Doug Kalitta Looking to Land Second Topeka Nationals Title this Weekend
Two-time Topeka Nationals winner Doug Kalitta will be racing to become the second winningest Top Fuel racer at the historic track. There is a log jam of two-time Top Fuel winners, but they all pale in comparison to Scott Kalitta, the six-time Heartland Motorsports Park winner, who captured four wins at the now discontinued fall national event and two victories at the spring race. The Kalitta legacy in Kansas is one that Doug Kalitta is looking forward to extending this weekend with a specialty design on his Top Fuel dragster highlighting KalittaAir.com/careers.
“We have a really cool looking race car this weekend promoting KalittaAir.com/careers,” said Kalitta, who took Topeka titles in 2006 and 2016. “We did a huge display for Kalitta Air employees before the Western Swing and this is just a continuation of that relationship.”
The perennial championship contender has four final round appearances at the Topeka Nationals capturing runner-up honors in 2003 and 2004 before picking up his two national event wins at the multi-use facility. Kalitta also secured the No. 1 qualifier in 2005 behind the wheel of his traditional Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster.
“We have had a lot of good races in Topeka,” said Kalitta. “I am looking forward to getting back to that track. There is a lot of history there. This weekend will be a big one for us since we are working to lock down that spot in the Countdown going into the playoffs.”
The last two races of the Western Swing highlighted the progress Kalitta’s Top Fuel team has made as the season has unfolded. A semifinal finish at Sonoma and a quarterfinal finish in Seattle combined with strong qualifying efforts at both races have Kalitta eager to wrap up the regular season. This year Kalitta’s qualifying efforts have been one of the team’s strengths wrapping up a No. 1 qualifier at the Arizona Nationals and eleven additional top half qualifiers.
“We have a great race car and it is starting to come around on race day for us,” said Kalitta. “I have a lot of confidence in (crew chiefs) Alan (Johnson) and Brian (Husen). They have brought a lot of positives to this team and we are ready to have some long days on Sunday.”
Qualifying for the Topeka Nationals will start on Friday afternoon with two more sessions on Saturday. Final eliminations will begin at 10:30 a.m. local with FS1 broadcasting the race nationals starting at 2 p.m. ET on Sunday.
2021 NHRA Topeka Nationals Highlights: Qual. No. 9, Lost to Clay Millican
Last Event Recap 2022 Northwest Nationals: Qual. 4; Beat Alex Laughlin; Lost to Leah Pruett
Career Stats: 557 events, 550 starts, 732 round wins, 49 wins, 107 finals, 51 No. 1 qualifiers
Winternationals: Qual. 5; Lost to Tony Schumacher
Arizona Nationals: Qual. 1; Lost to Rob Passey
Gatornationals: Qual 5; Beat Alex Laughlin; Lost to Mike Salinas
Las Vegas1: Qual 6; Lost to Leah Pruett and Shawn Langdon
Houston: Qual 3; Lost to Billy Torrence
Charlotte1: Qual 4; Beat Alex Laughlin, Doug Foley; Lost to Mike Salinas, Cameron Ferre
Richmond: Qual 6; Beat Leah Pruett; Lost to Austin Prock
Epping: Qual 4; Beat Cameron Ferre; Lost to Shawn Langdon
Bristol: Qual 12; Lost to Brittany Force
Norwalk: Qual. No. 6; Beat Antron Brown; Lost to Mike Salinas
Denver: Qual. No. 8; Lost to Josh Hart
Sonoma: Qual. 2; Beat Ron August, Josh Hart; Lost to Mike Salinas
Seattle: Qual. 4; Beat Alex Laughlin; Lost to Leah Pruett
Shawn Langdon and DHL Team Ready To Take Down Topeka
Shawn Langdon, driver of the DHL Toyota Top Fuel dragster, is making positive moves up the Top Fuel ranks as the 2022 NHRA regular season comes down the homestretch. The 2013 Top Fuel world champion has moved up to seventh place in the Top Fuel points and is only 32 points out of fifth with three races remaining before points are reset and the six race Countdown playoffs begin. Two runner-up finishes combined with semifinal and quarterfinal race results have the DHL Toyota Top Fuel dragster building momentum at the perfect time of the season.
“This is when you want to start making moves,” said Langdon. “This DHL Toyota team has been making progress all season, but Bristol was a big turning point for this team I believe. Since that runner-up we have been running really well and picking up round wins on Sunday.”
Coming into Heartland Motorsports Park in Topeka Langdon will be looking to win for the second time at the Midwest track. Temperatures will be consistently hot with the extreme conditions all the teams faced two weeks ago in Seattle when Langdon qualified No. 6 and raced to the quarterfinals before losing to eventual event winner Tony Schumacher.
“It was really hot in Seattle, but the NHRA Safety Safari did a great job giving us a good track to race on,” said Langdon. “I would expect it to as hot or hotter this weekend in Topeka so we will just see what we can do. That first qualifying session on Friday will be critical to setting our DHL team up for success on Saturday and Sunday.”
Langdon won at Topeka in 2013 on the way to the NHRA Top Fuel world championships. The following year he returned to the final round and left with a runner-up finish. Last year the veteran driver qualified No. 7 and raced to the semifinals defeating Antron Brown and Billy Torrence before dropping a round to Clay Millican. The competition continues to test every team, but Langdon enjoys the challenge.
“I love being in my DHL Top Fuel dragster or any race car for that matter,” said Langdon, who also races big money bracket events between NHRA national events. “I try to keep my skills sharp and running bracket races or racing my Super Comp dragster helps give me an edge. I have one win this season in Super Comp at Bristol and we almost won that race in Top Fuel. That was a good weekend and I am looking forward to getting on track in Topeka.”
