CHARLOTTE (Sept. 15, 2015) – It has been an exciting week for J.R. Todd, driver of the Jimi Hendrix Foundation Top Fuel Dragster. Since the announcement of his new partnership with the Jimi Hendrix Foundation last Thursday, there have been interviews and media hits across the country. The world will finally see the Jimi Hendrix Foundation Top Fuel Dragster on Friday, when it is unveiled at 1pmEST on September 18th in front of the zMax Dragway tower. September 18th also commemorates the 45th anniversary of Hendrix’s passing.
Todd has been very successful with qualifying at zMax Dragway since joining Kalitta Motorsports. Last season, Todd qualified 2nd and 1st in his two Charlotte starts, and earlier this season reset the track record, earning another pole position by running a 3.713 second lap in the final qualifying session of the event. However, with all of that early weekend success, Todd has yet to turn on four win lights on Sunday. He plans to reverse that luck and earn his first Charlotte victory this weekend at the Carolina Nationals.
“Charlotte has been a good track for us in the past and I’m looking forward to getting there and kicking off the countdown,” said Todd. “It would be great to come out of there with a win to start our march toward the championship. It’s also a big weekend for us as we unveil the Jimi Hendrix Foundation car and there’s no better way to raise awareness for them than going out and winning.”
Todd is part of a Kalitta Motorsports clean sweep for the Countdown for the Championship. Last season, he went from the 10th position all the way up to finish as the championship runner-up. This season, Todd begins his chase two spots better in 8th.
Sitting one spot better than his teammate is Doug Kalitta, driver of Mac Tools Top Fuel Dragster. He begins the Countdown in the 7th position.
After running a patriotic DEWALT scheme in Indianapolis, Kalitta moves to Charlotte back in his familiar Mac Tools colors.
Although Kalitta has yet to pick up a Charlotte victory, he consistently runs well at zMax Dragway. He earned a final round appearance in 2010 at this event and earlier this season qualified in the top five and advanced past the first round.
By qualifying for the Countdown for the Championship, Kalitta has guaranteed his 18th consecutive top-ten finish in the point standings, never finishing outside of the top ten in the standings in his career and his current streak is longest among all NHRA Top Fuel drivers.
“My crew chief Jim O has won a couple of Top Fuel championships and we are all really hungry,” said Kalitta, who has advanced to the Countdown to the Championship for the eighth straight year. “Hopefully this will be the year it all comes together.”
The highest seed of any Kalitta Motorsports drivers is Del Worsham, driver of the DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car, who has had a consistent machine throughout the season. He starts fourth, which is his best seed since joining Team Kalitta.
Worsham has yet to win this season, but has long joked that he’s been saving those wins for the Countdown where victories are the most critical. He knows how to get the job done in Charlotte.
The 2011 Top Fuel winner in the 4-Wide Nationals, Worsham can become the first driver ever to earn wins in both of NHRA’s top classes at zMax Dragway. He almost added that victory earlier this season.
Worsham qualified ninth and moved through drivers such as Cruz Pedregon, Courtney Force and Tommy Johnson, Jr. before coming up short against Jack Beckman. That was the second of three final round appearances on the season for Worsham, who left Charlotte with the points lead for the first time since his 2011 Top Fuel World Championship.
“Charlotte is a great track and a great place to kick off the Countdown,” said Worsham. “Every round is now critical, but I am confident that this DHL Toyota Camry is ready for a deep run towards the title.”
Worsham’s own car will also be making an appearance this weekend as Shane Westerfield takes to the track in Worsham Racing’s machine.
Alexis DeJoria, driver of the Patrón XO Café Incendio Toyota Camry Funny Car, earned her second consecutive run at the title last weekend in Indianapolis. She may start as the 10 seed, but after watching teammate J.R. Todd run last season; DeJoria is confident in her team.
Last season, DeJoria had a great season at zMax Dragway. In the spring 4-Wide event, DeJoria drove her way to the final round; her third in the first five events of the season. Then in the fall, DeJoria earned her second career no. 1 qualifier at this race. She moved down the track with a run of 4.090 seconds to start the countdown right.
Although the Patrón XO Café Incendio team struggled in the first Charlotte event earlier this season, they are confident they have gotten it turned around.
“My goal this weekend is to keep it simple,” said DeJoria. “We need to be consistent and go rounds. We’ve been given a great opportunity to run for the money!”
Teammates Todd and Worsham will join DeJoria throughout the weekend as they sign autographs in the Patrón XO Café Incendio merchandise hauler.
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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 five world championships and over 100 national event titles in five different professional drag racing sanctioning bodies since it was established by Connie in 1959.
Del Worsham drives the DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car for Team Kalitta. Alexis DeJoria pilots the Tequila Patrón XO Café Incendio Toyota Camry Funny Car. J.R. Todd drives the Jimi Hendrix Foundation 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, by Tommy DeLago and Glen Huszar on the Tequila Patrón XO Café Incendio Toyota Camry Funny Car, and by Jim Oberhofer on the Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster. Connie serves as crew chief on the Jimi Hendrix Foundation Top Fuel dragster.
Associate sponsors on Kalitta Motorsports’ race cars include Justice Brothers, Kalitta Air, Optima Batteries, Patrón XO Café Incendio, Phoenix Fuel Converter, Red Line Oil, SealMaster, Summit Racing Equipment, Technicoat Companies, TMS Titanium, Toyota and Ziebart.