HOUSTON (April 27, 2016) - Kalitta Motorsports’ preview the NHRA SpringNationals at Royal Purple Raceway in Houston, Texas. This is the sixth race of 24 in the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello NHRA season.
Kalitta plans another Texas win
Last season, Doug Kalitta, driver of the Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster, came into Houston with a solid start to the season, but minus one key item: a win. Houston yielded the trophy. He was strong throughout the weekend and come race day made solid passes to defeat Troy Buff and Larry Dixon. An excellent pedal foot gave him the semi-final win over Spencer Massey, before Jim Oberhofer delivered a great tune-up to allow Kalitta to drive around Tony Schumacher for his 36th career win.
This season, Kalitta is off to an outstanding start. He is the only Top Fuel driver to rank among the top three in the point standings after every race this season. He is coming off his second final round appearance of the season in Charlotte and has claimed the fastest lap in three of the five events thus far. However, escaping Kalitta and his Mac Tools team is the first Wally of the season. He looks to go back to winner’s circle this weekend and repeat his success from just one season ago.
Charlotte saw Kalitta post five clean passes in just six attempts. He earned two bonus points in qualifying and then defeated drivers Smax Smith and Scott Palmer in the first quad and Steve Torrence and Tony Schumacher in the second to advance to the final, where the Mac Tools driver would get out quick with a sub .050 second reaction time before coming in third overall.
“It is great to go back to Texas, especially a place we have had so much recent success,” said Kalitta. “We had a solid showing in Charlotte and the Mac Tools team looks to take the next step into the Winner’s Circle this weekend.”
Kalitta has earned a total of two victories in Houston, picking up his first win from the pole in 2003. He owns two other top qualifiers, most recently in 2013.
Worsham focused on the end prize
Del Worsham, driver of the DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car, has earned two final round appearances in the first five Funny Car events, something that he replicated last season on his way to the title. In fact Worsham is a mere round behind his 2015 pace.
However, Worsham definitely wants to be back in the Winner’s Circle, and Houston would be a great place to earn that Wally. He is one of just two drivers to own Top Fuel and Funny Car wins and his second no.1 qualifying effort with Team Kalitta occurred here two seasons ago. However, the last time Worsham claimed a Houston Funny Car trophy was 2008, and that is a streak he would like to end this weekend.
The DHL team was stellar in Charlotte despite an early exit. Three consecutive solid passes on Saturday and Sunday gave them two bonus points, but a loss by a few inches in the first round has made Worsham pleased for the quick shot of redemption at the SpringNationals.
“The DHL Toyota Camry is just as solid as ever,” said Worsham. “Like early last season, we are getting beat in just some extremely close races. However, I am excited to get back on the track so quickly and have another shot at the race win. I definitely think we can get it done this weekend.”
After solid Charlotte effort, Todd excited for Houston event
J.R. Todd, driver of the SealMaster Top Fuel dragster, proved that three times might be the charm after this past weekend’s efforts in Charlotte.
Charlotte was the third event on the new SealMaster chassis and the best performance yet. Connie Kalitta and Rob Flynn tuned Todd to best run on Saturday in the Top Fuel class. His 3.743 second pass moved Todd from the 11th starting position to the second spot, his best start of the season. However, the tuning duo was not done yet, delivering Todd an even better run, a 3.736 second pass in his first round win over Terry McMillen and Chris Karamesines. His speed, 328.06 MPH, would rank as the quickest of the weekend in the class. After that success, Todd could not be more excited to be back on track so quickly.
Although they lost in the second round, Todd has nearly doubled his round win total from this point last season. He is four spots higher in the standings, and one round from joining his teammate among the top five in the 2016 points picture. His second win in Houston would clinch that and his second straight Traxxas Shootout appearance.
“I am looking forward to racing in consecutive weekends,” said Todd. “It keeps you in your groove and doesn't give you time to dwell on the previous event. Houston will always be special for me as it was the first race after Eric Medlen's accident and I was fortunate enough to win in 2007.”
This is the third SpringNationals for Todd with Kalitta Motorsports. In his first two starts, Todd has qualified among the top half of the field both times.
