Kalitta Racing teammates Doug Kalitta and J.R. Todd tangled in what is being called the closest Top Fuel drag race in history in the final round of the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals at the Atlanta Dragway on Sunday afternoon, and while Kalitta was ultimately the victor, the race was, by nearly every measure, a mathematical dead-heat.
Kalitta, who earned his first win of the season just one race ago in Houston, gained a .021-second advantage out of the gate on Todd, but was .021-seconds slower to the 1,000-foot timing block — 3.801 to a 3.780. The numbers, out to the fourth digit (which traditionally aren’t shown on television or in online results), just happened to align in historic fashion, providing a margin of victory, per the Compulink timing systems’ standard display, of .0000-seconds.
Because the timing system is able to calculate out beyond the fourth digit, a winner can be determined in races like these — as rare as they are — where less than an inch decides a winner amongst a pair of cars traveling at more than 320 mph; which it did for Kalitta, who claimed his second win in a row.
According to NHRA statistical Lewis Bloom, this is the first dead-heat by a pair of nitro cars on record, and is, according to his stats, just the third to occur in the professional classes in NHRA history, joining two different Pro Stock contests, in 2001 and 2012.