Team Kalitta Drivers Doug Kalitta, Shawn Langdon, J.R. Todd Set for Season-Opening Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway

Photo Courtesy: Kalitta Motorsports

For veteran Top Fuel racer Doug Kalitta, “winning the championship is 100 percent our goal,” and why not? The driver of the Mac Tools dragster has done just about everything else in the Top Fuel class. He has six runner-up season finishes, 49 race wins and 51 No. 1 qualifiers to his credit. Kalitta also has three wins at historic Gainesville Raceway, site of this week’s NHRA Camping World Drag Racing season-opening Amalie Oil Gatornationals set for March 10-12, 2023.

“We want to get whatever round wins and race wins we need to put ourselves in position to win the Top Fuel championship, and that is absolutely the number one goal for our team for this year,” Kalitta said.

“There’s a lot of great-running cars so you have to definitely take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way. Each round win is very critical. We’d love to start the year out with a win to hit the ground running and then just settle in and hope you’re in contention to win as often as you can. It’s all about this team effort that we’ve got going on and the comradery amongst ourselves to build the best team and do the best we can at every race.”

While the ultimate goal is to stand atop the class following race No. 21 in November, other in-season goals are attainable more quickly starting with this weekend’s $130,000 Pep Boys All-Star Callout specialty race for which Kalitta is seeded fifth among the eight eligible drivers. Kallita’s average qualifying position last season was fifth, and that distinction earned his place in the field.

During the event news conference on Friday, March 10, opening pairings will be determined when the four higher-seeded drivers “call out” their opponents. After the first round during Saturday’s first qualifying round, the driver with the lowest elapsed time of the four remaining drivers will “call out” his or her semifinal opponent with the semifinals contested during Saturday’s final qualifying round. The two remaining drivers will race for the title and its $80,000 prize in a special pairing late Saturday afternoon.          

“We really appreciate Pep Boys putting this event on for us,” Kalitta added. “Having it at the first race is kinda cool because everybody’s just trying to get settled in for the year, but the team that seems to be running the most consistent right out of the gate will be in good shape. It’s cool that you can pick who you wanna run up until the final. It would be really nice to come home with a Pep Boys Callout win – it would be a great way to start the season.”

And when the cars roll up to the starting line for the first time this Friday, Kalitta’s Mac Tools dragster could have the cockpit canopy on it for the first time. The team tested the canopy in February and will test it again immediately before the Gatornationals to determine if it will run the canopy this season.

“The canopy was good,” Kalitta said. “Visibility is good, it’s quiet, which is one of the things a lot of people say. We’re trying to make it work better for our team, and we’ll have an opportunity to try it out again on Wednesday right before the first race. Alan and Brian (co-crew chiefs Alan Johnson and Brian Husen) like what they saw and don’t think the canopy is going to hurt anything, but we look forward to trying it out again when we get back down to Florida.”
Race Information: 
Amalie Oil NHRA Gatornationals
Gainesville Raceway, Gainesville, Fla. 
TV Schedule:  

  • Qualifying 1: 10-11:30 a.m. Saturday, March 11 on FS1
  • Qualifying 2: 9-10:30 a.m. Sunday, March 12 on FS1 (Pep Boys All-Star Callout)
  • Pep Boys Top Fuel All-Star Callout: 10:30 a.m. – Noon Sunday, March 12 on FS1
  • Finals: Noon – 3 p.m. on FOX Network

2022 NHRA Gatornationals Highlights: Qualified fourth; defeated Alex Laughlin, lost to Mike Salinas
Career Stats: 566 events, 738 round wins, 49 wins, 107 final rounds, 51 No. 1 qualifiers

Kalitta Motorsports PR

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