Top Fuel Veteran Doug Kalitta Looks To Remain Hot At Royal Purple Raceway For 30th Annual NHRA Springnational
If the last two years are any indication, a good start to the 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series has the chance to become even better for Doug Kalitta when he arrives at Royal Purple Raceway, the site of this weekend’s 30th annual NHRA SpringNationals.
The Top Fuel standout has posted two straight wins at the race in his 10,000-horsepower Mac Tools dragster, and a third straight victory would give him the most wins (four) in Top Fuel history at the facility. Currently fourth in the 2017 point standings with one final round appearance, Kalitta, whose 42 wins are fifth in Top Fuel, hopes a return to Houston means another early-season hot streak.
“The Mac Tools Toyota dragster team has performed well at the start of the season,” Kalitta said. “We are continuing to focus on each race as its own. We would like to pick up our first win of the season this weekend in Houston and continue our recent streak. The streak we went on last season featured some exciting finishes and was awesome to be a part of. We still have the same parts and people in place, and I am confident we could roll to a run like that again. However, the competition is very stout in the Top Fuel class, so it is extremely difficult."
Courtney Force (Funny Car) and Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) were also last year’s winners of the event that will be televised on FOX Sports 1, including finals coverage starting at 6 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, April 23. It is the fifth of 24 events during the 2017 season.
Last season’s win in Houston had a significant carryover for Kalitta as well. It was the first of three straight wins, a stretch that also included Kalitta carrying the points lead for six consecutive races. He ended 2016 with four wins, six final round appearances and a fourth time finishing second in points. The quest for that elusive first world championship continues – Kalitta has the most wins in NHRA history without a world title – but the standout veteran knows his Kalitta Motorsports team is capable of putting together impressive hot streaks.
“The feeling is great,” Kalitta said. “We are all out here to win races and championships, so when the Mac Tools team was able to do that last season we were all thrilled."
A first victory in 2017 would be a big boost to those championship aspirations in a class dominated by Don Schumacher Racing competitors thus far. Leah Pritchett won the first two races of the year, while teammates Tony Schumacher, the current points leader, and Antron Brown, the back-to-back world champ, both have victories through the first four events.
But with the addition of former Top Fuel world champion Shawn Langdon, Kalitta Motorsports now boasts its own impressive three-car lineup along with Kalitta and rookie Troy Coughlin Jr.
"When you add a championship-winning driver like Shawn and several more talented new crew, all it does is energize a program,” Kalitta said. “I can’t say enough about Steve & Samantha Bryson and the Global Electronic Technology people that really made this a reality. This gives us another team that we can share information with and that hopefully allows our team to be even stronger. Troy Jr. just wants to learn as much as he can. He is great at asking questions and taking advice in stride. He is a great guy, and he is going to win a lot of races."
Force’s Funny Car victory last year marked her first win of the season, something she’ll look to do again going up a loaded class that includes two-time 2017 winner and points leader Matt Hagan, defending world champ Ron Capps and seven-time Houston winner John Force.
Anderson won for the third time in Pro Stock at Royal Purple Raceway a year ago, and has a victory in 2017. He’ll face off against defending world champ and teammate Jason Line, along with 2017 winners Shane Gray and his son, rookie Tanner Gray.
The NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series makes its second of 12 stops in 2017 at Royal Purple Raceway. The event also features thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series. After Nitro qualifying on Friday, fans can watch the spectacular Larsen Motorsports jet dragsters sponsored by Florida Tech and Matrix System as well. Jet cars are thrust driven vehicles propelled by jet engines with exciting pre-run flame shows.
As always, fans can interact with their favorite drivers as they’re granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. This unique opportunity gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to see firsthand the highly-skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds, and get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers.
Fans also will want to visit NHRA’s popular Nitro Alley and Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create a carnival atmosphere, with interactive displays, simulated competitions, merchandise, food and fun for the entire family.
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 4:30 and 7 p.m. on Friday, April 21 and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, April 22, at 1:30 and 4 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, April 23.
WHAT: 30th annual NHRA SpringNationals, the fifth of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Drivers in three categories – Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock – earn points leading to 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series world championships. Competition also will be featured in the NHRA Lucas Oil Series and the NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Series.
WHEN: Friday through Sunday, April 21-23
FRIDAY, April 21 - LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying
NHRA J&A SERVICE PRO MOD SERIES qualifying at 4 and 6 p.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 4:30 and 7 p.m.
SATURDAY, April 22 - LUCAS OIL SERIES eliminations
NHRA J&A SERVICE PRO MOD SERIES qualifying at 3 p.m. Round 1 of eliminations at 5:30 p.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 1:30 and 4 p.m.
SUNDAY, April 23 - Pre-race ceremonies, 10 a.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES eliminations begin at 11 a.m.
Saturday, April 23, FOX Sports 1 (FS1) will televise three hours of finals coverage at 6 p.m. (ET).
2016 EVENT WINNERS:
Doug Kalitta, Top Fuel; Courtney Force, Funny Car; Greg Anderson, Pro Stock.
John Force, 7, FC; Warren Johnson, 6, PS; Jeg Coughlin, 4, PS; Tony Pedregon, 4, FC; Greg Anderson, 3, PS; Kenny Bernstein, 3, TF; Ron Capps, 3, FC; Larry Dixon, 3, TF; Mike Edwards, 3, PS; Bob Glidden, 3, PS; Cruz Pedregon, 3, FC.
Top Fuel - 3.724 seconds by Steve Torrence, April ‘16; 330.07 mph by Spencer Massey, April ’15.
Funny Car - 3.899 seconds by Tim Wilkerson, April ‘16; 328.06 mph by Del Worsham, April ’16.
Pro Stock - 6.519 seconds by Jason Line, April ’15; 212.66 mph by Mike Edwards, April ’13.
Top Fuel - 3.680 sec. by Antron Brown, Aug. '15, Brainerd, Minn.; 332.75 mph by Spencer Massey, Aug. ’15, Brainerd, Minn.
Funny Car - 3.822 by Matt Hagan, Aug. ’16, Brainerd, Minn.; 335.57 mph by Hagan, May ’16, Topeka, Kan.
Pro Stock - 6.455 sec. by Jason Line, March '15, Charlotte, N.C.; 215.55 mph by Erica Enders, May ‘14, Englishtown N.J.
GLENDORA, Calif. -- Point standings (top 10) following the 18th annual DENSO Spark Plugs NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the fourth of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series -
1. Tony Schumacher, 382; 2. Leah Pritchett, 376; 3. Antron Brown, 357; 4. Doug Kalitta, 301; 5. Brittany Force, 258; 6. Steve Torrence, 251; 7. Clay Millican, 187; 8. Troy Coughlin Jr., 176; 9. Terry McMillen, 164; 10. Scott Palmer, 148.
1. Matt Hagan, 368; 2. Tommy Johnson Jr., 324; 3. John Force, 314; 4. Ron Capps, 275; 5. Courtney Force, 218; 6. Jack Beckman, 205; 7. Robert Hight, 201; 8. Jonnie Lindberg, 183; 9. Jim Campbell, 180; 10. J.R. Todd, 170.
1. Greg Anderson, 380; 2. Jason Line, 367; 3. Bo Butner, 299; 4. Tanner Gray, 296; 5. Shane Gray, 278; 6. Jeg Coughlin, 266; 7. Erica Enders, 219; 8. Chris McGaha, 193; 9. Drew Skillman, 190; 10. Vincent Nobile, 183.