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Doug Kalitta Takes Home The Wally in Pomona

The 2018 season has officially kicked off for the National Hot Rod Association with the season-opening Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals wrapping up yesterday afternoon following an insanely explosive weekend that saw countless engine explosions and reigning Top Fuel world champion Brittany Force sent to the hospital after a scary crash in the first round of eliminations.

However, it wasn’t all bad news, especially in the Kalitta Racing pits, where the team would end the day celebrating after Doug Kalitta took home the win over Tony Schumacher in the final round after Schumacher’s engine expired about a second and a half into the run, leaving the door open for Kalitta’s safe but effective 3.77 elapsed time to earn him the first Wally of the young season.

Kalitta kicked off eliminations in spectacular fashion by completely demolishing an engine in the opening round alongside teammate Richie Crampton, who smoked the tires early in the run. In the stunning photo from Mark Rebilas, you can see just how devastating the explosion was, with the injector itself – which generally escapes damage – being completely destroyed.

The team would thrash in the pits to get a fresh bullet dropped into the frame and made the call for round two, where Doug took out Scott Palmer in a great side-by-side drag race, 3.76 to Palmer’s solid 3.83 elapsed time. This would advance Kalitta to the semifinals where he took on our own Clay Millican. Millican, who came into eliminations as the #1 qualifier fresh off resetting his own world record in qualifying, lost a cylinder at the hit of the throttle, leaving him helpless to watch as Doug drove away to earn his dance with Schumacher in the finals.

Tony jumped out to a sizable lead off the line in the final round and appeared to be pulling away until his engine came apart, leaving him coasting as Kalitta streaked to the win with a 3.779 elapsed time at 324 MPH to earn his 44th national event win.

I’d like to send a special congratulations to my good friend Kyle Schrader, who works on the Kalitta crew. I know he and his fellow crew members worked hard and I’m proud to see them taking home the win!