2016 NHRA season in review: Top Fuel driver Doug Kalitta

(Photos courtesy NHRA)
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Over the next three-plus weeks, MotorSportsTalk will feature season-ending reviews of the top drivers of the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season.

Each day, we’ll have one in-depth review of a driver that finished in the top-five in each of the four professional classes (Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle), as well as a compendium of select other drivers that did not finish in the top-five.

The list of drivers we’ve already posted is below. Today, we feature Top Fuel driver Doug Kalitta.

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Driver: Doug Kalitta

Age: 52

Hometown: Ann Arbor, Michigan

Team: Kalitta Motorsports

Sponsor/car: Mac Tools dragster

Crew chief: Jim Oberhofer

2016 season finish: Second in Top Fuel.

2016 season statistics: 24 races, 4 wins, 2 runner-up, 7 semifinals, 8 quarterfinals. No. 1 qualifier four times. Round-by-round record: 44 wins, 20 losses.

Career statistics: 441 races, 42 wins, 45 runner-up, 76 semifinals, 135 quarterfinals. No. 1 qualifier 47 times. Round-by-round record: 589 wins, 392 losses. 7 DNQ.

What went right in 2016: Kalitta had a great season, finishing second in the Top Fuel standings for the third time in his career. … For much of the season, it looked like Kalitta may go on to win his first Top Fuel championship, but a late surge by Antron Brown kept Kalitta from achieving his goal. … Still, the former sprint car driver reached the final round in one-fourth of the 24 races (four wins, two runner-up). Was part of major drag racing history, defeating teammate J.R. Todd in the closest Top Fuel final round finish — .000 seconds — at Southern Nationals in Commerce, Ga.

What went wrong in 2016: Kalitta’s championship hopes faded when he suffered three consecutive second-round losses in the Countdown to the Championship (St. Louis, Reading and Dallas). … Antron Brown clinched the championship in the second-to-last race (Las Vegas). If he had not, Kalitta may have had a last-gasp chance in the season finale, which he ultimately won, defeating teammate J.R. Todd. … Kalitta had three first-round exits in the first 18 races.

What to look for in 2017: With the success he had in 2016, Kalitta will have good momentum coming into the new season. He’ll have a new teammate (Troy Coughlin), who will replace J.R. Todd (moves to replace the departed Del Worsham in one of the Kalitta Motorsports’ Funny Car entries). Kalitta has the team, resources and talent to finally win the championship, but drivers like two-time defending champ (and three-time champion overall) Antron Brown and eight-time champ Tony Schumacher will be among the top obstacles for Kalitta to overcome. But the nephew of team owner Connie Kalitta has one thing to offer inspiration: good friend Ron Capps had to wait for more than 20 years and endure four season runner-up finishes before he finally won his first championship in 2016.

Season reviews already posted:

— Antron Brown (12/12)

— Ron Capps (12/13)

— Jason Line (12/14)

Jerry Savoie (12/15)

Doug Kalitta (12/16)

Tommy Johnson Jr. (12/17)

Greg Anderson (12/18)

Eddie Krawiec (12/19)

Steve Torrence (12/20)

— Matt Hagan (12/21)

— Shane Gray (12/22)

— Andrew Hines (12/23)

— J.R. Todd (12/24)

— John Force (12/25)

— Bo Butner (12/26)

— Angelle Sampey (12/27)

Follow @JerryBonkowski

IndyCar releases schedule for 2023 season

IndyCar schedule 2023
Douglas Stringer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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The NTT IndyCar Series’ 2023 schedule will feature the same number of races and tracks as this season with some minor reshuffling of dates.

IndyCar will open the 2023 season March 5 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida, and will conclude Sept. 10 at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California. The 107th Indy 500 will take place May 28 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The 17-race schedule will conclude with a stretch of eight races in the final nine weeks.

“The NTT IndyCar Series is on an impactful upward trajectory, making progress at a pace that befits our thrilling style of competition,” Penske Entertainment Corp. president and CEO Mark Miles said in a release. “The 2023 season provides an opportunity to further build on this trend, bringing our sport and its stars to more markets and households and reaching new consumers across the globe.”

There will be 15 events on NBC: 13 races (including six of the final seven) plus Indy 500 qualifying May 20-21. There also are three races on USA Network and the Toronto race exclusively on Peacock. All races on NBC and USA also will have live simulstreams on Peacock.

In partnership with NBC Sports, the 2022 IndyCar season was the most-watched in six years and the most-watched across NBC Sports on record. The 2022 season also was the most streamed season on record.

“We’re very excited for our 2023 NTT IndyCar Series schedule and to build on this past season’s viewership milestones,” NBC Sports vice president of programming Mike Perman said in a release. “In providing comprehensive coverage across NBC, Peacock and USA Network, NBC Sports is once again looking forward to telling the stories of these world-class drivers and this compelling series.”

Notable elements on the 2023 schedule:

–There will be the same balance of seven road course races, five street courses and five ovals.

–St. Pete will be the season opener for the 13th time.

–The Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix will move from Belle Isle to the streets of downtown.

–The NASCAR doubleheader weekend at the IMS road course will shift to mid-August.

–The World Wide Technology Raceway event will move from Saturday to Sunday.

Start times for the 2023 events will be announced at a later date.

Here’s the 2023 IndyCar schedule:


Date Race/Track Network/Platform
Sun., March 5 Streets of St. Petersburg NBC, Peacock
Sun., April 2 Texas Motor Speedway NBC, Peacock
Sun., April 16 Streets of Long Beach NBC, Peacock
Sun., April 30 Barber Motorsports Park NBC, Peacock
Sat., May 13 Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Road Course) NBC, Peacock
Sun., May 28 The 107th Indianapolis 500 NBC, Peacock
Sun., June 4 Streets of Detroit NBC, Peacock
Sun., June 18 Road America USA Network, Peacock
Sun., July 2 Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course USA Network, Peacock
Sun., July 16 Streets of Toronto Peacock
Sat., July 22 Iowa Speedway – Race 1 NBC, Peacock
Sun., July 23 Iowa Speedway – Race 2 NBC, Peacock
Sun., Aug. 6 Streets of Nashville NBC, Peacock
Sat., Aug. 12 Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Road Course) USA Network, Peacock
Sun., Aug. 27 World Wide Technology Raceway NBC, Peacock
Sun., Sept. 3 Portland International Raceway NBC, Peacock
Sun., Sept. 10 WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca NBC, Peacock

*dates and networks/platforms are subject to change