More Success Ahead in Charlotte for Doug Kalitta?

YPSILANTI, Mich. (April 23, 2024) – What started with Doug Kalitta’s 2023 NHRA Top Fuel title continued in the season’s first four races with the latest chapter of the Kalitta Motorsports resurgence coming two weeks ago in Las Vegas. The 2024 NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Season resumes April 26-28, 2024 at the NHRA 4-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway in Concord, N.C.

After some challenging years, Kalitta Motorsports is in quite an impressive stretch. Kalitta won three of the six Countdown to the Championship NHRA Playoff races at the end of last season. After Kalitta won a special event in February, his teammates, Shawn Langdon and J.R. Todd earned the first double victory in team history at the season’s opening race in Gainesville, Fla. Those Top Fuel and Funny Car wins came on the day Kalitta received his 2023 championship ring on the weekend the late Scott Kalitta was inducted into the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame.

Two weeks later, Langdon took the Top Fuel title in Phoenix, and then Kalitta earned his first four-wide victory in Las Vegas the following weekend. Entering the fifth race of the season, the Kalitta teams are second, second and fourth in points. Not terrible. When asked how this Team Kalitta resurgence came to life, Kalitta credited not only his uncle and team owner but also the entire three-car operation.

“There’s a hell of an effort going on, and we’re definitely proud of everyone that’s a part of it,” Kalitta said. “Connie (Team Owner Connie Kalitta) just turned 86; he keeps a very close eye on Shawn’s car because he’s tuned that thing forever. So it was great to get a couple wins with that car; he couldn’t be happier. It’s all about putting these teams together – Connie’s given us everything we could need with parts and people. Chad Head (Team Kalitta General Manager)– you gotta love that guy. He pours his soul into our three cars and the people with a passion for everything that goes on from the starting line to the parts to everything else. He’s a really big part of what we have going on.”

After last season, the team made some personnel changes, the most significant of which was separating tuner/crew chief Alan Johnson and his longtime assistant Brian Husen who was named crew chief of Langdon’s Kalitta Air Careers team. Mac Savage returned to the team as Johnson’s assistant, and the team hasn’t looked back.

“We’ve won a lot of races with Mac Savage, and it’s real special to get a win with Mac back on my car working with Alan,” Kalitta said. “We separated Alan and Brian – I think after 20 years they have maybe 10 championships and more than 100 race wins – so that was a little bit of a change for our team this year. Brian’s doing an incredible job on Shawn’s car; he’s working real close with Alan, and that was the goal. Try to get two good, solid-running cars that are exactly the same with two guys who communicate real well together. We’re trying to build on that; so far, I think it’s working. Mac had some big shoes to fill replacing Brian working with Alan. It’ll be a good dynamic with our two dragsters and J.R. with that Funny Car.”

Perhaps the final piece of the puzzle was switching Kalitta’s Mac Tools team to a new car that’s the same as the car Langdon debuted at the beginning of the season. It’s tough to get cars “exactly the same” when the cars themselves are different. Kalitta’s Las Vegas win was his first of the season, the 54th of his career and the fourth for Team Kalitta this season.

“We just switched to a different car in Phoenix,” Kalitta added. “It was just a matter of time getting more runs and letting Alan and the guys figure out what we have with that thing. I’m pretty excited second race in with this car, and we’ll just try to build on it. I’m hoping if we can get both of these cars synced together, we can really try to take advantage of a two-car team. That’s the goal. We definitely have the best in the business with Alan and Brian tuning these things.”

With three Top Fuel wins in four races, Team Kalitta will look for four out of five in Charlotte this weekend. After winning his first four-wide race ever two weeks ago, Kalitta is the only driver who could sweep the season’s four-wide races this year.

“We’re gonna try,” Kalitta said. “I have some hungry guys tuning my car, and I’m just as hungry as they are so we’ll see what happens. Charlotte is another incredible facility, and we’re looking forward to going there like we always do. Marcus and Bruton (Speedway Motorsports CEO Marcus Smith and his late father, Speedway Motorsports Founder Bruton Smith) put some great facilities together, and we’re fortunate they’ve done that for us. We’re looking forward to it.”

When Kalitta advanced to the semifinals in Las Vegas, he earned a spot in the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge at this week’s race. During Saturday’s qualifying sessions, the drivers who reached the semifinals in Las Vegas will re-run the semifinals in the 4-Wide format with the four winners advancing to the “finals” earning additional purse and championship bonus points.

Race Information: NHRA 4-Wide Nationals zMAX Dragway, Charlotte Motor Speedway, Concord, N.C.

TV Schedule (All times eastern):   

  • Qualifying Show: 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Sunday, April 28 on FS1
  • Finals: 6-9 p.m. Sunday, April 28 on FS1

2023 NHRA 4-Wide Nationals Recap: Qualified No. 10; lost to Josh Hart and Steve Torrence in the first round.

Doug Kalitta Career Stats: 590 events, 53 wins, 60 runner-up, 773 round wins, 54 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: defeated Shawn Langdon, Brittany Force and Josh Hart followed by Justin Ashley, Steve Torrence and Tony Stewart in the final round.