POMONA, CA – Six times. He was runner up six times. Doug Kalitta is a runner up no more – he is the 2023 NHRA Top Fuel Champion. And for good measure, he’s also the In ‘N Out Burger NHRA Finals race winner taking his third win of the season.
Kalitta entered the weekend in second place in points just 15 markers behind Steve Torrence and four points ahead of third-place Leah Pruett. Chances were excellent this battle for the championship would go down to the final round, and that’s exactly what happened.
“It’s incredible the way the points thing worked out to come down to that last run,” the 2023 champion said. “I just stayed focused. It was obviously a big round, and it played out just perfectly. I got to the end of the track and was like, ‘I cannot believe these guys are still looking at me and high fiving’ because unfortunately, I missed the win light. Everybody was down there, and it was something I looked forward to all my life. It was a hell of a drag race, and it was nice to get the win.”
Kalitta qualified No. 5 and defeated Dan Mercier, Josh Hart, Justin Ashley and Leah Pruett on his way to the winner’s circle and the Top Fuel championship. After Mike Salinas lost in the first round, Justin Ashley moved to fourth in points, and the top-four drivers in points advanced to the semifinals.
Pomona, CA – J.R. Todd, DHL Funny Car, qualifying: J.R. Todd was the No. 9 qualifier at the In ‘N Out Burger NHRA Finals. Todd’s best qualifying attempt came in the Friday-evening session when he made a 3.904-second run at 326.08 mph.
Eliminations: Todd raced Chad Green in the opening round; the DHL GR Supra was on a solid run when it smoked the tires giving Green the round win and ending Todd’s season.
Unofficial Point Standings: Todd finished the season in eighth place in the NHRA Funny Car point standings.
Todd on Pomona: “We had better plans for the last race of the year, but that kinda fits in with how the year went. This season definitely had a lot – from our early-season issues to winning in Sonoma, it had a little bit of everything. Thanks to DHL, Revchem, Toyota and SealMaster for supporting us – I wish we could have done better for them today. To Todd, Jon-O (co-crew chiefs Todd Smith and Jon Oberhofer) and all the ‘Yella Fellas,’ thanks for battling.”
DHL, KALITTA AIR, KALITTA MOTORSPORTS JOIN FORCES, PROVIDE ONE MILLION MEALS IN “RACE TO END HUNGER”
YPSILANTI, MI – With some 44 million people in the United States currently experiencing food insecurity, DHL Express, Kalitta Air, and Kalitta Motorsports united their efforts in the “Race to End Hunger.” The initiative provides critical hunger relief for families in need, both during the upcoming holiday season and beyond. After successfully completing six NHRA racing events, the “Race to End Hunger” not only met but exceeded its monetary goal, equivalent to providing one million meals to people facing hunger.
For the past four years, DHL and its dedicated U.S. employees have been actively collaborating with local food pantries and the Feeding America® network of local food banks, as part of their annual volunteering and charitable-giving campaign. This ongoing program supports families in need while aligning with DHL’s mission to “Connect People, Improve Lives.” Last NHRA racing season, DHL supercharged its efforts by partnering with Kalitta Motorsports.
During the most-recent six NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series events, DHL, Kalitta Air, and Kalitta Motorsports made a substantial impact. For every “win light” achieved by Kalitta Motorsports drivers Doug Kalitta, J.R. Todd, and Shawn Langdon, which signified winning a round of racing, Kalitta Motorsports donated $1,000, matched by both DHL and Kalitta Air. As a result, each round win generated $3,000. The remarkable performance of Kalitta Motorsports drivers propelled the program to surpass its goal, amassing a total of $75,000.
CLEAN HARBORS, KALITTA MOTORSPORTS HOST VETERANS, SALUTE VETERANS DAY WITH LIVERY ON CARS AND TEAM HAULERS
YPSILANTI, MI – Patriotism. Service. Sacrifice. As the United States honors its military veterans on Veterans Day this Saturday, Nov. 11, 2023, Clean Harbors and Kalitta Motorsports are honoring these three attributes and recognizing this important holiday by hosting veterans in the Kalitta Motorsports hospitality area and including “thank you veterans” logos in its liveries at this weekend’s race. The 2023 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series ends this weekend at the In ‘N Out Burger NHRA Finals on the In ‘N Out Burger Pomona Dragstrip in Pomona, Calif., the last of six races that make up the Countdown to the Championship NHRA Playoffs.
Clean Harbors, North America’s leading provider of environmental and industrial services and the parent company of Safety-Kleen, is hosting 50 veterans in the Kalitta Motorsports hospitality area this weekend. Safety-Kleen is North America’s largest collector of used oil-related products; the company ensures those items consumed at NHRA Camping World Drag Racing events are disposed of in an environmentally-friendly manner.
In addition to hosting these veterans, Kalitta Motorsports entries driven by Doug Kalitta, Shawn Langdon and J.R. Todd will all feature a “Thank You Veterans” logo, but it will be most prominent on the front of Shawn Langdon’s Kalitta Air Careers Top Fuel dragster. In addition, the logo will also appear on the Kalitta Motorsports team haulers. The team will conduct a special driver autograph session in its hospitality area on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. for all guests and team-member veterans along with a group picture.
YPSILANTI, MI – It’s been a long season for 2013 Top Fuel champ Shawn Langdon and his Kalitta Air Careers Toyota team, but taking Langdon’s fifth Pomona win this weekend would make it feel a lot better. The 2023 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series ends this weekend at the In ‘N Out Burger NHRA Finals on the In ‘N Out Burger Pomona Dragstrip in Pomona, Calif., the last of six races that make up the Countdown to the Championship NHRA Playoffs.
