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Kalitta Motorsports News

JR ToddYPSILANTI, Mich., (April 3, 2014) – Kalitta Motorsports, one of the largest and most successful teams in NHRA (National Hot Rod Association) professional drag racing history, announced today that six-time NHRA Top Fuel event champion J.R. Todd will assume the duties of full-time driver of the Optima Batteries Top Fuel dragster beginning at the next event of the 2014 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, the 5th Annual NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway in Charlotte, N.C., April 11-13.

Team owner, crew chief and drag racing icon Connie “the Bounty Hunter” Kalitta made the decision to change direction with his dragster by tapping Todd to drive his Top Fueler during the previous event, the 15th annual SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals in Las Vegas.

Todd, a 32 year-old resident of Lawrenceburg, Ind., has accumulated six wins in eight final round appearances in NHRA Top Fuel competition. He began his straight-line racing career in the NHRA Jr. Drag Racing League, where he competed from 1993 until 1998. After serving as a crew member on a Nitro Funny Car team from 2003 until 2005, Todd got his chance to drive at NHRA’s highest level, Top Fuel, in 2006. He earned his first career Top Fuel trophy in 2006 in Denver to become the first African-American to win an NHRA Top Fuel race. His most recent victory in NHRA Top Fuel was in Dallas in 2008.

 “To say I’m excited to be a part of Kalitta Motorsports is a huge understatement,” Todd, who most recently drove a Top Fueler for Bob Vandergriff Racing in Gainesville, Fla. last month, said. “Driving for Connie Kalitta is a great honor. Connie’s commitment to success is one of the big reasons he’s considered one of the best owners to work for. He’s been drag racing for over 50 years so I’m sure I will learn a lot from him, and hopefully drive his car to a lot of winner’s circles for Optima Batteries.”

The Optima Batteries Top Fuel dragster was previously driven by David Grubnic. Native Australian Grubnic, a 51-year old resident of Bozeman, Mont., will remain with Kalitta Motorsports as a technical consultant.

“We knew we were eventually going to move Grubnic into a more technical role,” Jim Oberhofer, vice president of operations for Kalitta Motorsports, said. “It just so happened that the timing was right for Connie and the team to do that now. We are very confident that J.R. will represent our team, Optima Batteries, and all of our sponsors to the utmost of his ability. We’re extremely excited to see what he can do driving for Kalitta Motorsports.”

DeJoria Victorious in Vegas; Top Fuel Points Leader Kalitta Races to Runner-Up

LAS VEGAS, (March 31, 2014) – Kalitta Motorsports’ impressive start to the 2014 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series gained even more momentum Sunday in Las Vegas as the four-car, nitro-fueled contingent picked up its third national event win in the first four events of the season and brought its total to five final round appearances at the 15th annual SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Alexis DeJoria, driver of the 10,000-horsepower Kalitta Motorsports Patrón XO Cafe Toyota Camry, defeated Matt Hagan, Tony Pedregon, Cruz Pedregon, and Robert Hight on her way to claim the title of Vegas Funny Car victor. DeJoria and the Patrón XO Café team posted the quickest run of eliminations in a dominating final round performance against Hight - 4.026 seconds, 309.98 mph to 4.083 seconds, 315.42 mph.

“It was definitely a great day at the office to get the win for the Patrón team here in Vegas where they are headquartered. It was huge,” DeJoria said. “We have been in a few semifinals but never made it past that point here at this track. Today we focused on taking it one round at a time, and with each round win, I was just hoping and hoping. And then when we just kept going rounds, I kept my head down and tried to stay focused. Tommy (DeLago, crew chief) and my crew gave me a great car today, and it felt amazing for our team to pick up our second win of our career.”

DeJoria and the Patrón XO Cafe team currently sit in the No. 3 spot in the NHRA Mello Yello Funny Car championship points (299).

Mello Yello Top Fuel championship points leader Doug Kalitta, driver of the “Big Red” Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster, continued his torrid pace to open the 2014 season with his third final round appearance, the 71st of his 17-year Top Fuel career.

Kalitta, the No. 2 qualifier for eliminations, defeated Steve Faria, Bob Vandergriff, and Steve Torrence en route to the final round. In the “money” round, Kalitta and his opponent Tony Schumacher put on a dazzling side-by-side race, but Kalitta barely crossed the finish line second to give Schumacher the win - 3.814 sec., 321.12 mph to 3.797 sec., 326.16 mph. The margin of victory at the stripe was a scant 0.012 seconds.

Kalitta won the event prior to Las Vegas in Gainesville, Fla. He has 34 NHRA national event wins. Kalitta increased his points lead to 73 over second place holder Antron Brown with his runner-up in Vegas.

