The wait is over for veteran Top Fuel driver Doug Kalitta.

Kalitta finally captured his milestone 50th career Wally on Monday when he won the rain-delayed Pep Boys Nationals in Reading, Pa.

Kalitta snared the coveted victory with a 3.662-second time at 336.99 mph to defeat Steve Torrence’s 3.695-second lap at 332.34 mph at Maple Grove Raceway.

“It was a huge day for us,” said Kalitta, whose mph in the finals was the quickest of his car. “We've been trying, obviously it's been a while since we won, so it was, I don't know why it took so long. But no, it was obviously a great effort with my team and the car. It was running in the 60s all weekend or through race day and (Sunday) and (Monday). So, just real proud of the effort they put forth to have my car running like it did. And obviously super happy to be here with the Koretskys in this facility. I've always loved running here, so definitely a great place to get to 50.”

Kalitta’s last national event win was St. Louis in the fall of 2020. Since then, he has been runner- up twice (both this season, in Denver and Seattle).

During his victory march Monday, Kalitta ousted Josh Hart, Shawn Langdon, and Leah Pruett just before the rain delay Sunday. Kalitta answered the bell Monday in his Mac Tools Toyota, edging Torrence in the finals. Ironically, when he won in 2020 in St. Louis it was against Torrence.

Kalitta was a case study in consistency in eliminations as his elapsed times were 3.658, 3.692, 3.684 and 3.662 seconds in the final round – all within .034 seconds.

“I can tell you my guys, they've been working their tails off on this thing and (crew chiefs) Alan (Johnson) and Brian (Husen) were just trying their hardest to get this monkey off our back to get a final round win. Hopefully now we can just let all that stress of trying to get to the winner's circle behind us and settle in and obviously concentrate on these next five races to see what we can do for sure.”





Kalitta jumped three spots in the points standings to third place with five races left in the Countdown to the Championship. He trails leader Torrence by 26 points and second-place Justin Ashley by 19 points.

Kalitta wasn’t positive where Wally No. 50 would go, but he had an idea.

“The Mac Tools distributors are probably the guys that deserve it the most. They've been pushing me hard and supporting me, obviously not pushing me hard but just supporting us like crazy,” Kalitta said. “And obviously everybody with Toyota with the R&D stuff they do and out here helping my team and all the rest of the teams they're supporting. So yeah, they've been a big advocate for me as well. So just really couldn't do it with all those guys behind us and obviously... I was talking to Connie before I came up here and definitely couldn't do it without his support. He's definitely a pioneer out here and he comes to all these races and obviously is still enjoying it. So definitely my hero when it comes to racing, drag racing out here. It's cool to see how excited he is and how excited he was for me to get this win today. So that was definitely one of the highlights of the day.”

The crazy thing about Kalitta’s Reading victory was it came in a back-up car. On Saturday during qualifying, following a 3.748-second run at 332.10 mph, the right-rear tire exploded. It caused severe damage to the dragster, which had a canopy on it. The back-up dragster had no canopy.





“Well, the canopy car that we had, we've kind of tore that thing up, so we're going to stick with this car here, which is definitely not going to hurt my feelings,” Kalitta said. “Even if that thing wasn't hurt, I think we probably would still run this car. But, no, we'll just keep our heads down and obviously just keep trying to hit the 60s and hit the tree as hard as we can and definitely hoping to have a good run at the championship this year and looks like we have a good opportunity for sure.”

Although Kalitta was in a back-up dragster he wasn’t shocked with its results.

“Well, Alan (Johnson) said he was going to make that other car probably run just the same, so it's just a crazy coincidence we drug that thing out of the trailer and it's doing what it's doing, but this car here is probably about 30 pounds lighter so then I'm sure that doesn't help or it doesn't hurt anything. I'm just glad Alan's happy and Brian's happy and my guys are all, this will be a big momentum opportunity for us going into the next five. So, we'll definitely carry as far as we can.

“I knew our time was coming. It was just real fortunate, for sure, to maybe just have the one run (Monday) and save everything for the last run there. But they did well. The car ran probably faster than it's ever run, close to 337. This really just shows the talent and the fortitude of my guys to be able to bounce back with a spare car. They've had that thing ready. So, I'm super proud of those guys. And that's probably the biggest thing is a good old thrash every once in a while and that's kind of what we had.”