Kalitta Motorsports News
YPSILANTI, Mich., (December 16, 2015) - Kalitta Motorsports is pleased to announce the expansion of their relationship with Toyota.
In addition to teaming with the DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car driven by Del Worsham and the Patrón backed Toyota Camry Funny Car driven by Alexis DeJoria, Toyota will increase their involvement to the Team Kalitta Top Fuel dragster entries: the Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster driven by Doug Kalitta and the Top Fuel dragster driven by J.R. Todd, whose sponsorship will be announced in January. All four Team Kalitta entries will work with Toyota Racing Development (TRD) for technical support.
“After winning the NHRA Funny Car World Championship in 2015 with Del Worsham and Kalitta Motorsports, we look forward to extending our long-term relationship to also include both of the team’s Top Fuel cars for the 2016 season,” said Paul Doleshal, Toyota Motorsports Marketing Manager.
Jim Oberhofer, crew chief on the Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster and Vice President of Operations, Kalitta Motorsports, echoed those sentiments.
“We are proud to be representing Toyota with all four of our Kalitta Motorsports teams,” said Oberhofer. “We look forward to working with everyone at TRD as we have seen the positive difference they’ve made with our Funny Car program in helping make Del a world champion and Alexis a championship contender.”
Kalitta Motorsports was one of Toyota’s first partners in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. In 2006, Scott Kalitta drove a DHL Toyota Camry Solara in his return to Funny Car racing. Since then, Kalitta Motorsports has delivered ten victories and the 2015 NHRA Mello Yello Funny Car Championship for Toyota. That Funny Car championship helped Toyota earn their first ever sweep of the nitro championships in NHRA action.
Toyota’s Top Fuel teams have been the best among the NHRA Top Fuel class for the past several seasons. Since 2010, Toyota has claimed five of six world championships. Last season, Toyota drivers earned wins in 15 of 24 events and earned nearly half of the no.1 qualifiers in the Top Fuel class. Toyota invests in motorsports across the globe and has seen success throughout their NASCAR, Supercross and USAC efforts as well.
YPSILANTI, Mich., (December 01, 2015) - Coming off the team’s highly lucrative 2015 season, Team Kalitta takes a step to ensure that success continues. Effective immediately, Rob Flynn has returned to the Ypsilanti, Michigan shop and will partner with the Hall of Fame driver, tuner and team owner Connie Kalitta to be the co-crew chief on the Top Fuel dragster driven by J.R. Todd.
Flynn spent time working for both Scott and Connie Kalitta in the 1987 and 1988 NHRA seasons before embarking on an outstanding and long-running NHRA career. In the early 2000s, Flynn was a part of the team fielded by current Kalitta driver Del Worsham and most recently worked at Bob Vandergriff Racing and Don Schumacher Racing. Since late 2014, he has been employed by Dote Racing, which recently announced their hiatus from NHRA action. He led driver Leah Pritchett to her career-best season in 2015 and first ever final round appearance.
“I am excited to return to Kalitta Motorsports and be able to work alongside Connie Kalitta,” said Flynn. “J.R. is an excellent driver and I look forward to an outstanding season.”
This will be the second time that Flynn and Todd have teamed together. In 2010, Flynn was the crew chief on the Al-Anabi Racing Pro-Mod that Todd drove in Qatar.
“Team Kalitta continues to make moves to improve my chances at winning races and the championship. I am excited about the opportunity to work with Rob again,” said Todd.
2016 will be the third season for Todd at Kalitta Motorsports. Since joining Team Kalitta, he has earned two victories and 45 round wins, while making the Countdown for the Championship in both seasons. Todd earned his career-best championship finish, a runner-up, in 2014.
The remainder of the Kalitta Motorsports’ four-car roster will remain under the same leadership. Championship winning co-crew chiefs Jon Oberhofer and Nicky Boninfante will continue to guide the DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car for Del Worsham, while Tommy DeLago and Glen Huszar will lead Alexis DeJoria and her Tequila Patrón XO Café Incendio Toyota Camry Funny Car. Jim Oberhofer will continue in his role as crew chief for the Mac Tools Top Fuel Dragster driven by Doug Kalitta.
