History for Doug Kalitta With Third Consecutive Winternationals Win
Pomona, CA – Doug Kalitta and the Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster continued their mastery of the NHRA Winternationals and Auto Club Raceway at Pomona winning the season opening race for the third consecutive year. The team extended its round win streak to twelve rounds going back to last year’s Winternationals, the season finale Auto Club Finals and today’s event. Kalitta will leave Pomona with the Mello Yello points lead and the confidence earned by defeating the No. 1 and No. 2 qualifiers on the way to the winner’s circle.
“It was definitely an interesting day,” said Kalitta in the Shav Glick Media Center. “There was a lot of close racing today. You’ve got people up their trying to tear the tree down on you, so it makes you a little bit nervous. It worked out really well for us. I’m just so proud of my Mac Tools Toyota guys. They busted their tails today. We tore up a few parts, but it was all good. To win the 60th Winternationals is pretty special. Connie (Kalitta) was here at the first one and he’s here with us and I couldn’t be happier for him. He’s created an amazing legacy out here and I’m just glad this is one of our better tracks.”
The win today was Kalitta’s 48th career Top Fuel win. He was racing in his fifth consecutive final round at the Winternationals. The success at the race track located just outside Los Angeles has made Kalitta feel quite at home on the west coast. Putting a finger on the how and why of the success is something Kalitta has been unable to ascertain.
“I wish I could pinpoint that. I just have a lot of great people behind me,” said Kalitta. “On race day, we have all the Toyota and TRD support staff out here helping us with whatever track conditions we’re looking at. They give us a lot of great feedback and we also get a lot of support from sponsors like NGK Spark Plugs and Mobil 1. Really, our success comes from the entire team. I wish I could take credit for it. It’s a place with a lot of history and it’s very special to me.”
The NHRA was celebrating the 60th running of the Winternationals and for Kalitta Motorsports the event has been a mainstay since team owner and NHRA legend Connie Kalitta attended the inaugural event in 1960. Doug Kalitta’s career started over thirty years ago and the veteran driver has been a perennial championship contender for well over the past decade.
“I started working for him right when I got out of high school, so it’s been quite a while,” explained Kalitta. “He’s provided me with a lot of great opportunities. I loved everything he was doing and he was happy to have someone who wanted to learn about airplanes and race cars. I don’t come out on the weekend and try to tune anything and Connie’s still in there tuning. That’s what he enjoys doing. It keeps his passion going – and Shawn Langdon’s car has been running good. It’s going to be a car that’s tough to beat. I’m just real proud that Connie’s still out here doing what he’s doing.”
The final round was a classic Winternationals battle. Two top-tier teams squaring off for the first win of the season. It was championship contender Doug Kalitta versus reigning Rookie of the Year Austin Prock. Kalitta had just dispatched Prock’s teammate and No. 1 qualifier Brittany Force.
“You’re in the finals at Pomona and you’re just waiting for that win light not to come on,” said Kalitta. “Down at the top end, I was looking at that thing and I was just happy to see that yellow light. Austin’s going to do big things. He’s a great driver and he’s killer on the tree. It’s going to be an interesting year with all these younger drivers that are hungrier than heck. We’re just going to keep at it.”
The Mac Tools Top Fuel team posted top three runs in three of the four qualifying sessions. On race day they were consistently quickest of their sessions. Their two best runs of the weekend came in the semifinals and then the finals.
“I have to give all the credit to my crew chiefs, Rob (Flynn) and Troy (Fasching) and everyone that works on my car,” added Kalitta. “The thing that I’m really excited about this year is that I have all of my same guys back in place from last year. We had some great momentum going toward the end of last year. We’ve got the team together and they’re doing a great job. I take my hat off to them. We are hungry. We’re all trying to win a championship and my guys are all working hard to pull it off. We just want to win.”