This weekend Doug Kalitta and the Mac Tools Top Fuel team will be looking to rekindle some northern magic when they return to Brainerd International Raceway for the NHRA Brainerd Nationals. Kalitta will be vying to join a select group of three-time Top Fuel winners at the track surrounded by 10,000 lakes. A third victory would tie him for second most wins at BIR. The wins for Kalitta came in 2003 and 2005 but the passage of time has made him a better and hungrier driver.
“You like to go back to places where you have won and Brainerd is one of those tracks,” said Kalitta. “It has been a while since we won in Minnesota but we haven’t forgotten how to turn on win lights. We are searching for some consistency right now but we have a couple races before the Countdown so no one is panicking in the Mac Tools pit.”
The Mac Tools team has been in the championship conversation every year for almost two decade and this year is no different. The team isn’t where they want to be in the point standings but a strong performance in Brainerd followed by win lights at the prestigious U.S. Nationals can move Kalitta up before points are reset for a seven-race run to the championship. No matter where Kalitta finishes the regular season as long as he is in the top ten he will get a chance to race for the championship and the furthest he would start that chase would be 110 points behind the point leader heading into the playoffs.
“The Countdown is a huge equalizer,” said Kalitta. “We have gone into the playoffs at the top and this year we definitely struggled in the regular season. We are going to have to get some win lights this weekend and in Indy for sure. I think we just need to get some good runs in qualifying to set our team up for success on race day. I know we can do that.”
Kalitta and the Mac Tools team have earned two No. 1 qualifiers over the years at Brainerd International Raceway. This season Kalitta has started from the top half of the field over fifty percent of the races. He has raced to two final rounds and has advanced to at least the quarterfinals at six events.
“We haven’t had much luck and I know you make your own luck in this sport,” said Kalitta. “We have been chasing a few things but lately we haven’t been hurting the race car so that will help us this weekend in Brainerd. We want to just come out of the trailer on Friday and make a strong run and then build on that for our two sessions on Saturday.”
2019 NHRA Brainerd Nationals Highlights (event not contested in 2020): Qual. No. 7; Beat Terry McMillen, Steve Torrence; Lost to Mike Salinas
Last Event Recap (2021 NHRA Topeka Nationals): Qual. No. 9; Lost to Clay Millican
Career Stats: 535 events, 528 starts, 721 round wins, 49 wins, 107 finals, 50 No. 1 qualifiers
Gatornationals: Qual. No. 4; Beat Arthur Allen; Lost to Justin Ashley
Las Vegas1: RUNNER-UP; Qual. No. 3; Beat Troy Buff and Rob Passey, Beat Shawn Langdon and Leah Pruett; Lost to Steve Torrence
Atlanta: Qual. No. 9; Lost to Antron Brown
Charlotte1: Qual. No. 12; Beat Josh Hart, Billy Torrence, Kyle Wurtzel; Lost to Brittany Force, Josh Hart
Houston: RUNNER-UP; Qual. No. 9; Beat Brittany Force, Antron Brown, Shawn Langdon; Lost to Steve Torrence
Epping: Qual. No. 5; Beat Shawn Langdon, Lost to Mike Salinas
Norwalk: Qual. No. 11; Lost to Antron Brown
Denver: Qual. No. 4; Lost to Leah Pruett
Sonoma: Qual. No. 8; Beat Mike Salinas; Lost to Steve Torrence
Pomona1: Qual. No. 6; Lost to Clay Millican
Topeka: Qual. No. 9; Lost to Clay Millican
Kalitta Motorsports PR