“I am excited to have Rob working with us here at Kalitta Motorsports,” said Jim Oberhofer, who also is the Vice President of Operations for Team Kalitta. “When I first came to Kalitta’s, Rob worked here and was an early mentor of mine. Not only is he going to add to make J.R.’s team more solid but he will add in making Kalitta Motorsports better as a whole.”
A new crew chief is not the only thing that Todd will welcome to the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Series season. An announcement regarding sponsorship of Todd’s Top Fuel dragster for the entire season will be made in the near future.
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YPSILANTI, Mich. (November 30, 2015) - 2015 was a memorable and record-breaking season for Team Kalitta.
The 2015 Mello Yello Drag Racing Season yielded eight wins, which ties for the most wins ever in one year for Team Kalitta, matching the 1994 and 2005 seasons. Kalitta Motorsports’ 15 wins in the last two seasons is the team’s best two season run in our more than six decades. For just the second time in team history, Team Kalitta had victories in five of the last six events of the season and take a three-race winning streak into 2016.
Del Worsham, driver of the DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car, helped Kalitta Motorsports add to those successful stats while resetting many more records.
Driving the car with the late Scott Kalitta’s name, Worsham drove Kalitta Motorsports to their first Funny Car championship and sixth overall. It was the first since Scott Kalitta drove to back-to-back Top Fuel titles in the 1994 and 1995 seasons. It was also Team Kalitta’s first top five points finish in the Funny Car class. Worsham and his teammate, Alexis DeJoria, came close in the previous season, finishing sixth and seventh.
Worsham is now one of three drivers to own Top Fuel and Funny Car titles, following Kenny Bernstein and Gary Scelzi. He is the first Funny Car driver with four wins in the Countdown for the Championship in one season. He now owns 30 career Funny Car wins which ties him with Bernstein for seventh all-time. His 38 overall victories ties him with his teammate, Doug Kalitta, and ranks them both among the top 20 all-time.
Worsham also earned his 500th round win earlier this season in Chicago. He now has 522 round wins, which rank among the top 15 all-time. He had an incredible 18-2 round winning streak in the Countdown, winning 90% of his rounds. His 20 round wins in the last seven races accounted for half of his 39 round wins on the season, which are the most for him in a Funny Car season since 2004.
Doug Kalitta, driver of the Mac Tools Top Fuel Dragster, had his first three-win season since 2006 as he picked up victories in Houston, Norwalk and the fall Las Vegas event. His Norwalk win was his first at the Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park.
Kalitta finished fifth in the standings, his third consecutive top five points finish. In his 18-year NHRA career, Kalitta has never finished outside of the top ten in the point standings, which is best among Top Fuel drivers.
He will go into the 2016 season with six round wins in the last two events. His 545 career round wins rank top-15 in NHRA history.
Kalitta, a former USAC Champion, ran his 400th career NHRA event this season and made his 81st career final round. Nearly 20% of Kalitta’s career events have ended up in the final round.
He also earned his 43rd career No. 1 qualifier, which moves him just one behind 14th all-time.
J.R. Todd, driver of the Optima Batteries/Red Line Oil/SealMaster Top Fuel Dragster, earned his second consecutive top-ten finish in his two seasons with Kalitta Motorsports.
In 45 career starts with Team Kalitta, he has 45 round wins. He earned his eighth career win in Seattle as he took Red Line Oil to the winner’s circle for the first time as a primary partner in their long-running NHRA sponsorship run.
The Seattle win completes Todd’s personal Western Swing sweep. He earned his first two career victories in Denver and Sonoma in 2006, while matching the Denver victory last season in his first win for Team Kalitta.
He earned his 100th career round win earlier this season in Bristol and added 12 more throughout the remainder of the season to have 112 for his career, while resetting his career best elapsed time in Brainerd and his career best MPH in Pomona.
Alexis DeJoria, driver of the Tequila Patrón XO Café Incendio Toyota Camry Funny Car, also earned back-to-back top ten points finishes for the first time in her career, while earning her first career final round at the Englishtown event.
She improved on her Countdown for the Championship performance by one round win on the season, and ranked as the top driver in the Funny Car class without a victory and outranked one driver with a victory.
