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.
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