CHANDLER, Ariz. (March. 25, 2023) — Doug Kalitta and his Mac Tools Toyota team raced to the winner’s circle in the inaugural Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge featuring a rematch of the semifinals and finals from the season’s first race in Gainesville, Fla., two weeks ago.
When Kalitta advanced to the Gainesville semifinals, he earned a spot in today’s Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge. During Saturday’s first qualifying session, Kalitta defeated Steve Torrence in a rematch of the Gainesville semifinal Torrence won. In the final round, which was also the final round of qualifying for tomorrow’s NHRA Arizona Nationals, Kalitta defeated Gainesville race winner Mike Salinas to return to the NHRA winner’s circle.
The Mac Tools dragster launched brilliantly and was ahead of Salinas before it encountered problems, but Kalitta still won the race. With the win, the team earned a $10,000 bonus and three Countdown to the Championship bonus points.
“We certainly appreciate the opportunity to run this event and thank Mission Foods for committing the money,” Kalitta said. “It’s a cool challenge, and it’s great to get new sponsors into the NHRA. The car was good up until about half track when it started giving it up, and I thought, ‘Oh man, I hope Mike doesn’t go around me.’ Fortunately, we got to the finish line, and the win light was on. I haven’t seen a win light go on in a final round for a while so I was super happy.”
In addition to winning the special event, Kalitta earned his 52nd No. 1 qualifier with his Friday-evening qualifying attempt, a 3.679-second effort at 330.23 mph. Kalitta will race Rob Passey in Sunday’s opening round.
“We’re definitely looking forward to tomorrow,” Kalitta added. “We had a good qualifying run Friday night with great conditions. We probably won’t see those conditions out here tomorrow so it’s gonna be a dog fight like it always is. With Alan and all these guys on our Mac Tools Toyota team, we’re hoping we can double up tomorrow.”
Should Kalitta be successful with a double-up win in the NHRA Arizona Nationals tomorrow, it would be career win No. 50.
“It would be nice to get to 50 for sure whether it’s tomorrow or any other time we can win one of these events,” Kalitta said. “It’s such a team sport and a team effort, and that’s the fun part for sure – but 50 would be awesome. Normally I have to fly home after the race, but when we win the 50th, I may have to talk Connie into sticking around to spend the night so we can celebrate with the guys. Hopefully it’s here, tomorrow but wherever it happens.”TV Schedule:
Qualifying 2: Noon-2 p.m. Sunday, March 26 on FS1
Finals: 7-10 p.m. Sunday, March 26 on FS1