DeJoria looks for Sunday success after stellar Saturday in Charlotte
Alexis DeJoria, driver of the Tequila Patrón Toyota Camry Funny Car, was simply the car to beat in Saturday for the 4-Wide Nationals. DeJoria reset the track record and her personal best elapsed time twice and posted the best two runs of any Funny Car team on the track earning herself and the Patrón team the maximum amount of bonus points.
However, Sunday left her with an early loss. DeJoria, Tommy DeLago and the Patrón team are focused on keeping the momentum hot and giving DeJoria her first win in her adopted home state of Texas and her second of the the young NHRA season. At the last SpringNationals, DeJoria qualified fourth and defeated Bob Bode in the first round.
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CHARLOTTE (April 24, 2016) - Doug Kalitta, driver of the Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster, led the Kalitta contingent on Sunday earning another final round quad appearance.
Kalitta was stout throughout qualifying. Earning two bonus points to claim the fourth qualifying spot on Saturday, Jim Oberhofer had the Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster turned up and ready to go for raceday. Doug’s first quad meant tough competition with Clay Millican, Smax Smith and Scott Palmer. However, Doug was ready. His Mac Tools dragster got just nipped at the finish line by Clay Millican, but second place in the 4-Wides in the first two rounds is not a bad place to be.
Next up, Kalitta would face Millican again, but this time Tony Schumacher and Steve Torrence would be the competition. This time, Doug came on top. He left the starting line first with an outstanding .048 second light and reached the finish line first to advance to another 4-Wide Nationals final quad. Millican also joined him in advancing.
It was a marquee draw as the Top Fuel finals put the top four in points against each other: Brittany Force, Antron Brown, Kalitta and Millican. Kalitta was ready at the line again, but this time the Mac Tools machine would fall to tire smoke yielding the second career win to Brittany Force.
“Another solid weekend for the Mac Tools Toyota team, but we want to win,” said Kalitta. “I am excited to head back to Houston, where we won last year, and see if we can do it again.”
Kalitta retained his third place in the point standings leaving Charlotte. He is the only Top Fuel driver to hold a spot in the top three after every race this season.
J.R. Todd, driver of the SealMaster Top Fuel dragster, started Sunday morning confident. The SealMaster team laid down the best run of Saturday to give him his best start of the season, a second. The 3.74 second run was in conditions similar to those in raceday, so Todd was feeling good going into the only 4-Wide event of the season.
Todd’s day started with the SealMaster Track Walk as he walked the track with his NASCAR ThorSport Racing teammates, Rico Abreu, Matt Crafton, Cameron Hayley and Ben Rhodes. But then it became race-time and Todd was prepared. Easily delivering the best run of the quad, Todd took it stripe-to-stripe to deliver a first round win over Richie Crampton, the Greek and Terry McMillen. Crampton advanced as well and joined him in the second round quad. Todd also claimed top speed at 328.06 mph. This is the fourth time in five events that a Kalitta Top Fueler has earned top speed.
The second round draw would not be easy with points leader Brittany Force and Las Vegas’ winner Antron Brown with them. Todd again was ready and delivered the best light of the entire quad. However, shortly after, Todd’s SealMaster ride fell to tire smoke yielding the final quad spots to Force and Brown.
“Good start to the day, but definitely a much quicker end then the SealMaster team would have liked,” said Todd. “It was great to have the NASCAR guys to the track today and we wanted to put an all day show on for them. But we will regroup get this SealMaster ride ready and make the drive to Texas.”
Todd claimed the sixth points position leaving Charlotte.
Del Worsham, driver of the DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car, came into Charlotte as part of history. The defending winner of the fall race at zMax Dragway, Worsham was the only driver the has titles in both Top Fuel and Funny Car at the iconic facility.
However, Worsham does not have a Funny Car 4-Wide race win, and looked early to avenge last season’s close runner-up finish. Worsham’s crew chiefs Jon Oberhofer and Nicky Boninfante were solid on Saturday with two consecutive three second runs allowing Worsham to slot in the field among the top five starters.
Every Funny Car draw proved to be tough and Worsham’s was no different. Coming to the line with Courtney Force, Cruz Pedregon and John Hale, Worsham was ready. He was solid off the tree and just missed defeating Pedregon, coming up short by mere inches.
“Not what we were hoping for today with this DHL Toyota Camry,” said Worsham. “However, we have another opportunity in just a couple days in Houston and we look to capitalize there.
