Doug Kalitta and Mac Tools Racing for Record 7th Win at Auto Club Raceway
Heading into the final race of the season Doug Kalitta and the Mac Tools Toyota team will bring the confidence of being one of the winningest Top Fuel drivers at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona with them to the track. The 49-time Top Fuel winner has recorded six of those victories at the track located under the snow-capped mountains of Southern California. Kalitta has wrapped up the season with a win twice at the Auto Club Finals getting the last win light of the season in 2019 and 2016. He has also recorded two additional runner-up finishes in 2013 and 1999.
“I love racing at Pomona and we have had some great wins there at the Winternationals and the Auto Club Finals,” said Kalitta. “Getting another win this weekend would be a good way to end the season and head into the off-season with some momentum. We have been making a lot of changes and improvements all season. This would be a great weekend to see it all come together.”
Only Hall of Famer Don Garlits and 8-time world champion Tony Schumacher can match Kalitta with six wins at Pomona. Kalitta raced to five consecutive final rounds at the season opening Winternationals from 2016-2020, a record for the event, collecting three wins in a row from 2018-2020.
This season Kalitta has had several high points has he has maintained his position in the Top Ten. He was No. 1 qualifier at the Arizona Nationals, the 50th of his impressive career. The Michigan resident has recorded two No. 1s at the Auto Club Finals in 2006 and 2004. Two semifinal finishes in the Countdown this year buoyed the team as the season wound down.
“We started to get the consistency we were looking for once the Countdown got started,” said Kalitta, who has finished in the Top Ten every season of his professional career which started in 1998. “(Crew chiefs) Alan Johnson and Brian Husen have been great and we just had a lot to overcome this season. I am proud of how no one gave up and we came ready to win every single race.”
Last Saturday night before the Auto Club Finals Connie Kalitta and Doug along with the entire Kalitta Motorsports organization were honored by A Kid Again, during a special fundraising event “Adventure Takes Flight” at the Kalitta Air hangar in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Since the launch of the partnership between A Kid Again and Kalitta Motorsports just 18 months ago, A Kid Again has grown from serving 2,500 families in Ohio and Indiana, to now serving more than 11,000 families in all fifty states.
“Kalitta Motorsports has been instrumental in helping A Kid Again reach more families across the country, creating once-in-a-lifetime experiences for them at the drag races and connecting us with their incredible partners,” said Cassy Sleeper, A Kid Again Director of Strategic Partnerships. “Team Kalitta has been at the forefront of fueling Adventures and giving families across the country a time out from childhood illness. We are beyond grateful and proud to honor Connie, Doug and Team Kalitta for the thousands of priceless smiles and life-long memories they have made possible for so many deserving families through their generosity.”
Before the Michigan chapter began in 2021, the national expansion team including Sleeper and Kathy Greene Derr were working primarily with corporations, hospitals and nonprofit partners to bring A Kid Again to Michigan. Team Kalitta stepped up in a very big way, when they didn’t have to, to give these families the chance to race like A Kid Again at races across the country including Charlotte, Norwalk, Indianapolis, Houston and Dallas.
Kalitta and the Mac Tools team will have four qualifying runs this weekend and with points and a half available on race day a move up the point standings is a strong possibility. Final eliminations will begin at 11 a.m. with FS1 broadcasting the race nationally.
2021 Auto Club Finals Highlights: Qual. No. 10; Beat Josh Hart; Lost to Steve Torrence
Last Event Recap 2022 Nevada Nationals: Qual. 8; Lost to Antron Brown
Career Stats: 565 events, 558 starts, 739 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
Topeka: Qual. 5; Lost to Tony Schumacher
Brainerd: Qual. 10; Lost to Tony Schumacher
Indianapolis: Qual. 12; Beat Clay Millican, Mike Salinas; Lost to Brittany Force
Reading: Qual. 7; Beat Leah Pruett; Lost to Justin Ashley
Charlotte2: Qual. 5; Beat Shawn Langdon, Mike Salinas; Lost to Justin Ashley
St. Louis: Qual. 4; Beat Doug Foley, Brittany Force; Lost to Steve Torrence
Dallas: Qual. 7; Lost to Justin Ashley
Las Vegas2: Qual. 8; Lost to Antron Brown
Shawn Langdon and DHL Toyota Top Fuel Targeting Season Finale Win
Shawn Langdon and the DHL Toyota Top Fuel team will be racing for their fifth win at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona this weekend. The 2013 NHRA Top Fuel champion won the season finale in 2013 and 2015 and has recorded two runner-up finishes (2007 and 2010) at the final race of the season. A win at the end of the season would give the team a high note to cap off a season that has shown flashes of greatness since they turned the corner over the summer.
Runner-up finishes at Bristol and Denver over a three-race stretch gave Langdon and his DHL team a big boost heading towards the end of the regular season and into the Countdown. Following the Denver final, they raced to a semifinal and three quarterfinals to close out the regular season. Once the Countdown began, they picked up the pace recording semifinal finishes in St Louis and Dallas before a quarterfinal finish two weeks ago at the Nevada Nationals.
Sitting eighth in the Top Fuel point standings, a move into the Top Five is not out of the question for one of the best drivers off the starting line in the category. This weekend each round will be worth 30 points and Langdon is less than 100 points out of fifth. Strong qualifying runs, which could earn between four and one point apiece, and could also contribute to closing the gap.