DeJoria earned 10 three-second passes this season, including ending the season with two consecutive. She reset her career best MPH in Pomona by reaching over 325mph, and also earned a new career-best elapsed time in Brainerd.
She ended the season on a hot streak with round wins in five of the last six events, which was her best run on the season. DeJoria’s 100th career race will be at the 2016 season’s first event.
Overall Team Kalitta drivers completed the season with a 109-88 round win record with eight wins, 14 final round appearances and four no.1 qualifiers.
POMONA, Calif. (November 15, 2015) - Del Worsham, driver of the DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car, is your 2015 NHRA Mello Yello World Champion and winner of the final race of the year: the Auto Club Finals.
He secured the championship by defeating Jack Beckman in the semi-final round of the Auto Club Finals. In a weekend with record-breaking runs, Worsham came out on top, earning Kalitta Motorsports their first Funny Car championship.
This championship makes Worsham the third driver to win a championship in Top Fuel and Funny Car, while delivering Kalitta Motorsports their first title since the late Scott Kalitta won in back-to-back years in 1994 and 1995 in the Top Fuel class.
This was Toyota’s first Funny Car championship since 2008 and only second overall; and with family and friends around, the championship win became very special for Worsham.
“It is an amazing feeling. I have been here before, not that did me any good up there,” said Worsham. “It felt like it was 25 years ago, and I was making my first run. The team has been behind me, regardless of the situation. We are racing for Scott, Connie and the entire Kalitta Motorsports family. My teammates, sponsors, DHL, Toyota, Red Line, thank you for your support. Nicky Boninfante, Jon Oberhofer, Dave Boyer and the entire DHL team, the job they have did has been incredible. They have not made a mistake since September.”
This team means so much to team owner Connie Kalitta, as it was driven by the late Scott Kalitta. “Everytime I get inside this DHL Toyota Camry I see his (Scott Kalitta’s) name. I hop in and think about Scott, and his sons: Colin and Corey,” said Worsham.
Worsham was stout throughout qualifying. He earned two bonus points and started third. The DHL team was able to pick up round wins over former champions Tony Pedregon and Robert Hight securing the crucial matchup in the semi-finals with Beckman.
The winner of the pairing would win the championship. Beckman and Worsham were the class of the field the entire Countdown and that followed in the Auto Club Finals.
They left side-by-side, but Beckman had to pedal, while the DHL Toyota Camry was true down the track. His 3.92 second run was more than enough to beat Beckman’s 4.088 giving the title to Worsham.
However, the DHL Yella Fellas did not settle. Worsham ran a 3.908 to defeat Tommy Johnson Jr. in the final round to earn his fourth win on the season.
That completed what was a storybook season for Worsham and the entire DHL team.
Doug Kalitta, driver of the Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster, had another solid run in his new chassis. They were solid in qualifying, making it down the track each time. However, they never ran the big number forcing the Mac Tools team to start from the bottom half of the ladder.
However, Jim Oberhofer was ready for the challenge. In the top battle in the Top Fuel class in round one, Kalitta was able to steer his way past a tire smoking Tony Schumacher to gain a spot in points and begin his charge for the Auto Club Finals trophy.
The second round saw Kalitta earn another round win. He took on Billy Torrence, who was stout the whole weekend.The semi-finals did not go Kalitta’s way, but the excitement of Worsham’s win resonated throughout.
“I am so proud to be a part of Kalitta Motorsports,” said Kalitta. “This team rallied and was the one to beat throughout the Countdown. I could not be more proud to be the driver of this Mac Tools ride and I look forward to 2016.”
Kalitta ends the season in fifth in the standings.
Alexis DeJoria, driver of the Patrón XO Café Incendio Toyota Camry Funny Car, had been solid throughout qualifying the past few races, but struggled at the Auto Club Finals. Her qualifying pass of 3.987 seconds was only under power for 900 feet. However, that pass stuck inside the top half and gave her lane choice over Courtney Force in first round.
In what has become the norm recently, DeJoria turned on a stellar light in the first round giving her the advantage over Force as they left the tree. It was a close race, but DeJoria won to earn her sixth countdown round win, which is a career best. Although she fell in second round, DeJoria was proud of her team’s efforts.
