Doug Kalitta’s bid to capture the NHRA Mello Yello Top Fuel world championship came very close with a season ending victory at the 2019 NHRA Finals. However, the Mac Tools Top Fuel team came up three points short and finished in second place to Steve Torrence.
That season-opening win in February was sealed by beating Steve Torrence in the final round. Unfortunately, Kalitta didn’t get that chance this year, and even if he had he still would not have stopped Torrence from winning the championship. However, the season-ending result was the next best thing even if it meant beating Kalitta Racing teammate Richie Crampton in the final.
“I love running here at Pomona and to come out of here with a win in the 60th year with Connie. He’s out here tuning Richie in the final and we knew he’d have it all tuned up”, Kalitta remarked.
Connie’s an inspiration to me and everyone on our teams. He’s had a pretty impressive run and he still loves it. To have someone like that who’s so passionate is infectious to everyone involved.
Using the momentum from the win at the prestigious U.S. Nationals, the Rob Flynn and Troy Fasching tuned Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster qualified number 6. During eliminations, Kalitta worked his way past tire-smoking Terry McMillen in round one, then in the next round pushed his way past similarly traction less rookie Justin Ashley, but at the expense of a top-end blower explosion that normally would not win a round.
“We completely blew that thing up,” said Kalitta. “We just broke traction and I legged that thing down there and it was a helluva explosion, but all of the guys chipped in and we got it back together”, Kalitta proudly said of his team.
In semi-final round action Kalitta met Leah Pritcheet and ran a convincing 3.730 ET at 331.85 MPH to Pritchett’s 3.908 at 302.08. Final round Kalitta ran a respectable 3.716 ET at 322.67 MPH to close out the season.
“In qualifying, with Steve Torrence getting above us in Q4 to take a 63-point lead it put us down three rounds and that was tough to make up. We ended up short, but we gave it all we could. Obviously, it’s still on my list to win a championship”, Kalitta said after the race.
This was Kalitta’s fifth runner-up finish for the Top Fuel championship. The veteran driver finished second in 2016, 2006, 2004 and 2003.
Kalitta Motorsports high notes of the season:
Richie Crampton, wh will relinquish the seat in the second Kalitta DHL backed dragster next season, went out on a high note, winning in Gainesville and Reading, which boosted him from ninth seed in the Countdown to a lofty fifth.
Shawn Langdon powered the Global Electronic Technology Toyota Camry to the quarterfinals at the Auto Club Finals to wrap up his second season in Funny Car. Langdon captured a win in St Louis in the Countdown as well as a win at the Carolina Four-Wide Nationals. Langdon ended the season in ninth place in the NHRA Mello Yello point standings.
J.R. Todd came up short in his quest to win back-to-back Auto Club Finals driving the DHL Toyota Camry making it the quarterfinals at Pomona. Todd will end his third season behind the wheel of the funny car seventh in the Mello Yello point standings.