LAS VEGAS (Oct. 28, 2015) – Team Kalitta has hit the jackpot recently on the Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. With victories in the Funny Car class in two of the last three Vegas events and two consecutive Top Fuel No. 1 qualifiers, the four-car Kalitta effort is ready for a return to one of NHRA’s premiere racing facilities for the Toyota Nationals.
Del Worsham, driver of the DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car, has one of those Funny Car wins.
Last season, the DHL team debuted the brand new Toyota Camry body at Toyota’s event. Worsham qualified 12th but Jon Oberhofer and Nicky Boninfante tuned up the DHL Camry on raceday with four consecutive solid passes eliminating Jeff Arend, Ron Capps, Matt Hagan and John Force for his lone victory of 2014.
That victory made Worsham the first driver in NHRA history to claim Wallys in NHRA’s top two classes at the Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
This season, Worsham comes in with momentum. Earning three victories in the last four races, the DHL ‘Yella Fellas’ have prepared a solid DHL Camry with a goal of defending Worsham’s Toyota Nationals crown and continuing the run toward the Mello Yello Funny Car championship. Worsham holds a 38-point advantage over Jack Beckman heading into this weekend.
“Our lead is not comfortable,” said Worsham. “The DHL Toyota team has done an incredible job staying focused and running like we are in tenth in points, not first. We will continue to follow that mindset and let the chips fall where they are supposed to.”
Fans can meet Worsham as he is a featured driver for the NHRA Fan Fest on Fremont Street from 5:30pm-6:30pm on Thursday or at track on Friday and Saturday at 11am at the Toyota Pit Pass display.
J.R. Todd, driver of the Optima Batteries Top Fuel Dragster, is excited to return to The Strip, which is one of his best tracks since joining Kalitta Motorsports last season.
In Todd’s three events with Team Kalitta in Las Vegas, he has an average qualifying position among the top five with two consecutive no. 1 qualifiers. At last year’s Toyota Nationals, Todd set the track record elapsed time with a 3.732 second pass.
Raceday has been solid as well. Todd has six round wins in three events with back-to-back semi-final or better finishes. His first Toyota Nationals with Kalitta Motorsports saw Todd advance to the finals, just missing out on his first Vegas win. That event was one of 12 in the last two seasons that Kalitta Motorsports has advanced a driver to both the Top Fuel and Funny Car finals.
“I am excited for our return to Las Vegas,” said Todd. “The Optima Batteries team is ready for a rebound after a couple rough events and I am confident that we can make a turnaround at the Toyota Nationals.”
Optima Batteries, a longtime Kalitta Motorsports partner, returns to the primary placement this weekend on Todd’s ride for the second of three events. Optima Batteries will remain in the primary role for the AAA World Finals in Pomona.
Another Team Kalitta driver who has had a run of success is Alexis DeJoria, driver of the Patrón XO Café Incendio Toyota Camry Funny Car.
DeJoria has advanced to the semi-finals or better in four of the last five Las Vegas events, including earning her second career victory in last season’s spring event, the SummitRacing.com Nationals. DeJoria’s victory took her through some of the best competition that NHRA has to offer: Matt Hagan, Tony Pedregon, Cruz Pedregon and Robert Hight. Those drivers have combined for seven NHRA world championships.
DeJoria followed that up with a solid showing earlier this season. She qualified fourth and then got around Courtney Force and her teammate, Worsham, in advancing to her second semi-final finish of the season.
“Vegas has been one of the best tracks for us performance wise,” said DeJoria. “On Monday, after the race in Ennis, our team tested and had very promising results and we feel that our performance can and will continue to improve. It’s our manufacturer’s sponsored race (Toyota) as well as the city where the Patron Spirits Company is headquartered at. That being said all eyes are on us this weekend to bring home the hardware!”
Las Vegas sees the continuation of the outstanding Free Mammograms for the Fans program. Female fans can get a free mammogram regardless of insurance status courtesy of Alexis DeJoria Racing. The Mammovan is from the Nevada Health Centers and opens at 9:30am on both Friday and Saturday to serve the female NHRA fans.
The Mammovan and DeJoria’s hot pink Patrón XO Café Incendio Toyota Camry Funny Car will be on display during the NHRA Fan Fest on Fremont Street with DeJoria on-site to sign autographs.
Doug Kalitta, driver of the Wrenching for a Cure Mac Tools Top Fuel Dragster, owns his own victory at the Strip at Las Vegas Motors Speedway. Kalitta earned the lucky draw in 2004 to claim his victory in Vegas and he is eager to add more.
He came close just one season ago as he achieved the second starting position for the spring event and was able to get past Steve Faria, Bob Vandergriff and Steve Torrence before losing by just inches to Tony Schumacher. That was Kalitta’s fifth career final round appearance in Las Vegas. Combine those statistics with two no.1 qualifiers and the competitors know that Kalitta will be one to beat heading into the next-to-last event on the NHRA Mello Yello Series season.
After recent struggles, the pink Mac Tools ride and team stayed and tested on Monday in Ennis and learned things that they believe will cross over to this weekend’s Toyota Nationals. That has Kalitta excited as he looks to rebound on what has been a tough Countdown for the Championship thus far.
“We made several good passes on Monday,” said Kalitta. “I am confident the Mac Tools team is ready and I could not be more ready to return to Las Vegas.”
Kalitta will join his teammates Todd and DeJoria in the Patrón/Team Kalitta merchandise hauler throughout the weekend.
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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 Optima Batteries 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 Optima Batteries 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.