Qualifying will begin this Friday with one run followed by two qualifying sessions on Saturday. Top Fuel eliminations will lead off race day beginning at 11:30 a.m. ET and FS1 will broadcast the race from 2 p.m. – 5 p.m. ET.
2021 NHRA Topeka Nationals Highlights: Qual. No. 7; Beat Antron Brown, Billy Torrence; Lost to Clay Millican
Last Event Recap 2022 Northwest Nationals: Qual. 6; Beat Mike Salinas; Lost to Tony Schumacher
Career Stats: 300 events, 296 starts, 324 round wins, 17 wins, 37 finals, 19 No. 1 qualifiers; in Top Fuel: 252 events, 248 starts, 15 wins, 34 finals, 285 round wins, 19 No. 1 qualifiers
Winternationals: Qual 8; Lost to Josh Hart
Arizona Nationals: Qual 7; Beat Antron Brown; Lost to Mike Salinas
Gatornationals: Qual 21; DNQ
Las Vegas1: Qual 11; Beat Doug Kalitta and Rob Passey; Lost to Steve Torrence and Brittany Force
Houston: Qual 10; Beat Leah Pruett; Lost to Brittany Force
Charlotte1: Qual 14; Lost to Clay Millican, Josh Hart
Richmond: Qual 12; Beat Doug Foley; Lost to Brittany Force
Epping: Qual. No. 12; Beat Josh Hart, Doug Kalitta; Lost to Justin Ashley
Bristol: RUNNER-UP; Qual. No. 9; Beat Spencer Massey, Mike Salinas, Antron Brown; Lost to Justin Ashley
Norwalk: Qual. No. 9; Lost to Tripp Tatum
Denver: RUNNER-UP; Qual. No. 12; Beat Greg Carrillo, Mike Salinas, Josh Hart; Lost to Leah Pruett
Sonoma: Qual. 9; Beat Antron Brown, Leah Pruett; Lost to Brittany Force
Seattle: Qual. 6; Beat Mike Salinas; Lost to Tony Schumacher
J.R. Todd and DHL GR Supra Funny Car Focused on Building on Season Long Success
Last year J.R. Todd and the DHL Toyota Funny Car team had a nearly perfect race at Heartland Motorsports Park in Topeka. They qualified No. 1 and raced to the final round before dropping a close race to end the day. It was Todd’s 5thFunny Car No. 1 and 14th of his career. This season Todd is bringing momentum to the Midwest on the heels of a runner-up finish at the Northwest Nationals in Seattle two weeks ago. His DHL Toyota GR Supra Funny Car which the team unveiled at the beginning of the season is showing the promise of being a championship contender.
“Last weekend we dropped a close race and I know we have a car and team that can win races,” said Todd. “I am looking forward to getting back to Topeka because last year we came really close to getting that win.”
Todd has also reached the final round in Top Fuel dragster when he was just getting his professional career started. The ability and experience of racing at highest level of NHRA in two of the most challenging classes give Todd a unique skill set. He is part of an exclusive fraternity of drivers who have won in both categories.
“I am lucky that I have been able to race in Top Fuel and Funny Car,” said Todd. “I grew up racing junior dragsters and I got my Top Fuel license right after high school. The experience in Top Fuel was great but I love driving this DHL Toyota GR Supra Funny Car. It is a handful for sure. This weekend will be a challenge because of the heat, but it will be hot for everyone.”
Todd’s consistency this season has him sitting in sixth place in the point standings. He has recorded three semifinal finishes and three quarterfinal finishes leading up to Seattle’s runner-up. He is less than 90 points out of fifth place with three races left in the regular season. A strong showing in Topeka, Brainerd, Minn., and Indianapolis could position Todd for a strong run at a second Funny Car championship.
“This is the time of the season when you want to start really performing well,” said Todd. “If you can go into the Countdown fourth or fifth in the points you are in a great spot. We are working to get as high up in the points as possible. These DHL guys have been great all season and we just need to keep the pressure on all the other teams.”
2021 NHRA Topeka Nationals Highlights: Qual. No.1, RUNNER-UP; Beat bye, Ron Capps, Blake Alexander; Lost to John Force
Last Event Recap 2022 Northwest Nationals: Qual. 7; RUNNER-UP; Beat Blake Alexander, Bob Tasca III, bye; Lost to Robert Hight
Career Stats: 268 events, 260 starts, 295 round wins, 19 wins, 41 finals, 14 No. 1 qualifiers; In Funny Car: 116 events, 116 starts, 10 wins, 21 finals, 147 round wins, 5 No. 1 qualifiers
Winternationals: Qual. 8; Beat Bobby Bode; Lost to Ron Capps
Arizona Nationals: Qual. 8; Lost to Alexis DeJoria
Gatornationals: Qual. 11; Lost to Blake Alexander
Las Vegas1: Qual. 9; Beat Tim Wilkerson and Jason Rupert; Lost to Ron Capps and Matt Hagan
Houston: Qual. 13; Beat Bob Tasca III, Jim Campbell; Lost to Matt Hagan
Charlotte1: Qual. 6; Beat Dale Creasy Jr, Chad Green; Lost to Ron Capps, Mike McIntire
Richmond: Qual. 5; Lost to John Force
Epping: Qual. 10; Beat Blake Alexander, Cruz Pedregon; Lost to Matt Hagan
Bristol: Qual. 11; Lost to Cruz Pedregon
Norwalk: Qual. 7; Beat Blake Alexander, John Force; Lost to Robert Hight
Denver: Qual. 6; Beat Cruz Pedregon; Lost to John Force
Sonoma: Qual. 10; Beat Tim Wilkerson; Lost to John Force
Seattle: Qual. 7; RUNNER-UP; Beat Blake Alexander, Bob Tasca III, bye; Lost to Robert Hight