COMMERCE, Ga. (May 15, 2016) – Doug Kalitta, driver of the Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster, and J.R. Todd, driver of the SealMaster Top Fuel dragster, advanced to the final today giving Kalitta Motorsports their first all-team Top Fuel final since 2006 and in the closest Top Fuel race in NHRA history, Kalitta escaped a victor.
Kalitta was on a hot streak coming into race weekend and never slowed down. Jim Oberhofer tuned the Mac Tools dragster up on mean and ran a 3.731 seconds defeating his closed rival by three hundreths and resetting his own track record. He earned two more bonus points on Saturday and earned his 45th career no.1 qualifier. It was his second in three seasons in Atlanta.
Kalitta’s first opponent, Terry Haddock, was not able to make the run, but Kalitta would have been tough regardless. Kalitta ran low of the session with a 3.737 second pass to give him lane choice over rival Tony Schumacher in round 2.
Kalitta and Schumacher would deliver the best race in the quarterfinals. They left together and got to the finish line stripe just .002 seconds apart with the Mac Tools machine just inches ahead. Kalitta was pumped and ready for the target. With his teammate behind him, Kalitta deliver a sub .050 second light and easily defeated a tire smoking Antron Brown to reach the final for the second straight race for the first time since 2014.
His opponent: his teammate J.R. Todd. The race came down to the computers as Todd and Kalitta were so close at the line no one was sure. By less than one ten-thousandth of a second, Kalitta was the victor. It gave him 40 for his career and moved him to fourth all-time in Top Fuel.
Kalitta also scored back-to-back wins for the first time since 2006 and took over the points lead by 64 over Antron Brown.
“What an incredible race,” said Kalitta. “It just shows how much effort and time goes into these race cars at Kalitta Motorsports. I could not be more proud to a part of this team and part of what the Mac Tools guys are doing. To win two in a row is stellar and I could not be more excited.
Todd also had a stellar set of qualifying passes. With a 3.762 second pass, Connie Kalitta and Rob Flynn set up the SealMaster ride to be qualified strong. However, even more impressive was their Saturday efforts which saw them earn five out of a possible six bonus points for the best runs of the session. Overall Todd earned the most bonus points of any Top Fuel driver and started third.
Todd drew Kyle Wurtzel for the first time in eliminations to start his day. Wurtzel had a great run, but not enough to take down Todd’s pass. The SealMaster boys tuned Todd up to a 3.759 second run, which was even quicker than his qualifying pass.
Todd had a tough draw in round two. Brittany Force, who came in as the series’ points leader was in the other lane. Todd was unfazed and Flynn and Kalitta were prepared. Todd had the best run of the round, 3.757 seconds, to make his way to his third semi-final effort of the season.
It looked like mechanical problems were going to stop the run for Todd in the semi-finals. However, James Riola and the SealMaster team had quick thinking and was able to get the tire rolling again and Todd was focused. Facing friend Shawn Langdon, Todd delivered the knockout punch that clinched Kalitta Motorsports’ first all-team final in ten seasons. His 3.782 second run just barely gave up lane choice to his teammate which was sure to be a battle.
And a battle it was. Todd and Kalitta came down to the line with a margin too close for the blind eye. In the closest finish in Top Fuel history, Kalitta just squeaked by Todd’s ride.
“You never want to come that close and not get it done,” said Todd. “However, it is great to see both Team Kalitta cars in the final and the SealMaster team knows we can definitely get the job done in Topeka.”
Todd gained one spot in the standings to fifth.
Del Worsham, driver of the DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car, did not have the typical qualifying effort the DHL ‘Yella Fellas’ are used to. Two passes with potential big number ended early due to part failure. Worsham would go on to claim the tenth starting position, easily the lowest he has qualified this season.
But Worsham and the DHL team were determined to not get down. A tough first round draw with points leader Tim Wilkerson awaited. Worsham was ready at the line, recording the best light of the session; and the team was ready at the finish line, easily defeating Wilkerson despite a non-complete pass. Worsham recored a 3.975 but only at 287mph. Next up, former champion Matt Hagan.
