Two years ago Doug Kalitta and the Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster won the NHRA U.S. Nationals. This year the perennial championship contender entered the race as the No. 3 qualifier after posting a strong 3.751 second, 317.05 mph run on the first qualifying session of the event Friday night. The two additional qualifying sessions schedule for Saturday were washed away by day-long rain showers giving the teams only one run of data heading into the biggest race of the season.
In the first round Kalitta faced third-generation upstart Krista Baldwin and her Golden Greek tribute Top Fuel dragster. The veteran took a starting line advantage and never trailed in the race. His winning time of 3.794 seconds at 319.75 mph was just a tick off his qualifying time and gave his Mac Tools team valuable information as they headed to the quarterfinals.
In the second round Kalitta drew No. 6 qualifier Billy Torrence. In 2019 Kalitta defeated Torrence in the final round for his U.S. Nationals win. Today, in an awesome display of driving skill and tire smoke Kalitta almost took another victory over Torrence. Kalitta got a starting line advantage by virtue of his .065 reaction time and his Mac Tools dragster lost traction as it cleared the Christmas Tree. Kalitta lifted off the throttle just as Torrence was also having traction issues. Both drivers were on and off the throttle and shuffled the lead as they moved towards the finish line. Torrence was able to edge Kalitta for the win and Kalitta will head into the Countdown as the No. 10 Top Fuel team.
“We wanted to get another win at the U.S. Nationals and we felt good about our chances,” said Kalitta. “We tested after Brainerd and felt good coming into the race. It was tough losing the runs yesterday. We made a good first round run and that second round was just a tough situation. I was really working the throttle in the car for sure. We will look at these playoff races as our chance to finish strong.”
Qualified: No. 3 (3.751 sec, 317.05 mph)
Bonus points: +2 (3rd quickest of Q1)
Driver Qual R/T ET MPH
Doug Kalitta 3 .108 3.794 319.75 (W)
Krista Baldwin 14 .125 8.768 90.36
Driver Qual R/T ET MPH
Doug Kalitta 3 .065 6.840 168.18
Billy Torrence 6 .083 6.641 217.70 (W)
Kalitta Motorsports PR