“This DHL team has never given up this season,” said Langdon. “We have lost some close races and won some close races. We have one more chance to get a win this season and I am going to give it my best. I know I have a whole team behind me that is going to be doing the same thing.”
Langdon’s DHL Toyota Top Fuel dragster in addition to racing for win lights will be raising awareness for men’s health as well as breast cancer research thanks to support from DHL. He has campaigned the pink livery for the past three races and will be looking to make four clean passes on Sunday to draw attention to each of these important causes.
The first two qualifying sessions will get underway this Friday with two more rounds on Saturday. Final eliminations for the 16-quickest 11,000-horsepower Top Fuel dragster will commence on Sunday morning at 11 a.m.
2021 Auto Club Finals Highlights: Qual. No. 8; Lost to Tripp Tatum
Last Event Recap 2022 Nevada Nationals: Qual. 5; Beat Krista Baldwin, Lost to Tony Schumacher
Career Stats: 308 events, 304 starts, 331 round wins, 17 wins, 37 finals, 19 No. 1 qualifiers; in Top Fuel: 260 events, 256 starts, 15 wins, 34 finals, 292 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
Topeka: Qual. 9; Beat Clay Millican; Lost to Mike Salinas
Brainerd: Qual. 11; Beat Leah Pruett; Lost to Justin Ashley
Indianapolis: Qual. 15; Lost to Justin Ashley
Reading: Qual. 12; Lost to Steve Torrence
Charlotte2: Qual. 12; Lost to Doug Kalitta
St. Louis: Qual. 3; Beat Kyle Wurtzel, Tony Schumacher; Lost to Josh Hart
Dallas: Qual. 11; Beat Steve Torrence, Brittany Force; Lost to Justin Ashley
Las Vegas2: Qual. 5; Beat Krista Baldwin, Lost to Tony Schumacher
J.R. Todd and DHL Looking To Grab Another Pomona Win
The DHL Toyota GR Supra Funny Car and driver J.R. Todd are sitting in sixth place in the Funny Car point standings heading into this weekend’s NHRA Auto Club Finals. While a second championship is out of reach Todd knows he can play the role of spoiler and pick up a second win at the season finale race. During his championship season of 2018 Todd not only clinched the championship on the final day of the season he led his DHL Toyota team to victory. Winning the final race of the season this year will give the 10-time Funny Car national event winner confidence and momentum heading into 2023.
“You always want to win the last race of the season no matter where you are in the point standings,” said Todd. “There are sponsor appearances and shows over the winter and it is cool to be able to say you won your last race. Pomona is a cool track with so much history. Every driver wants to win there as much as possible.”
This season Todd has been breaking in a brand-new Toyota GR Supra Funny Car body and as the year has unfolded Todd has made impressive strides racing to the final round at the Northwest Nationals and consistently landing in the Top Five in points. The fact that there are 30 points per round available and Todd’s Funny Car has been running well in qualifying could give the driver who has national event wins in Top Fuel and Funny Car an edge to move up before the end of the season. Two weeks ago at the Nevada Nationals Todd secured his best qualifying position of the season, heading into race day as the No. 4 qualifier, and racing to the semifinals for the fourth time this season.
“We have all the pieces to win on Sunday there is no doubt about that,” said Todd. “We just need to get them all to line up on race day. Todd Smith and Jon Oberhofer have this DHL Toyota tuned up every race and I am doing my best behind the wheel. The new GR Supra body has been amazing and I know next season we will be in an even better place.”
Todd and the DHL Toyota team tested before the season started but every race was a new learning opportunity for the team. After every run engineers and crew members evaluated how the Funny Car performed making subtle adjustments. Thanks to the help and input from Toyota Gazoo Racing North America and Kalitta Motorsports sponsor Revchem Composites the new body is lighter and stronger giving Todd and his team an edge on the tuning side.
Todd’s racecar will once again be racing pink supporting DHL’s initiative to support breast cancer awareness in October and men’s health in November. Additionally, Todd along with the rest of Kalitta Motorsports will be hosting 75 veterans in their pits on Friday through a partnership with sponsor Clean Harbors. There will be a special piston presentation event between rounds on Friday. Saturday will wrap up with two more qualifying runs before final eliminations on Sunday.
2021 Auto Club Finals Highlights: Qual. No. 8; Lost to Bob Tasca III
Last Event Recap 2022 Nevada Nationals: Qual. 4; Beat Cruz Pedregon, John Force; Lost to Robert Hight
Career Stats: 276 events, 268 starts, 301 round wins, 19 wins, 41 finals, 14 No. 1 qualifiers; In Funny Car: 124 events, 124 starts, 10 wins, 21 finals, 152 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 Qual. 7; Beat Jim Campbell; Lost to Robert Hight 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
Topeka: Qual. 8; Lost to Alexis DeJoria
Brainerd: Qual. 7; Beat Jim Campbell; Lost to Robert Hight
Indianapolis: Qual. 8; Beat Cruz Pedregon; Lost to Ron Capps
Reading: Qual. 6; Beat Chad Green; Lost to John Force
Charlotte2: Qual. 6; Lost to Alexis DeJoria
St. Louis: Qual. 10; Beat Alexis DeJoria; Lost to John Force
Dallas: Qual. 7; Lost to Paul Lee
Las Vegas2: Qual. 4; Beat Cruz Pedregon, John Force; Lost to Robert Hight