Worsham again was ready. He beat Hagan off the line by three hundredths, but it was just not enough on the other end. Worsham would have defeated every other Funny Car in the round except for Hagan continuing the DHL team’s streak of bad luck.
“The car was there today and my DHL Toyota guys worked really hard,” said Worsham. “I am pleased with the performance of our car and I know we will be a contender next week in Topeka.”
Worsham gained one spot in the standings to sixth.
Alexis DeJoria, driver of the Tequila Patrón Toyota Camry Funny Car, continued to produce stellar performance at the Southern Nationals. After some early tire smoke in the first qualifying attempt, DeJoria laid down three solid passes and claimed her third straight top five qualifying spot, slotting in fourth for Sunday’s first round of eliminations.
Her first opponent would be part-time campaigner Dave Richards. The Florida native was on his second race day start of the year with a career-best run. However, DeJoria was ready at the tree earning a nearly one tenth advantage at the starting line. She took that to the stripe to earn the round win and lane choice over Tommy Johnson Jr. in the quarterfinals. Johnson Jr. smoked the tires early in the run, but DeJoria was unable to advance to the semi-finals after a red light start.
DeJoria falls to the ninth place in the standings.
Through seven events on the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season, Team Kalitta owns two wins, eight final round appearances and three no.1 qualifiers. Our second race of back-to-back events takes the series to Heartland Park Topeka for the NHRA Kansas Nationals next weekend.
Doug Kalitta – Driver of the Mac Tools Top Fuel Dragster: No. 1 Qualifier (3.731 sec., 328.22 mph) **TRACK RECORD ELAPSED TIME**
E1: Kalitta defeated Haddock – 3.737 sec., 328.22 mph to no run
E2: Kalitta defeated Schumacher – 3.782 sec., 326.24 mph to 3.789 sec., 325.06 mph
E3: Kalitta defeated Brown – 3.779 sec., 324.90 mph to 9.833 sec., 72.21 mph
Final: Kalitta defeated Todd – 3.801 sec., 323.19 mph to 3.780 sec., 320.66 mph
J.R. Todd – Driver of the SealMaster Top Fuel Dragster: No. 3 Qualifier (3.762 sec., 323.81 mph)
E1: Todd defeated Wurtzel – 3.759 sec., 326.00 mph to 3.853 sec., 309.84 mph
E2: Todd defeated Force – 3.757 sec., 324.36 mph to 3.784 sec., 320.97 mph
E3: Todd defeated Langdon – 3.782 sec., 322.96 mph to 3.817 sec., 318.77 mph
Final: Todd defeated by Kalitta – 3.780 sec., 320.66 mph to 3.801 sec., 323.19 mph
Del Worsham – Driver of the DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car: No. 10 Qualifier (4.019 sec., 316.82 mph)
E1: Worsham defeated Wilkerson – 3.975 sec., 287.11 mph to 4.064 sec., 310.48 mph
E2: Worsham defeated by Hagan – 3.972 sec., 325.45 mph to 3.926 sec., 327.19 mph
Alexis DeJoria – Driver of the Tequila Patrón Toyota Camry Funny Car: No. 4 Qualifier (3.949 sec., 318.69 mph)
E1: DeJoria defeated Richards – 3.950 sec., 324.50 mph to 4.355 sec., 213.57 mph
E2: DeJoria defeated by Johnson Jr. – Foul to 7.146 sec., 97.74 mph
Mello Yello Championship Points:
1. Doug Kalitta (566)
2. Antron Brown (522)
3. Brittany Force (518)
4. Steve Torrence (474)
5. J.R. Todd (418)
6. Clay Millican (387)
7. Tony Schumacher (349)
8. Richie Crampton (337)
9. Leah Pritchett (308)
10. Terry McMillen (293)
1. Courtney Force (522)
2. Jack Beckman (482)
3. Tim Wilkerson (476)
4. Ron Capps (471)
5. Robert Hight (458)
6. Del Worsham (429)
7. John Force (416)
8. Matt Hagan (400)
9. Alexis DeJoria (394)
10. Tommy Johnson Jr. (351)
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