Defending his inaugural NHRA world championship is going quite well for Doug Kalitta in 2024.

The veteran Top Fuel driver at Kalitta Motorsports won his third race of the season when he took home the title at the PlayNHRA Virginia Nationals in Richmond, Va., on Sunday.

Kalitta, pilot of the Mac Tools dragster, clocked a 3.752-second elapsed time at 333.41 mph to defeat his teammate Shawn Langdon, who smoked the tires off the starting line and slowed to a 6.148-second run.

“It was good,” Kalitta said about his victorious Sunday. “Brian (Husen, Langdon’s Crew Chief) is obviously doing a great job with Shawn on the Kalitta Air Careers car. I was saying before the final round that it’s so nice that we’ve finally given Shawn a car to run and be competitive with. He’s one of the best drivers out here, and I’m just super proud of Connie (team owner Connie Kalitta), Chad (general manager Chad Head) and everybody that’s helped us get where we are. We’ve been able to step up, not only Shawn’s program but also with what I have going on and with (J.R. Todd's Funny Car team). I’m pretty sure Connie’s happy with how it went today. I’m sure he’s proud of what we accomplished.

Kalitta's 55th NHRA Top Fuel victory goes with those attained earlier this year in the Four Wide Nationals in Las Vegas and the New England Nationals in Epping, N.H.

“It has been interesting this year with the performance of my car and maybe I’m overthinking it a little bit,” Kalitta said. “I’m just working as hard as I can to do a good job in this thing. You would love to have .050 lights every round or whatever, but I have been fortunate my car with its performance has got me out of a couple of jams.  It is a crazy balance you try to keep to getting these win lights out here. We are all just trying to do our best.”

This also was Kalitta's second career win in Richmond. He  first accomplished the feat in 2007 when he defeated Melanie Troxel in the finals.

Kalitta and Langdon have won five of the nine races on the schedule so far. Kalitta improved his elimination-round record this season to 19-6.

Kalitta and Langdon were dominant at Virginia Motorsports Park this past weekend as Langdon was No. 1 qualifier with his 3.872-second elapsed time at 319.82 mph in Q3. Kalitta was No. 2 at 3.883 seconds at 318.69 mph.

“Shawn and his guys are always tough. It’s kind of like the rivalry at the shop because both cars use the same area so it’s a little bit of bragging rights there,” Kalitta said. “Hats off to all my guys on this Mac Tools, Toyota, Revchem car. It was a great weekend for all of us.”

On Sunday, Kalitta beat Cameron Ferre, Josh Hart, Tony Stewart and Langdon.

“These crew chiefs out here, it is incredible (what they do) and certainly really fortunate to have Alan (Johnson) on my car,” Kalitta said. “He has proven time and time again that he can figure out different conditions. It seemed like the first year (in 2022) when he was on my car we changed a lot of stuff around. I think right now, with what we picked up on at the middle of last year and carried into this year, everybody is doing their job. The consistency of putting that thing together is good with the guys. They are all having fun. Mac Savage is keeping an eye on everybody, and it is just a big team effort. It takes everybody and a good leader like Alan and good car owner like Connie Kalitta.”

Up next for Kalitta is the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals on June 28-30 in Norwalk, Ohio. Kalitta has one career win in Norwalk in 2015, defeating Antron Brown in the final round.

“Everybody is working their tail off to try and make things happen out here and you just have to stay confident with what you do and stick with your routine,” Kalitta said. “Sometimes you are just trying too hard, and it is just live and learn -- and certainly this weekend here going rounds and getting the win here and the confidence for me and the team is great, and we will be able to hit the ground running in Norwalk.”

Kalitta won a career-best five races in 2005 and 2006. A year ago, he won three races -- all in the final six races of the season in the Countdown to the Championship, which he won.

“It has been good,” said Kalitta, who has won six of the past 15 NHRA national events. “It’s a hellof an opportunity. We have worked to get to this point for a long time and really to see it come together. It seems like just getting down the track is half the battle most of the days and that has been key with my tune-up and the performance of that thing. Alan just seems to have a lot of tricks up his sleeve when it comes from moving from these different conditions. What we had (Sunday) was a big swing from normal.”