YPSILANTI, Mich. (April 2, 2024) – All winner’s circle celebrations are not equal. They’re all rewarding, but some are more significant than others or bring a different kind of significance. One such occasion happened one year ago in Phoenix when Doug Kalitta celebrated a victory for the first time in, well, a really long time. The 2024 NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Season resumes April 5-7, 2024 at the NHRA Arizona Nationals in Pomona, Calif.

Last year in Phoenix, Kalitta won the inaugural Mission Foods #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge; it was his first victory-lane celebration since he won at St. Louis in 2020. He would go on to win three races and the 2023 NHRA Top Fuel title, but that special event winner’s circle celebration in Phoenix was an early indicator that big things were ahead for the veteran drag racer. Everything has to start somewhere.

“That was our first win in quite a while so it ended up being the start of something really good,” Kalitta said. “This Mission Foods program brought a new level of excitement to our sport last year, and that win ended up being really important with what we had going on last season. We really appreciate what Mission did for our sport then and that they stepped up as our series sponsor.”

Kalitta owns one win in five final-round appearances in Phoenix, and while his SealMaster dragster has made some excellent runs in this new season, Kalitta has yet to find the performance that propelled him to his first Top Fuel title last season. A win this weekend would be a welcome addition to his desert accolades.

“It’s always good to get a win under your belt as soon as you can, that’s how I look at it,” Kalitta said. “It’s just a motivator for everybody, and it shows you can contend early on in the season. When you get to the end, you need all the points you can get so it’s all about the wins for us. Phoenix has been good to us over the years.

“We’re just super glad, really, that they’re keeping that track open because there was a little debate on that. It’s a cool place to run with a lot of history there, and I’ve had pretty good luck there. I’m looking forward to racing there again this year. We’re always changing things around here and trying to improve on what we’re doing so we’re ready to see what we have when we get there.”

Race Information: NHRA Arizona Nationals – Firebird Motorsports Park, Chandler, Ariz.

TV Schedule (All times eastern):   

  • Qualifying 1: 9:30-11 p.m. Friday, April 5 on FS1
  • Qualifying 2: 10:30-Noon Sunday, April 7 on FS1
  • Finals: 6:30-9:30 p.m. Sunday, April 5 on FS1

2023 NHRA Arizona Nationals Recap: Qualified No. 1; defeated Rob Passey, lost to Shawn Langdon.

Doug Kalitta Career Stats: 588 events, 52 wins, 60 runner-up, 768 round wins, 53 No. 1 qualifiers.

2024 NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series Results To Date:

  • Gatornationals: Qualified No. 7; defeated Clay Millican; lost to Steve Torrence.
  • Pomona: Qualified No. 6; defeated Jasmine Salinas; lost to Billy Torrence.