Kalitta Motorsports News
DELRAY BEACH, Fla. (August 13, 2013)— Despite one final and four semi-final round appearances for the Kalitta Motorsports Tequila Patrón Toyota Camry Funny Car team throughout their high-profile career, a visit to the coveted Winner’s Circle has continued to elude the Ypsilanti, Mich. based team, now in their sophomore season.
With just eight events left in the 24-race season, Team Patrón has their sights set on one major goal- win a national event. The team has experienced their share of ups and downs throughout the 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing season, but recent changes to the car has the team feeling optimistic that the chance to pick up their first Wally will happen soon.
That next chance could be this weekend at 32nd annual NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway. Following the grueling Western Swing, the black-and-green team had a weekend off from racing to regroup, refocus and prepare for the ever-popular event, which draws legions of loyal fans to the area.
“The Western Swing didn’t exactly play out the way we were hoping it would,” said DeJoria, an Austin, Texas transplant. “That first round loss in Seattle set us back and was definitely disappointing, especially coming off of our visit to the semis in Sonoma. Thankfully, we were able to make progress with our new chassis over that three race stretch.”
KENT, Wash. (August 4, 2013)— The Kalitta Motorsports Tequila Patrón Toyota Camry Funny Car team leaves Seattle without their much-needed event win on Sunday after a first round loss at the 26th annual NHRA Northwest Nationals.
The twelfth ranked Patrón team, fresh off of their third semi-final round appearance of the season, felt confident going into race day. With only two chances to qualify due to a rainout on Friday, the black and green team led by veteran crew chief Tommy DeLago ran an impressive 4.099-second pass in the opening qualifying session. The run held up to take the No. 9 qualifying spot in the ultra-competitive Funny Car class and pitted driver Alexis DeJoria against No. 8 qualifier Courtney Force in round one of eliminations.
DeJoria and Force were the last pair up in the fuel Funny Car category on Sunday and fans eagerly awaited what was the ‘must watch’ matchup of the round. DeJoria powered her Tequila Patrón Toyota Camry to a pass of 4.161-sec at 291.26-mph, but it wasn’t enough to take out Force’s 4.086-sec run, ending Team Patrón’s day.
“I’m definitely heartbroken over our first round loss today. We had some good mojo coming into this weekend after making it to the semis in Sonoma. We only had two chances to qualify here in Seattle and we did pretty well with that 4.09. There’s a lot of tough competition out here,” said DeJoria of the stacked Funny Car class, which even found last week’s event winner on the outside of the field.
“Courtney’s car has been running pretty well, but I was confident going into the first round. Unfortunately we didn’t get it done today. We gave them a hell of a show though. My car was on a good run but starting spinning the tires a little at the top end and that’s when I saw her pass me. It’s the end of our weekend, but we’ve got some time off before our next race so we’ll regroup, refocus, and get race-ready for Brainerd. I’m ready to put this Patrón hot rod in the Winner’s Circle.”
The team currently sits in the No. 12 spot on the NHRA’s Countdown to the Championship points list with 672 points. Their next opportunity to gain more points will be at the 32nd annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals. For more information, please visit www.alexisdejoria.com. Follow us on Twitter: @ADR_Nitro771 and Like Us on Facebook: Alexis DeJoria.
SEATTLE, Wash., (Aug. 4, 2013) – Native Australian David Grubnic, driver of the Optima Batteries Top Fuel dragster for Kalitta Motorsports, raced to a runner-up finish in Sunday’s eliminations of the annual running of the NHRA Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceways in Seattle.
Grubnic and the Optima Batteries team qualified in the No. 2 (3.765 seconds, 317.57 mph) slot for Sunday’s eliminations, missing his second-consecutive No. 1 spot by only .001 of a second. Grubnic defeated Brandon Bernstein in round one by running the quickest elapsed time of the round, 3.789 sec., 317.72 mph to 3.827 sec., 311.34 mph. In round two, Grubnic’s quick right foot helped him and his team get a slight holeshot win over Clay Millican, 3.848 sec., 311.49 mph to 3.840 sec., 310.05 mph. The margin of victory for the Optima Batteries dragster was only approximately 17 inches.
In the semifinals, Grubnic faced first-time semifinalist T.J. Zizzo. Once the “Christmas Tree” went green, Grubnic was out of the gate first and never trailed as Zizzo had traction problems, 3.847 sec., 310.55 mph to 4.611 sec., 167.74 mph. Grubnic’s win over Zizzo sent him to the 17th final round of his career and first “money round” of the season.
In the final, it was Grubnic this time who suffered traction problems in the Optima Batteries entry before 300 ft., and Lucas was able to pull away for the event win, 4.253 sec., 256.31 mph to 3.908 sec., 296.57 mph.
“Our Optima Batteries car was one of the best cars on the property in Seattle, and we’re extremely happy about that even though we didn’t get the win,” Grubnic, a 50-year old resident of Bozeman, Mont., said. “Sure we’re disappointed we didn’t go home with the trophy, but Connie (Kalitta, team owner and crew chief) and the entire Optima Batteries team did an awesome job all weekend so we’re not hanging our heads. We made up some valuable points and that’s great.”
Top Fuel drivers now have only two events remaining to qualify for NHRA’s six-event “playoff”, the Countdown to the Championship, by being in the top ten in Mello Yello championship points when racing concludes at the famed U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis, Aug. 28-Sept. 2. Grubnic is currently in 11th place, 78 points away from the top ten. He entered the event in Seattle 126 points behind 10th place.
Grubnic is an 18-year Top Fuel veteran and earned his first career Top Fuel victory in Topeka, Kan. in 2005, becoming the first racer born outside North America to win an NHRA Top Fuel event. He has garnered three NHRA Top Fuel national event victories so far. The always-affable Grubnic is known affectionately by his peers and fans as “Grubby”.
SEATTLE, Wash., (Aug. 4, 2013) – Del Worsham, driver of the DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car for Kalitta Motorsports, had his Sunday race day unexpectedly end early during eliminations of the NHRA Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceways in Seattle.
Worsham, a 43-year old resident of Chino Hills, Calif., qualified the DHL “flopper” in the lofty No. 3 (4.065 seconds, 303.84) spot and raced against No. 14 Cruz Pedregon in the Funny Car eliminations opener. Pedregon made his best pass of the weekend against Worsham and was able to get the win, 4.184 sec., 292.96 mph to 4.064 sec., 299.80 mph.
Funny Car drivers now have only two events remaining to qualify for NHRA’s six-event “playoff”, the Countdown to the Championship, by being in the top ten in Mello Yello championship points when racing concludes at the famed U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis, Aug. 28-Sept. 2. Worsham is currently in 11th place, a mere three points away from the top ten.
So far in 2013, Worsham and the DHL “Yella Fellas” have posted three semi-final showings and have raced to one runner-up finish (Gainesville, Fla.). They were the No. 1 qualifiers at the event in Bristol, Tenn., as well.
Worsham began his straight-line racing career in the fall of 1990 and has gone on to secure 33 career wins, including 25 in the Funny Car class. After switching Nitro classes and clinching the 2011 Top Fuel NHRA World Championship, the fan-favorite Worsham retired from driving and became crew chief for fellow Kalitta Motorsports teammate Alexis DeJoria. After one season out of the driver’s seat, he returned as a driver this season to take the controls of the DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car.