TOP FUEL WINNER, POINTS LEADER Doug Kalitta, Mac Tools Top Fuel Dragster
Finals Broadcast Replay: 10 p.m.-1 a.m. eastern Tuesday, Sept. 26 on FS1 and 11 a.m.-2 p.m. eastern Wednesday, Sept. 27 on FS2.
Qualifying: Doug Kalitta was the No. 3 qualifier at the Betway NHRA Carolina Nationals; it was his 11th top-four qualifying effort of the season and the fifth-consecutive race at which he qualified in the top-four positions. Kalitta’s best qualifying attempt came during the opening qualifying session Friday evening when he recorded a 3.665-second elapsed time at 331.61 mph. When he ran 3.676 seconds in the second of the three qualifying sessions, it was his sixth-consecutive run in the 3.60s since switching to his backup car prior to eliminations in Reading Pa., last weekend.
Eliminations: Kalitta defeated then points leader Steve Torrence, his teammate Shawn Langdon, Leah Pruett and Mike Salinas on the way to his second victory in seven days. He won the rain-delayed Pep Boys NHRA Nationals in Reading, Pa., on Monday. Kalitta’s elapsed times today were 3.718, 3.741, 3.745 and 3.696 in the final round. The last time Kalitta won back-to-back races was in 2016 when he won at Houston Raceway Park and Atlanta Dragway.
Unofficial Point Standings: When he won his first-round race against Steve Torrence, Kalitta took the points lead for the first time since 2020. Kalitta leaves Charlotte leading second-place Steve Torrence by 63 points with four races remaining in the season.
Kalitta on Charlotte: “It’s incredible, really. Just can’t say enough about (co-crew chiefs) Alan Johnson and Brian Husen and this whole Mac Tools Toyota team; it’s hard to believe. I love running here at Charlotte. We had our Revchem guys here this weekend, and we really just wanted to go rounds – we made it to the best one.
“The sun was out today, but a lot of what my car’s been doing (since it was put into service before eliminations at Reading) was with low temperatures so it was nice – that thing was going down the track with 3.74s today, and then we obviously had to tune it up for the finals. Mike was right there so it was a really close race; it was good to beat him because he knocked us out of the No. 1 qualifier last night so it was a good day for all my guys.
“It’s been a while (since we were in the points lead); obviously with Alan and Brian and everybody – those guys are the ones used to winning championships so I’m glad I’m along for the ride with whatever we end up with so it’s a great start for us. I’ve gotten a ton of support from everybody that’s been following me over the years – we’ll just keep plugging.”
Co-Crew Chief Brian Husen on Charlotte: “We had to work hard to get here; it’s been a real long year. Sometimes you have to fail to learn how to be good at what you do. We’re just kind of hitting it at the right point thank goodness. Man, what a hell of a final. Good Times!”
Shawn Langdon, Kalitta Air Careers Top Fuel Dragster
Qualifying: Shawn Langdon was the No. 9 qualifier at the Betway NHRA Carolina Nationals; Langdon made his best qualifying attempt in the Saturday-afternoon session when he made a 3.719-second pass at 330.39 mph.
Eliminations: Langdon defeated Tony Schumacher before losing to his teammate, Doug Kalitta, in the second round.
Unofficial Point Standings: Langdon jumped a spot in points; he leaves Charlotte in 10th place in the NHRA Top Fuel point standings. He trails ninth-place Austin Prock by 29 points and leads 11th-place Tony Schumacher by 12 points.
Langdon on Charlotte: “The weekend was good overall; we were able to make up a little bit of ground in points, and we’re in the top 10 now so we hope we can keep moving forward and stay in the top 10. We still have a long way to go, but we’re doing whatever we can to make the Kalitta Air Careers car run better and more consistently like it did last weekend in Reading. Even if we made the best run we could have made, we wouldn’t have had anything for Doug’s 3.74 in the second round. We’ll move on to St. Louis and give it another shot for Kalitta Air, Revchem, Toyota and Future Energy Solutions.”
J.R. Todd, DHL Funny Car
Qualifying: J.R. Todd was the No. 8 qualifier at the Betway NHRA Carolina Nationals. He made his best qualifying attempt during the rain-delayed final round of qualifying Saturday evening when needed just 3.892 seconds to reach the finish line at 330.63 mph.
Eliminations: Todd raced Paul Lee in the first round, made a solid run but lost a close drag race. Lee’s 3.919-second effort reached the finish line before Todd and his 3.947-second effort.
Unofficial Point Standings: Todd leaves Charlotte in eighth place in the NHRA Funny Car point standings. He trails seventh-place Tim Wilkerson by six points and leads ninth-place John Force by 19 points.
Todd on Charlotte: “Today was shaping up to be good in points,” Todd said. “With guys ahead of us going out early, we could have made up some ground on them if we had a good day. Our DHL Toyota just never hit the ground running in qualifying. When guys are out here running low 3.80s, they’re setting the bar high, and we were runs behind all weekend. When you qualify mid pack, you get a car that runs pretty well, and Paul Lee’s car ran pretty well this weekend. Sure enough, he was loaded up and ready for us in the first round, and here we are looking forward to St. Louis. We just have to make quicker runs in qualifying and take it from there.”
Note: Shawn Langdon and J.R. Todd images are courtesy NHRA; Doug Kalitta image is courtesy Kalitta Motorsports
Next Race: Team Kalitta will be back in action Sept. 29-Oct. 1, 2023 at the NHRA Midwest Nationals in Madison, Ill. For additional information, please visit www.nhra.com. For additional information on Kalitta Motorsports, please visit www.teamkalitta.com.