Defending his inaugural NHRA world championship is going quite well for Doug Kalitta in 2024. The veteran Top Fuel driver at Kalitta Motorsports won his third race of the season when he took home the title at the PlayNHRA Virginia Nationals in Richmond, Va., on Sunday.

Facing Grueling Heat Conditions

NHRA’s professional racing teams faced grueling heat conditions at the Virginia Nationals at Virginia Motorsports Park. Temperatures for both days were expected to be in the 90-degree range, making the work and tuning even tougher for the crew and crew chiefs at the ninth event of the 2024 season.

The silver lining? Virginia Motorsports Park dragstrip is lauded for its smoothness and traction, making it one of the best in the country. But despite this, the conditions remained challenging for our crew chiefs, and for drivers in heavy fire suits with cockpit temperatures soaring over 150 degrees.

To combat the heat, NHRA introduced three qualifying sessions on Saturday for the first time during the two-day event.

Qualifying Round Highlights

Top Fuel veteran Doug Kalitta secured the No. 2 qualifier spot at the PlayNHRA Virginia NHRA Nationals. Each time the Kalitta Motorsports Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster hit the track for one of Saturday’s three qualifying sessions, Kalitta’s elapsed time improved.

In the final session, right after his teammate, Shawn Langdon ran a 3.872 ET pass at 319.82 MPH, which moved him into the first spot. Kalitta posted a 3.883 ET at 318.69 MPH, securing the number two spot.


Doug Kalitta had a bye in the first round and then defeated Josh Hart in the second before a line of thunderstorms moved through the area. After a rain delay, the conditions became far cooler than the scorching temperatures of the weekend.

Kalitta Motorsports Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster then defeated Tony Stewart to reach the final round against his teammate, Shawn Langdon. Langdon defeated Lex Joon, Steve Torrence, and Antron Brown to reach the final round. It was Langdon’s fourth final round of the season.

In the cooler conditions, Doug Kalitta made a brilliant final-round run with a 3.752 ET effort at 333.41 MPH to take his third win in the season’s first nine races. Langdon and Kalitta were side-by-side when the Kalitta Air Careers car smoked the tires, giving Kalitta the win, with Doug recording the quickest and fastest pass of the weekend.

Watch the Video Here: Doug Kalitta Wins Richmond – takes his third Wally of the season

Celebrating a Milestone

It was Kalitta’s 55th-career win and his first at Virginia Motorsports Park since 2007. The win was also the sixth for Kalitta Motorsports in the season’s first nine races. Doug Kalitta leaves Virginia in first place in the NHRA Top Fuel point standings. He leads his teammate, second-place Shawn Langdon, by 67 points.


Doug’s Thoughts on the Win

“It was good,” Doug Kalitta said about his victorious Sunday. “Brian (Husen, Langdon’s Crew Chief) is obviously doing a great job with Shawn on the Kalitta Air Careers car.”

“It has been interesting this year with the performance of my car and maybe I’m overthinking it a little bit,” Kalitta said. “I’m just working as hard as I can to do a good job in this thing. You would love to have .050 lights every round or whatever, but I have been fortunate my car with its performance has got me out of a couple of jams. It is a crazy balance you try to keep to getting these win lights out here. We are all just trying to do our best.”

A Team Effort

Kalitta and Langdon have won five of the nine races on the schedule so far. Kalitta improved his elimination-round record this season to 19-6.

Kalitta and Langdon were dominant at Virginia Motorsports Park this past weekend as Langdon was No. 1 qualifier with his 3.872-second elapsed time at 319.82 mph in Q3. Kalitta was No. 2 at 3.883 seconds at 318.69 mph.

Doug won a career-best five races in 2005 and 2006. A year ago, Kalitta won three races — all in the final six races of the season in the Countdown to the Championship.

“It has been good,” said Kalitta, who has won six of the past 15 NHRA national events. “It’s a hell of an opportunity. We have worked to get to this point for a long time and really to see it come together.”

 What’s Next

Kalitta Motorsports Mac Tools Top Fuel race team is headed to the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals on June 28-30 in Norwalk, Ohio. Kalitta has one career win in Norwalk in 2015, defeating Antron Brown in the final round.