Doug Kalitta Throws First Pitch, Readies For Richmond Return

Doug-At-Detroit-Game

YPSILANTI, Mich. (June 18, 2024) – Eight races into the 2024 season, Doug Kalitta is back where he was at the end of last season – atop the point standings leading the Top Fuel class, but last week, the reigning champ took time out to live a dream millions of kids have every day. The 2024 NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Season resumes June 22-23, 2024 at the PlayNHRA Virginia NHRA Nationals in Dinwiddie, Va.

Kalitta threw a ceremonial first pitch prior to the Washington Nationals vs. Detroit Tigers game on Wednesday, June 12. As a lifelong resident of the Detroit area, Kalitta was thrilled to have the opportunity. He sought assistance from a trusted source and took the advice of a new contact to prepare.

Doug Tigers Game

“My daughter (Avery) helped me practice a little bit,” Kalitta said. “One thing that really helped, the guy who met us and took us down to the field was adamant, ‘Do not hit the dirt with the ball.’ For whatever reason, that’s frowned upon. We managed not to do that, and the guy caught it so that was positive. It was a little wide to my left, but he caught it so that was a victory there. It was definitely cool. I grew up down the road from there, and my grandfather was a big Tigers fan so it was really special. I appreciate everyone that helped make that happen for me, and they put a nice sign up on the scoreboard out there so yeah, it was cool.”

With a win in two final rounds in the last two races, Kalitta moved to the top of the standings. In the season’s first eight races, he has a two wins in four final rounds. Reaching the final round in half of the races this season is performing at a very high level, and this team shows no signs of slowing down.

“It really feels like this Mac Tools Toyota team is just getting stronger,” Kalitta said. “It feels really good because everybody’s put a lot of hard work into this thing, and we’re all trying our best to make it happen so it’s really exciting to see it continue to build. Alan and Mac (Crew Chief Alan Johnson and Assistant crew chief Mac Savage) are really doing a great job, and all the Mac Tools guys are doing their part making it as consistent as possible putting it together like they do.”

The NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series returns to Virginia Motorsports Park this weekend for the first time since 2022, and for the first time, the event will be a two-day show with three qualifying sessions on Saturday before racing on Sunday. Kalitta has a win in two final-round appearances at the Viriginia race track and plans to do his part to keep his team on the roll it’s enjoying.

“I’m certainly trying my best to do what I need to do so with any luck, we can head to Richmond and get the job done,” Kalitta added. “It’s kind of exciting to have this different format with the two-day deal – really looking forward to getting back out there after making it to the final at the last race.”

With extremely hot conditions in the forecast, crew chiefs will be challenged to get the cars down the race track despite one of the best racing surfaces on the circuit.

“Alan has so much experience tuning these things, I’m not sure how he keeps making it run better and making it work in all these different conditions, but it’s definitely fun to be part of it,” Kalitta said. “I think the track is all concrete there which does help with the heat. It’s nice and smooth so the track shouldn’t be too bad except for the temperature. It should be a good test for everybody to see how to figure out the heat. We’re making all three qualifying runs on Saturday – we hope to go into Sunday with a good handle on the track, make it to the final and have a shot at winning. I feel good about it. It’ll be an interesting format to have when it seems like the right thing to do so it’ll be good to kind of test it out and see how it works.”

When Kalitta advanced to the Bristol semifinals, he earned a spot in the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge next week. During Saturday’s qualifying sessions in Virginia, the drivers who reached the semifinals in Bristol will re-run the semifinals and final earning additional purse and championship bonus points.

Race Information:

PlayNHRA Virginia NHRA Nationals Virginia Motorsports Park; Dinwiddie, Va. 

TV Schedule (All times eastern):   

  • Qualifying Show 1: 1-2 p.m. Saturday, June 22 on FS1
  • Qualifying Show 2: 1-2 p.m. Sunday, June 23 on FS1
  • Finals: 5-8 p.m. Sunday, June 23 on FS1

2022 Virginia NHRA Nationals Recap: Qualified No. 7; beat Leah Pruett, lost to Austin Prock.

Doug Kalitta Career Stats: 595 events, 54 wins, 61 runner-up, 782 round wins, 56 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.
  • Phoenix: Qualified No. 3; defeated Terry Totten; lost to Justin Ashley.
  • Las Vegas 4W: Qualified No. 1; defeated Shawn Langdon in the first round, Brittany Force and Josh Hart in the semifinals followed by Justin Ashley, Steve Torrence and Tony Stewart in the final round.
  • Charlotte 4W: Qualified No. 1; defeated Shawn Reed and Cody Krohn in the first round, Billy Torrence and Jasmine Salinas in the semifinals before beating Antron Brown but losing to Justin Ashley and Clay Millican in the final round.
  • Chicago: Qualified No. 3; lost to Justin Ashley.
  • Epping: Qualified No. 1; defeated Scott Farley, Tony Stewart, Shawn Langdon and Tony Schumacher.
  • Bristol: Qualified No. 14; defeated Antron Brown, Steve Torrence, Brittany Force; lost to Tony Schumacher.