Del Worsham, driver of the DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car and No. 4 qualifier, was upset in the opening round of Sunday’s Funny Car eliminations by Tony Pedregon. Worsham now sits in fifth place in Mello Yello Funny Car championship points.

Saturday in Las Vegas, team owner and crew chief Connie Kalitta made a decision to change direction with his dragster by tapping J.R. Todd to drive the special edition Bounty Hunter Top Fuel dragster for the remainder of the event. The dragster was previously driven by David Grubnic.

Todd, a 32 year-old resident of Lawrenceburg, Ind., qualified in the No. 11 spot for Sunday’s eliminations, where he raced to the quarterfinals.

Doug Kalitta – Driver of the Mac Tools Top Fuel Dragster:

Q1: 4.605 seconds, 166.13 mph
Q2: 3.797 seconds, 319.75 mph (One bonus point for third quickest of the session)
Q3: 3.802 seconds, 323.19 mph (Three bonus points for quickest of the session)
Q4: 3.775 seconds, 321.88 mph (Two bonus points for second quickest of the session)

No. 2 Qualifier

Del Worsham – Driver of the DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car:

Q1: 4.210 seconds, 296.63 mph
Q2: 4.069 seconds, 311.99 mph (Two bonus points for second quickest of the session)
Q3: 4.064 seconds, 313.12 mph
Q4: 4.041 seconds, 315.71 mph

No. 4 Qualifier

Alexis DeJoria – Driver of the Patrón XO Café Toyota Camry Funny Car:

Q1: 4.185 seconds, 303.64 mph
Q2: 4.102 seconds, 308.64 mph
Q3: 4.090 seconds, 309.84 mph
Q4: 4.843 seconds, 166.46 mph

No. 12 Qualifier

J.R. Todd – Driver of the Bounty Hunter Special Top Fuel Dragster:

Q3: 3.896 seconds, 310.34 mph
Q4: 3.841 seconds, 310.20 mph

No. 11 Qualifier

THE COMPETITION:

Top Fuel

2) Kalitta v. 15) Steve Faria
11) Todd v. 6) Richie Crampton

Funny Car

4) Worsham v. 13) Tony Pedregon
12) DeJoria v. 5) Matt Hagan

LAS VEGAS, (March 29, 2014) - Effective immediately, team owner Connie Kalitta of Kalitta Motorsports has made a decision to change direction with his dragster by tapping J.R. Todd to drive the special edition Bounty Hunter Top Fuel dragster for the remainder of the 15th annual SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Las Vegas. Todd will drive the Connie “the Bounty Hunter” Kalitta-tuned Top Fueler beginning with third qualifying session scheduled for 1:30 p.m. (PT) Saturday.

The future of this Top Fuel program will be determined at a later date. No further information about the driver change is available at this time.

Todd, a 32 year-old resident of Lawrenceburg, Ind., has accumulated six wins in eight final round appearances in NHRA Top Fuel competition.

Del Worsham – Driver of the DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car:

  • Q1: 4.210 seconds, 296.63 mph
  • Q2: 4.069 seconds, 311.99 mph (Two bonus points for second quickest of the session.
  • Provisional No. 2 Qualifier

Doug Kalitta – Driver of the Mac Tools Top Fuel Dragster:

  • Q1: 4.605 seconds, 166.13 mph
  • Q2: 3.797 seconds, 319.75 mph (One bonus point for third quickest of the session)
  • Provisional No. 3 Qualifier

Alexis DeJoria – Driver of the Patrón XO Café Toyota Camry Funny Car:

  • Q1: 4.185 seconds, 303.64 mph
  • Q2: 4.102 seconds, 308.64 mph
  • Provisional No. 7 Qualifier

David Grubnic – Driver of the Bounty Hunter Special Top Fuel Dragster:

  • Q1: 5.102 seconds, 134.70 mph
  • Q2: No Time (Broke)
  • Provisional No. 15 Qualifier

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Mello Yello Championship Points

Top Fuel (Unofficial)

1. Steve Torrence (2592)
2. Clay Millican (2423)
3. Tony Schumacher (2382)
4. Leah Pritchett (2297)
5. Antron Brown (2253)
6. Brittany Force (2243)
7. Mike Salinas (2228)
8. Doug Kalitta (2225)
9. Terry McMillen (2221)
10. Scott Palmer (2149)

Funny Car (Unofficial)

1. Robert Hight (2445)
2. J.R. Todd (2434)
3. Ron Capps (2336)
4. Tim Wilkerson (2334)
5. Tommy Johnson Jr. (2296)
6. Courtney Force (2264)
7. Matt Hagan (2241)
8. Jack Beckman (2229)
9. John Force (2204)
10. Shawn Langdon (2152)

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