CHANDLER, Ariz. (February 28, 2016) - Doug Kalitta, driver of the Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster, hit a milestone this weekend at the CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals and took over the points lead for the first time since 2014.
Kalitta was outstanding throughout qualifying. He earned nine bonus points as the quickest machine in three of the four sessions. The first qualifying pass set the tone for Kalitta. His 3.771 second run was two hundredths better than his nearest competitor. Then Saturday hit, and the Jim Oberhofer and Troy Fasching led team was two-for-two. In the first session of the day, he blazed the track in 3.747, and then bettered that in the final pair of the day with a 3.741 second run. Those passes gave Kalitta his 44th career no.1 qualifier. It was his third in the last four seasons and fourth overall at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park. His qualifying average in the last four CARQUEST Nats is an incredible 1.25.
With only 15 Top Fuel machines on the property, Kalitta earned a round 1 bye for the second time of his career. However, he was not willing to just make a clean run. Jim Oberhofer tuned the Mac Tools machine up to a 3.716 second pass, bettering his no.1 qualifying effort by three hundredths and resetting the Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park elapsed time record.
The second round foe was Dave Connolly. Kalitta was ready. With the best reaction time of the class, he laid down the best run of the session for the fifth time in six passes this weekend with his 3.770 second pass. That run allowed Kalitta to hit a milestone: his 550th career round win. That ranks twelfth all-time amongst all NHRA pro drivers and third overall exclusively in the Top Fuel class.
Semi-finals were next and his opponent would be Brittany Force. Kalitta left on Force and held the lead to the final moment, when she was able to sneak around by three thousandths of a second.
“We had a great Mac Tools machine today,” said Kalitta. “I am excited that we have started the season this strong and I cannot tell you how excited I am to race in Gainesville in a couple weeks.”
Kalitta leaves with the points lead in the NHRA Top Fuel class.
Del Worsham, driver of the DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car, was ready to get to Phoenix an avenge his final round loss in Pomona.
Worsham’s DHL team, led by Nicky Boninfante and Jon Oberhofer, were ready. In the first attempt down the track, Worsham laid down the second best pass of the session earning two bonus points. Worsham continued to be strong on Saturday picking up another bonus point in the last run of the weekend and earning the fifth qualifying spot for the second consecutive event.
In an intriguing first round pair, Worsham faced the car he owns, this week driven by Jim Campbell. Worsham picked up the early advantage at the tree and continued to extend that down the track securing the round win. His next opponent would be fellow California native Robert Hight. Hight and Worsham were close until the DHL flopper began to smoke the tires which allowed Hight to advance to the semi-finals.
“Not the way we were looking to end the weekend with this DHL Toyota Camry,” said Worsham. “We didn't have the consistency that we have come to know with this car, so we will take these two weeks and work to achieve that again for the Gatornationals.”
Worsham is among the top five drivers for the second consecutive event leaving Arizona.
J.R. Todd, driver of the SealMaster Top Fuel dragster, moved to Phoenix pleased with his Pomona performance. Despite a bottom half qualifying effort, Todd used his clutch foot to earn his first round win of the season versus Brittany Force, before advancing to the first semi-finals on FOX by defeating Terry McMillen in round two.
Todd saw improvement throughout qualifying, never falling out of the top half in qualifying through the four runs on Friday and Saturday. The last three runs were especially consistent each falling between 3.78 and 3.81 seconds. He earned the seventh starting spot and a first round pairing with Leah Pritchett.
Todd and Pritchett were close leaving the tree, but Todd’s SealMaster ride had the advantage by the time they passed the Christmas Tree and was continuing to extend his advantage before the rear tires began hazing. Todd was still ahead at the eighth mile, but Pritchett was able to get back around by the time he crossed the stripe.
“We are continuing to make progress on the SealMaster dragster, but to lose in the first round is a disappointment,” said Todd. “I am proud of my team and the work they have put in. I wish we were racing again next weekend, but I am confident that we will continue to make gains in these two weeks off and then make our way to Gainesville even better.”
After two events, Todd retains his top ten points position. He is currently eighth overall.
Alexis DeJoria, driver of the Tequila Patrón Toyota Camry Funny Car, was excited to head into Phoenix. Just two seasons ago, DeJoria claimed her first Wally in Phoenix and was planning on achieving even more history.
