When Doug Kalitta won the NHRA Top Fuel opener in Pomona on Tuesday, it was a rather emotional victory for him. Not only was the race physically and mentally draining due to the large amounts of rain which plagued the track, but this was the first time that Kalitta won since losing his teammate and cousin Scott Kalitta last June in a tragic racing accident.
The dramatic circumstances surrounding Doug Kalitta’s victory only added to the overall drama and excitement of the race. Kalitta took a clean victory, defeating Antron Brown at 3.822 seconds to Brown’s 3.847 seconds. The event had already been running for six days – having been drawn out an extra two days by the rain which prolonged eliminations. During the course of the race Kalitta managed to defeat Urs Erbacher, Morgan Lucas and Cory McClenathan and fourteen of the other sixteen cars in the field. On the final round of the race it was between him and Antron Brown, with Kalitta clutching the victory just seconds ahead of his opponent. Kalitta was ecstatic. It was the 31st Top Fuel event win for the driver, putting an end to a 27-race winless streak since his cousin’s accident. The win no doubt also put an end to the concerns of his family-run team, which is headed by his uncle and father.
The NHRA Top Fuel victory was particularly emotional and even fans could empathize as Doug’s father Connie came running into the winner’s circle to share his son’s special moment. Speaking about the race afterwards, Kalitta said: “I think of Scott when I’m in the car. It motivates me to get up on the wheel. Winning this race is special. Connie won here and Scott won here. In fact, this is the car that Scott drove to the win here in 2005. I’m sure he’s proud of the fact that all three of us have won here now.” Doug Kalitta added: “It was also special that Connie was in the winner’s circle with us. I’m just happy he still enjoys this. This is his 50th anniversary in drag racing and it would be great to give him a big year.”