Langdon swept the Pomona races in 2013 and ’15, and while that’s not possible in 2023, earning Langdon’s fifth Pomona “Wally” is possible. It would be considered quite the upset with Langdon currently 12th in points, but while it would make everyone feel a lot better about the 2023 season, it would also put Langdon back in the top 10 of the final season standings. Despite the team’s struggles this season, the Kalitta Air Careers team work ethic never wavered.
“This Kalitta Air Careers team never gave up this season,” said Langdon. “We had ups and downs, but this team is a great group of guys that worked as hard as they could all season. We all expected better results, but that’s the way it goes sometimes. We have one more chance to get a win for Kalitta Air, Toyota, Revchem and Future Energy Solutions this season, and I am going to give it my best. I know everyone on this team will be doing the same thing.”
YPSILANTI, MI – J.R. Todd’s pre-season goal, after a championship of course, was a top-five finish in points. That goal is definitely in reach entering the season’s final race. The 2023 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series ends this weekend at the In ‘N Out Burger NHRA Finals on the In ‘N Out Burger Pomona Dragstrip in Pomona, Calif., the last of six races that make up the Countdown to the Championship NHRA Playoffs.
With 20 of 21 races now in the rear-view mirror, Todd and team are in position for a top-five finish in the season standings. Entering this week’s final race of the season, Todd is sixth in points just 14 points out of fifth place, but what is interesting about the In ‘N Out Burger NHRA Finals is that NHRA awards points and a half. Instead of earning 20 points for winning a round on Sunday, the winning driver is awarded 30 points. With that in mind, Todd could potentially make up the 117-point deficit and move up to a fourth-place finish.
YPSILANTI, MI – Call it what you will for Doug Kalitta and his Mac Tools Toyota team: final round, medal round, game seven, championship heat, last race or, well, the NHRA Finals. Regardless, the entire season comes down to this one event and these four remaining rounds of 2023 racing. The 2023 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series ends this weekend at the In ‘N Out Burger NHRA Finals on the In ‘N Out Burger Pomona Dragstrip in Pomona, Calif., the last of six races that make up the Countdown to the Championship NHRA Playoffs.
For Kalitta, it’s an opportunity to accomplish the one thing he’s never done in NHRA Top Fuel Drag Racing: win a season championship. He’s been close many times. In fact, he has six runner up finishes in the season standings with his most-recent second-place run coming in 2019.
Earlier this season in the first race of the Countdown in Reading, Pa., Kalitta ended a different drought claiming his 50th race win after a nearly two-year wait, and he followed it up the next weekend with win No. 51 winning the first and second of the six playoff races. Those wins put him where he is today – 15 markers behind points leader Steve Torrence entering the season’s final race.
LAS VEGAS – Qualifying: Shawn Langdon was the No. 8 qualifier at the NHRA Nevada Nationals; Langdon’s best qualifying attempt came in the final qualifying session Saturday afternoon when he made a 3.711-second run at 327.51 mph.
Eliminations: Langdon and Tony Schumacher were the first pair of the first round. Langdon was on a solid run when the Future Energy Solutions dragster encountered an engine malfunction allowing Schumacher to take the win light 3.697 seconds to 3.744 seconds.
Unofficial Point Standings: Langdon leaves Las Vegas in 12th place in the NHRA Top Fuel point standings. He trails 11th-place Josh Hart by two points and 10th place Clay Millican by 28 points with one race remaining in the season.
Langdon on Las Vegas: “The guys on our Future Energy Solutions Toyota team are working as hard as they can – they have a great work ethic. We just can’t seem to find the right combination. We all want to do well for everyone who supports us like Kalitta Air and Revchem, but we want to do well for ourselves, too. We have one more chance – we’ll do all we can to finish the season with a good race in Pomona.”
Eliminations: Todd raced Cruz Pedregon in the first round. Todd left the starting line first, but both cars smoked the tires turning the round into battle to determine which driver could pedal his car best. Unfortunately, Pedregon reached the finish line first ending the day for the DHL Toyota team.
Unofficial Point Standings: Todd leaves Las Vegas in sixth place in the NHRA Funny Car point standings. He trails fifth-place John Force by 14 points and leads seventh-place Chad Green by eight points with one race remaining in the season.
Todd on Las Vegas: “This weekend definitely didn’t work out like we hoped. The first-round with Cruz (Pedregon) was exciting, but it obviously would have been a lot better for DHL, Toyota, Revchem and SealMaster if we’d gotten that win light. We can still get to up to fifth in points, but we need a good race in Pomona. We’ll give it another shot when we get there.”
LAS VEGAS – Qualifying: Doug Kalitta was the No. 4 qualifier at the NHRA Nevada Nationals. It was his 14th top-four qualifying effort of the season including each of the last eight races. His best qualifying attempt came in the final qualifying session Saturday afternoon when he posted a 3.696-second effort at 334.90 mph.
Eliminations: Kalitta defeated T.J. Zizzo before losing to Josh Hart in the second round when the DHL dragster’s engine malfunctioned at the finish line. Hart left the starting line before Kalitta and won the round by one thousandth of a second.
Unofficial Point Standings: Kalitta leaves Las Vegas in second place in the NHRA Top Fuel point standings. He trails first-place Steve Torrence by 15 points and leads third-place Leah Pruett by 19 points.
Kalitta on Las Vegas: “Josh had a better light (reaction time) than I had; it’s unfortunate and obviously bad timing. We’ll lick our wounds for a couple of weeks and get back at it. That’s all we can do. We knew it was going down to Pomona – that’s for sure.”