Kalitta Leaves Vegas with Shot at First Championship in Two Weeks

Gary Nastase Photography

Doug Kalitta’s quest for his first Top Fuel Mello Yello world championship will come down to the final race of the season in Pomona. Kalitta had the race car to beat today at the Vegas NHRA Nationals but a catastrophic turn of events in the semifinal round derailed his race day. As the No. 9 qualifier Kalitta battled through two tough first round wins to set up a race against point leader Steve Torrence. With one race to go on the season Kalitta who sits No. 3 in the Mello Yello points will only need to overcome a 55 point deficit at the Auto Club Finals where each round of racing will be worth 30 points.

At the start of race day the Mac Tools team was the first race car down the track facing off with Shawn Reed. Two weeks ago Reed upset point leader Steve Torrence in the first round at the NHRA FallNationals. Kalitta and his Mac Tools team were not taking him lightly. In a very close race Kalitta took the win leading from the starting line to the finish line.

“That was a big win for us. I have to take my hat off to my whole Mac Tools team,” said Kalitta from the top end. “The nerves are up and we are all just trying to make it happen. It is great to see all these fans out here. I am sure they are going to see a good show today.”

In the second round Kalitta had to take on the event No. 1 qualifier Leah Pritchett. Once again Kalitta was in the first pair to start the quarterfinals. Kalitta took a big starting line advantage and just flew down the race track in front of a tire smoking Pritchett. Kalitta’s winning time of 3.737 seconds was enough to put the pressure on the rest of his Countdown opponents.

“It is getting fun out here for sure. The guys are doing an awesome job on this Mac Tools race car going down the race track like that. We have to just keep going A to B. We have a lot of support out here from Mac Tools, Global and Toyota and we are trying to do well,” said Kalitta after second round win.

In a dramatic semifinal round Kalitta suffered a mechanical malfunction on his burnout which deployed his chutes and shut off his Mac Tools dragster after his burnout. The driver he was chasing in the points was able to make a single run to the final.

“I don’t know what happened,” said Kalitta. “I was going forward and the thing just shut off. It is just real unfortunate. We were definitely going to give it our best out there to see if we could get by Steve. We are just going to drag it out to Pomona and just go after the championship there.”

Quotable: 
Doug Kalitta on heading to Pomona in third place: “It will be a battle for the championship. We knew it would come down to the last race of the season. I am very excited to have this Mac Tools team on my side. We will all be ready to race for this championship.”

Statistics:
Qualified: No. 9 (3.725 sec., 329.67 mph) 
Bonus points: 0

Race Details: 

First Round
Driver                                    Qual       R/T         ET           MPH 
Doug Kalitta                         9              .077        3.722     324.67 (W)
Shawn Reed                          8              .087        3.734     322.58

Second Round
Driver                                    Qual       R/T         ET           MPH 
Doug Kalitta                         9              .063        3.737     323.81 (W)
Leah Pritchett                        1              .108        9.039     50.45

Semifinal Round
Driver                                    Qual       R/T         ET           MPH 
Doug Kalitta                       9              No run  – broke on burnout
Steve Torrence                    5              .054        3.689     330.55 (W)  

Kalitta Motorsports PR

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