained fourth after its second-round attempt. As the sun began to set, teams were going around the Mac Tools Toyota team, but a 3.702-second pass in the final qualifying round made the team the No. 3 qualifier; it is Kalitta’s best qualifying result since he qualified No. 1 at Phoenix in March. Kalitta will race Kyle Wurtzel in the first round of eliminations with a potential second-round matchup with his teammate, Shawn Langdon.
“We’re pretty excited about moving our Mac Tools Toyota team up to third,” Kalitta said. “We were kind of slipping back before that last session so I was hoping we’d be able to come up with something good, and Alan (co-crew chief Alan Johnson) and the boys pulled out that ‘70 (3.702-second run). For race day, we’re just hoping to go some rounds and have some fun with this thing. We’re looking forward to it for sure. It’s been a team effort; we’ve been working on this thing all year, but that test was definitely big. Any time you can get out and help with what these guys are trying to work on, it’s definitely helpful.”
J.R Todd blasted out of the gates with a 3.906-second effort at 333.00 mph. and was No. 3 where the DHL Toyota team remained throughout the three qualifying sessions. His third and final attempt was a 3.926-second run at 329.81 mph. cementing his place as the No. 3 qualifier; it is Todd’s best qualifying effort of the season. Todd will race Bob Tasca in the first round of eliminations.
“I think testing Wednesday definitely helped us coming in here because we ran into some issues Wednesday that probably would have set us back a little bit here,” Todd said. “It’s nice to make two good – out of the three qualifying runs there. It sets us up good for race day.”
Langdon was sixth after the first qualifying attempt with a 3.745-second run at 331.12 mph and entered the final round of qualifying with the Autodesk Toyota team in the same position, but some drivers has driven past him when he ran the third round. The Autodesk team stepped up with a 3.721-second pass at 331.77 mph to secure his place as the No. 6 qualifier equaling his best qualifying attempt of the season. Langdon will race Clay Millican in the first round with a potential matchup with teammate Doug Kalitta in the second round.
“Collectively as a team, I feel all three cars did really well yesterday and today,” Langdon said. “We went testing last week, and it was really just us trying to get better as a whole team. Every car had its certain niches and certain things and just wasn’t really flowing right so just had to do a hard restart. I think the guys have been busting their butts on this Autodesk Toyota car, and for as much work that has gone into everything, the guys at Kalitta Motorsports deserve better results than what we’ve been getting. It’s not really been one thing – it’s been a group of things. I feel really excited about tomorrow. The car has been running well. Doug’s (Kalitta) car has been running really good as well so we have two good cars. I feel our chances are as good as ever right now.”
The Gerber Collision & Glass NHRA Route 66 Nationals airs on FS1 at 10 p.m. eastern time on Sunday, May 21, 2023.