In DeJoria’s 101st career event, the Patrón team struggled in the first three attempts down the track. However, Tommy DeLago and the entire team were unfazed as her last pass, a 4.026 second run, moved DeJoria safely up to the 11th position in the final qualifying order. Her draw was Jack Beckman.
The sixth Funny Car pair to see the track, DeJoria was prepared. She left on Beckman and ran a very solid 3.964 second run, which was her best of the weekend. However, that pass and reaction time, which would have defeated five other Funny Car winners, was not enough against Beckman.
DeJoria will retain her top ten points position departing Phoenix.
Two races into the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season, Team Kalitta owns two final round appearances and one no.1 qualifier. The team will return to Ypsilanti and prepare our next event: the historic Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla.
Doug Kalitta – Driver of the Mac Tools Top Fuel Dragster: No. 1 Qualifier (3.741 sec., 326.00 mph) E1: Kalitta defeated Bye - 3.716 sec., 328.22 mph to No Run
**3.716 seconds is the new elapsed time record at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park
E2: Kalitta defeated Connolly - 3.770 sec., 323.19 mph to 5.070 sec., 139.26 mph
E3: Kalitta defeated by Force - 3.794 sec., 322.50 mph to 3.760 sec., 322.50 mph
Del Worsham – Driver of the DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car: No. 5 Qualifier (3.959 sec., 319.60 mph) E1: Worsham defeated Campbell - 3.991 sec., 318.24 mph to 4.298 sec., 242.41 mph
E2: Worsham defeated by Hight - 4.711 sec., 170.82 mph to 3.977 sec., 320.97 mph
J.R. Todd – Driver of the SealMaster Top Fuel Dragster: No. 7 Qualifier (3.787 sec., 318.17 mph) E1: Todd defeated by Pritchett - 4.612 sec., 168.05 mph to 4.361 sec., 245.54 mph
Alexis DeJoria – Driver of the Tequila Patrón Toyota Camry Funny Car: No. 11 Qualifier (4.026 sec., 310.27 mph) E1: DeJoria defeated by Beckman - 3.964 sec., 320.74 mph to 3.939 sec., 318.39 mph
About Kalitta Motorsports:
Based in Ypsilanti, Mich., Kalitta Motorsports is a Top Fuel and Funny Car drag racing team in the NHRA (National Hot Rod Association) Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. The team was founded and is owned by drag racing icon Connie “the Bounty Hunter” Kalitta. For more than 50 years, Connie has been involved in the sport as a driver, tuner, and an owner. Kalitta Motorsports is one of the most successful teams in the history of auto racing with six world championships and over 100 national event titles in five different professional drag racing sanctioning bodies since it was established by Connie in 1959.
Team Kalitta is the home of the 2015 NHRA Mello Yello Funny Car World Champions, Del Worsham. He drives the DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car. Alexis DeJoria pilots the Tequila Patrón Toyota Camry Funny Car. J.R. Todd drives the SealMaster Top Fuel dragster while Connie’s nephew, Doug Kalitta, pilots the Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster. Connie serves as head tuner for all Team Kalitta entries. He is assisted by co-crew chiefs Jon Oberhofer and Nick Boninfante on the DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car, Tommy DeLago and Glen Huszar on the Tequila Patrón Toyota Camry Funny Car, Rob Flynn on the SealMaster Top Fuel dragster and Jim Oberhofer on the Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster.
Associate sponsors on Kalitta Motorsports’ race cars include ARP, AutoDesk CAM, Champion, Cogistics, Darton Sleeves, DHL, Justice Brothers, Kalitta Air, Mac Tools, Optima Batteries, Phoenix Fuel Converter, Racing Electronics, Red Line Oil, SealMaster, Summit Racing Equipment, Technicoat Companies, Tequila Patrón, TMS Titanium, Toyota and Ziebart.
Konnekt with Kalitta Motorsports: For more info about Kalitta Motorsports including exclusive content such as videos, photos and more, please visit #KalittaStrong online - Website: www.teamkalitta.com Facebook: www.facebook.com/TeamKalitta Twitter: www.twitter.com/TeamKalitta YouTube: www.youtube.com/user/TeamKalitta Instagram: www.instagram.com/TeamKalitta