Worsham retained a top ten points placement leaving the 4-Wide Nationals.
Alexis DeJoria, driver of the Tequila Patrón Toyota Camry Funny Car, moved to Charlotte on a high after the Las Vegas triumph and did not slow down on Friday and Saturday. Tommy DeLago and the entire Patrón team posted three straight outstanding passes on Friday and Saturday. Her last two runs reset the track record both times and delivered DeJoria her first pole since the World Finals in 2014. It was her second at Charlotte and fourth overall.
However, even drawing the first spot did not yield and easy draw as she faced Tim Wilkerson, Robert Hight and Jeff Diehl. DeJoria was ready at the tree earning the best light of her entire quad, but the Camry fell to smoke instantly yielding the round wins to Diehl and Wilkerson.
DeJoria leaves zMax in the eighth position in the standings.
Through five events on the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season, Team Kalitta owns one win, five final round appearances and two no.1 qualifiers. NHRA is going back-to-back and head to Texas for the NHRA Spring Nationals in Houston.
Doug Kalitta – Driver of the Mac Tools Top Fuel Dragster: No. 4 Qualifier (3.752 sec., 325.92 mph) E1: Kalitta defeated Smith and Palmer - 3.755 sec., 326.56 mph to 4.197 sec., 276.07 mph and no run
E2: Kalitta defeated Torrence and Schumacher - 3.777 sec., 325.92 mph to 6.694 sec., 96.29 mph and 9.205 sec., 76.48 mph
Final: Kalitta defeated by Force - 4.792 sec., 161.34 mph to 3.764 sec., 319.98 mph
J.R. Todd – Driver of the SealMaster Top Fuel Dragster: No. 2 Qualifier (3.743 sec., 324.28 mph) E1: Todd defeated Karamesines and McMillen - 3.736 sec., 328.06 mph to 4.074 sec., 297.02 mph and 3.816 sec., 316.52 mph
E2: Todd defeated by Force and Brown - 9.531 sec., 81.70 mph to 3.747 sec., 321.88 mph and 5.779 sec., 210.67 mph
Del Worsham – Driver of the DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car: No. 5 Qualifier (3.963 sec., 317.57 mph) E1: Worsham defeated by C.Force and Pedregon - 3.981 sec., 317.49 mph to 3.979 sec., 320.97 mph and 4.003 sec., 309.91 mph
Alexis DeJoria – Driver of the Tequila Patrón Toyota Camry Funny Car: No. 1 Qualifier (3.934 sec., 321.04 mph) **CAREER BEST ELAPSED TIME** E1: DeJoria defeated by Wilkerson and Diehl - 6.874 sec., 27.86 mph to 3.934 sec., 322.34 mph and 5.359 sec., 210.47 mph
Mello Yello Championship Points: Top Fuel (Unofficial) 1. Brittany Force (428) 2. Antron Brown (365) 3. Doug Kalitta (344) 4. Clay Millican (318) 5. Steve Torrence (310) 6. J.R. Todd (289) 7. Tony Schumacher (242) 8. Terry McMillen (242) 9. Richie Crampton (240) 10. Leah Pritchett (220)
Funny Car (Unofficial) 1. Robert Hight (369) 2. Ron Capps (361) 3. John Force (352) 4. Tim Wilkerson (334) 5. Courtney Force (322) 6. Del Worsham (318) 7. Jack Beckman (307) 8. Alexis DeJoria (277) 9. Chad Head (270) 10. Cruz Pedregon (258)
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Top Fuel (Unofficial)
1. Brittany Force (428)
2. Antron Brown (365)
3. Doug Kalitta (344)
4. Clay Millican (318)
5. Steve Torrence (310)
6. J.R. Todd (289)
7. Tony Schumacher (242)
8. Terry McMillen (242)
9. Richie Crampton (240)
10. Leah Pritchett (220)
Funny Car (Unofficial)
1. Robert Hight (369)
2. Ron Capps (361)
3. John Force (352)
4. Tim Wilkerson (334)
5. Courtney Force (322)
6. Del Worsham (318)
7. Jack Beckman (307)
8. Alexis DeJoria (277)
9. Chad Head (270)
10. Cruz Pedregon (258)