YPSIANTI, Mich. (July 19, 2023) – So close, but yet so far. Doug Kalitta reached the final round last weekend in Denver. That elusive 50th win appeared within reach, but it was not to be so the 49-time race winner will try to make it one round further in Seattle this weekend. The NHRA Camping World Drag Racing series resumes this weekend with the Flav-R-Pac NHRA Northwest Nationals near Seattle set for July 21-23, 2023.
The Mac Tools Toyota team showed impressive consistency in Denver making seven-straight passes with elapsed times within .11 seconds, but in the final round, the Mac Tools car smoked the tires allowing Clay Millican to win the race. The runner-up finish is a positive step, and another positive is Kalitta’s berth in this weekend’s Mission Foods #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge which Kalitta won in Phoenix earlier this season. This program provides an opportunity for the semifinalists at the previous race to re-run the semifinals and finals and earn valuable playoff points.
Kalitta and his Mac Tools team head to Seattle where the Michigan driver has one win in four final rounds with a healthy dose of momentum pushing the Toyota team closer and closer to its goal. And with all three Kalitta cars reaching at least the semifinals last weekend, good things could, indeed, be on the horizon.
“I am looking forward to getting to Seattle,” said Kalitta. “We ran really well in Denver and have been for a few races now. I think we can build on that this weekend. It will be hot, but I know (crew chiefs) Alan (Johnson) and Brian (Husen) will have this Mac Tools dragster tuned up.”
Kalitta qualified second, fourth and sixth at the last three races showing the kind of consistent reliability for which all teams strive, and the near win in Denver only adds to the anticipation of racing to just one more win light this Sunday.
“Our Mac Tools Toyota dragster has been great in qualifying for sure,” Kalitta added. “We have a great car and a great team – we just need a couple things to go our way on race day. I’m really proud of my guys with the way they’ve been busting their butts all season, and I know race wins are right around the corner.”
2022 NHRA Northwest Nationals Recap: Qualified No. 4; beat Alex Laughlin before losing to Leah Pruett in the second round.
Career Stats: 576 events, 747 round wins, 49 wins, 108 final rounds, 52 No. 1 qualifiers</>
2023 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series Results To Date:
Gatornationals: Qualified third; defeated Spencer Massey, Antron Brown; lost to Steve Torrence
Phoenix: Qualified No. 1; defeated Rob Passey, lost to Shawn Langdon.
Pomona: Qualified 11th and lost to Antron Brown in the first round.
Las Vegas: Qualified 10th; lost to Steve Torrence and Josh Hart in the first round.
Charlotte: Qualified sixth, lost to Leah Pritchett and Pat Dakin in the first round.
Chicago: Qualified No. 3; defeated Kyle Wurtzel, lost to Clay Millican.
Epping: Qualified 12th; lost to Leah Pruett.
Bristol: Qualified No. 6; defeated Clay Millican and Steve Torrence before lost to Antron Brown.
Norwalk: Qualified No. 4; lost to Dan Mercier in the first round.
Denver: Qualified No. 2; defeated Terry Totten, Josh Hart and Steve Torrence before losing to Clay Millican in the final round.
Current Point Standings: Kalitta enters Seattle in 9th place in the NHRA Top Fuel point standings. He trails eighth-place Josh Hart by two points and leads 10-place Clay Millican by 47 points.
TODD NOT OK GOING TO SEMIFINALS – “WE WANT TO WIN”
J.R. Todd and his DHL Toyota team have had some good runs in recent races. Three semifinals in four races is nice, but what this team wants, and needs, is a win, and with added consistency comes even more desire to reach the winner’s circle. The NHRA Camping World Drag Racing series resumes this weekend with the Flav-R-Pac NHRA Northwest Nationals near Seattle set for July 21-23, 2023.
These semifinals provide momentum and confidence. Last week in Denver, this team felt it had the car to beat but dropped a cylinder causing the safety shutoff to terminate the run. One year ago, the DHL GR Supra team reached the final round in Seattle. The recent consistency and round wins could propel this team to one more Seattle win light than it had last year.
“We had a really good, consistent car that was capable of winning the race on Sunday,” Todd said. “Going to the semifinals consistently is good momentum, but at the end of the day, you want to win races, collect trophies and as many points as possible. Hopefully, it’s something to build on going into the rest of the western swing. When it gets hot and tricky, that’s where this DHL Toyota team tends to thrive; I expect it to be warm in Seattle like it usually is, and that’s usually the kind of conditions when we run well so I’m looking forward to getting there. You’re happy to go rounds, but at the end of the day, we all have the same mentality. You’re not ok going to the semifinals –you want to win. We’ll keep digging and get after it in Seattle.”
With the Denver semifinal, Todd is once again qualified for the Mission Foods #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge for a rematch of last week’s semifinals. It’s another opportunity to turn on a win light and earn some points.
“We’re getting to the point now where it’s getting later in the year, and you have to start looking towards Indy and the Countdown when points do matter. We’re sitting there towards the bottom of the top 10 which is not the most comfortable spot. You definitely want to put some space between yourself and the guys in behind you, but you also don’t want to let the guys in front of you get too far away. I feel like we’re making hay at the right time of the year. We’re going to Seattle where we had some success last year so hopefully, we can take those notes and take it one step further and leave there with a trophy.”
2022 NHRA Northwest Nationals Recap: Qualified No. 7; defeated Blake Alexander and Bob Tasca, had a semifinal bye but lost to Robert Hight in the final round.
J.R. Todd Career Stats: 281 events, 307 round wins, 19 wins, 42 final rounds, 14 No. 1 qualifiers
2023 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series Results To Date:
Gainesville: Qualified sixth; defeated Blake Alexander, Robert Hight, Chad Green; lost to Matt Hagan in final.
Phoenix: Qualified 15th and lost to Alexis DeJoria in the first round.
Pomona: Qualified fifth and lost to Alex Laughlin in the first round.
Las Vegas: Did not qualify.
Charlotte: Qualified No. 6 but lost to Robert Hight and Mike McIntire in the first round.
Chicago: Qualified No. 3; lost to Bob Tasca in the first round.
Epping: Qualified No. 8; defeated Cruz Pedregon and Matt Hagan before losing to John Force in the semifinals.
Bristol: Qualified No. 7; lost to John Force.
Norwalk: Qualified No. 7; defeated John Force and Ron Capps before losing to Matt Hagan in the semifinals.
Denver: Qualified No. 7; defeated Tim Wilkerson and John Force before losing to Alexis Dejoria in the semifinals.
Current Point Standings: Todd enters Seattle in ninth place in the NHRA Funny Car point standings. He trails 8th-place John Force by 60 points and leads 10th place Cruz Pedregon by 26 points.