Doug Kalitta won the quickest side-by-side, Top Fuel dead heat drag race Sunday in drag racing history at the NHRA Summit Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway.
Point leader Doug Kalitta beat teammate J.R. Todd in a match, determined by the Compulink timing system, to be less than one-ten-thousandth of a second or a half-inch at the finish line. Both drivers were racing at more than 320-miles per hour when they crossed the finish line.
The historic drag race was a fitting conclusion for an event which enjoyed three days of perfect weather and capacity crowds.
Joining Kalitta in the Winner’s Circle were Matt Hagan [Funny Car], Jason Line [Pro Stock] and Eddie Krawiec [Pro Stock Motorcycle].
The NHRA’s timing system measures drag races down to ten-thousandths of a second, and only once in professional drag racing history has a race been this close when Pro Stock racer Mike Edwards beat Allen Johnson for the 2012 NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals crown.
Kalitta was .021 quicker on the starting line, but Todd was .021 quicker to the finish line in the 3.801, 323.19 to 3.780, 320.66 decision.
Kalitta admitted the race was so close he didn’t even know he’d won at the finish line.
"NHRA has been staging drag races for a long time, so it is hard to grasp the idea this was the closest race in Top Fuel history," said Kalitta. "I honestly didn’t think I had won when I got my car stopped. When JR came blowing by me at the finish line, I looked over and didn’t see my win light, so I figured I had lost. Once I turned off the track, to learn I had won was a huge relief."
The victory marked the second consecutive title for the Mac Tools-sponsored driver and his third career Atlanta Dragway win.
In Funny Car, Hagan broke a 19-race dry spell as he piloted his Rocky Boots entry to career win No. 19 by beating teammate Jack Beckman, who lost traction and smoked the tires in the final round.
Hagan’s winning elapsed time was 3.965-seconds at 314.90 on a race where his car caught fire in the shutdown area.
"These cars are so humbling, and just when you think you have them figured out, they will put you in your place," said Hagan. "We dug ourselves a big hole at the begging of the season by trying a new chassis and new parts. We went back to our old car, and we seem to have a handle on it."
Pro Stock continues to be a same story, different day scenario as KB Racing dominated the competition for the seventh stop on the 24-race NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series tour.
Line, who has been in all seven 2016 final rounds, scored a sentimental victory as he won his sponsor Summit’s race over teammate Greg Anderson. He also did so on a holeshot by grabbing the win in a 6.611 to 6.593 race.
"This has been a crazy season," Line admitted. "If you had asked me early in the season, when we were whining about the rule changes, that this would be the result we’d have."
Krawiec, just like Line, has been in the final round of every drag race this season. The Pro Stock Motorcycle division staged its third of 16-scheduled races with Krawiec snagging victory with a 6.824 elapsed time at 196.56 miles per hour by beating Jerry Savoie.
"Atlanta has always treated me well," Krawiec explained. "My first win was here. I remained in the groove and had confidence. We got off on a good foot but struggled a little afterward. We were able to figure out what the bike needed with more runs. It was an exciting, fun weekend for me."
Krawiec’s 33 wins tied him in career wins with the late John Myers.
Bobby Bennett is the Publisher/Editor of CompetitionPlus.com, a leading independent online drag racing magazine, since 1999. For the latest in dragster news worldwide, visit www.competitionplus.com or follow on Twitter @competitionplus