“Well, we did not get wins this season, but with that being said, I am still impressed with my team’s ability to still be in the top ten,” said DeJoria. “We only dropped one spot. We are sitting in eighth. I am proud of the progress that we have made with all the different changes that we have made to the car that changes the way that it drives. It has been a very long test session for me this year, but we went more rounds in the Countdown this year than last year. We have been in the threes a lot this year; we made three-second runs numerous times. That was really exciting for me. I am looking forward to next season. Thank you to all of my sponsors: Patrón, Toyota, Mac Tools, Red Line Oil, Kalitta Motorsports and everyone that supports this team on a day-to-day basis. I love you so much; thank you for everything. I’m so incredibly proud of the DHL team. They’ve worked so hard this year, and they deserve that championship. I am so incredibly proud of them.”
DeJoria finished the season in eighth in the standings.
J.R. Todd, driver of the Optima Batteries Top Fuel dragster, hurt several parts in qualifying but was able to set solid elapsed times each time. Todd and his Optima Batteries team continued to improve with each session finally resetting his own career-best MPH in the final qualifying effort with a 331.61 MPH pass. His elapsed time, a 3.732 second run, placed Todd in the fourth position for the final race day of the year.
Todd’s first round opponent, Troy Buff, was extremely consistent in qualifying setting up an intriguing matchup in round one. Todd was once again stellar on the tree and his 3.778 second run was easily able to get the round win. Although the Optima Batteries team lost another engine in that session, the crew was able to get the machine ready for their second round opponent, Richie Crampton. Todd and team had another solid run, a 3.732, but it was not enough as Crampton was able to just get around him at the top end.
“We had better runs this weekend, but hurt a lot of parts,” said Todd. “We are going to go in the offseason and try to learn a ton and be prepared for the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Season. I could not be more proud to be a part of this team and cannot wait to celebrate with the DHL boys tonight.”
Todd completes his second season with Kalitta Motorsports in the ninth position in the standings.
After the completion of the 2015 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season, Team Kalitta is the Funny Car World Champions. Our nitro race cars won eight events, advanced to 14 final rounds and earned four no.1 qualifying positions.
Del Worsham – Driver of the DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car:
No. 3 Qualifier (3.896 sec., 326.32 mph) ***NEW CAREER BEST ET***
E1: Worsham defeated T. Pedregon - 4.039 sec., 300.93 mph to 4.432 sec., 227.61 mph
E2: Worsham defeated Hight - 3.896 sec., 328.30 mph to 5.255 sec., 150.85 mph
E3: Worsham defeated Beckman - 3.928 sec., 327.35 mph to 4.088 sec., 324.83 mph
Final: Worsham defeated Johnson Jr. - 3.908 sec., 328.14 mph to 4.023 sec., 305.42 mph
Doug Kalitta – Driver of the Mac Tools Top Fuel Dragster:
No. 10 Qualifier (3.771 sec., 319.82 mph)
E1: Kalitta defeated Schumacher - 3.783 sec., 274.33 mph to 5.732 sec., 118.11 mph
E2: Kalitta defeated B. Torrence - 3.747 sec., 323.66 mph to 7.079 sec., 83.84 mph
E3: Kalitta defeated by Langdon - 3.774 sec., 322.73 mph to 3.786 sec., 317.94 mph
Alexis DeJoria – Driver of the Patrón XO Café Incendio Toyota Camry Funny Car:
No. 8 Qualifier (3.987 sec., 318.02 mph)
E1: DeJoria defeated C. Force - 3.978 sec., 323.66 mph to 3.986 sec., 325.14 mph
E2: DeJoria defeated by Capps - 3.955 sec., 325.14 mph to 3.885 sec., 326.87 mph
J.R. Todd – Driver of the Optima Batteries Top Fuel Dragster:
No. 4 Qualifier (3.732 sec., 331.61 mph) ***NEW CAREER BEST MPH***
E1: Todd defeated Buff - 3.778 sec., 329.91 mph to 3.845 sec., 311.92 mph
E2: Todd defeated by Crampton - 3.739 sec., 328.22 mph to 3.718 sec., 320.20 mph