Kalitta wins Winternationals
Race Recap: Doug Kalitta and the Mac Tools team scored an opening race win this evening at the NHRA Winternationals at the Auto Club Raceway in Pomona.
In qualifying, Kalitta earned bonus points in three of the four sessions, and was consistent throughout. He was able to earn the fifth starting spot, which meant his teammate, Richie Crampton, in the first round.
Kalitta and Crampton were both stellar on the tree, as they recorded the top two reaction times of the session. Crampton had issues nearly immediately, and Kalitta was skating away before a big blowup before the finish line. Kalitta was able to still score the win, but it left a lot of work for the Mac Tools team.
He moved on to the second round. This time it was clean. Kalitta earned the best reaction time of the round, and led from the start to the finish as the Mac Tools ride got to the finish line in 3.760 seconds, which was enough to defeat Scott Palmer.
Kalitta moved to the semi-finals, and his foe was the new national record holder Clay Millican. Kalitta again got a solid advantage at the starting line. However, the Mac Tools machine quickly dropped a cylinder. Kalitta stayed with it and was able to score the round win to move to his third straight Winternationals final round. It was his fourth final in Pomona in the last five events and tenth final at Auto Club Raceway of Pomona.
His opponent for the 17th time in the final round was Tony Schumacher. Doug was unfazed, and crew chief Jim Oberhofer proved to have the right tune up as Schumacher had issues, and Kalitta’s Mac Tools machine was clean to the finish line.
It was Doug Kalitta’s 44th career win in his 92nd final. It allows Kalitta to start the season atop of the point standings, and give the Mac Tools driver his second Winternationals win.
Qualified: No. 5 (3.703 sec., 330.15 mph)
E1: Kalitta defeated Crampton – 4.121 sec., 217.56 mph to 4.234 sec., no speed given
E2: Kalitta defeated Palmer – 3.760 sec., 329.18 mph to 3.832 sec., 323.27 mph
E3: Kalitta defeated Millican – 3.866 sec., 307.58 mph to 4.860 sec., 145.02 mph
Final: Kalitta defeated Schumacher – 3.779 sec., 324.28 mph to 4.715 sec., 145.93 mph
Quotable: “To get the first win of the season and get that monkey off your back is huge. It was kind of a lucky day. Our Mac Tools Toyota dragster coasted across the finish line twice, but we were still getting the win light. It was one of those crazy days and we went through a lot of parts, but we got it done.”
“I can’t give enough credit to, not only the guys on my car, but to the entire team. The Kalitta Air guys all pitched in and we needed them. It was a thrash to make to at least three of the four rounds. It was just a great team effort.”
“We love coming here to Pomona with all of the history of this place growing up with Connie. This was a big deal. It’s just a great place to run.”
“My guys have a lot of work to do to prepare for Phoenix. We blew up a lot of stuff. They’ll be working right up until Phoenix, to get everything fresh again. But we’ll be ready. We’ll go there and see if we can qualify upfront and get another win.”
Point Standings: First, leads Tony Schumacher by 17
Todd’s season starts with a consistent race car and a first round win
Race Recap: J.R. Todd and the DHL Toyota Camry was very consistent in the first race weekend of the year.
They started their race season with three solid passes out of four possible in qualifying. The best, a 3.908, came in the final qualifying session and scored Todd his first bonus point of the season. The run moved the DHL team inside the top half of the field and into the seventh starting spot. The first round draw was John Force.
What proved to be a long nitro session forced co-crew chiefs Jon Oberhofer and Todd Smith to keep reconsidering strategies. The ended up choosing the correct one. Todd got the jump at the tree and steadily pulled away from Force to score the round win.
It advanced Todd to the quarterfinals where he drew reigning Funny Car champion Robert Hight. Todd again moved first, but Hight was able to get ahead and won by less than a car length.
Qualified: No. 7 (3.908 sec., 326.79 mph)
E1: Todd defeated J.Force – 3.997 sec., 323.58 mph to 4.465 sec., 202.76 mph
E2: Todd defeated by Hight – 3.969 sec., 324.36 mph to 3.937 sec., 329.10 mph
Quotable: “All in all a good weekend with the DHL Toyota. We went down the track five out of six runs. We definitely started off in a better direction than we ended last year. Not having lane choice in the second round played a little bit of a factor, but we still should have run better than that. Now we have something to build off of for Phoenix.”
Point Standings: Tied for sixth with Tim Wilkerson
Crampton’s strong on the tree in his full-time Kalitta debut
Race Recap: Richie Crampton, driver of the Kalitta Air Top Fuel Dragster, was defeated by his teammate, Doug Kalitta, in the first round despite a class-best .033 reaction time.
Crew chiefs Connie Kalitta and Rob Flynn never got a qualifying pass that they were fully happy with. Crampton’s best was a 3.782 at only 314.75 mph. That seeded Crampton in the 10th position and with a short field, lined him up against his teammate, Doug Kalitta.
Crampton and Kalitta were part of a marathon Top Fuel session. However, they were still focused once they reached the starting line. Crampton destroyed the tree with a .033 reaction time, but shortly after his Kalitta Air Top Fuel dragster encountered tire smoke. Crampton pedaled but was unable to catch up to Kalitta despite his eventual troubles before the finish line.
Qualified: No. 10 (3.782 sec., 314.75 mph)
E1: Crampton defeated by Kalitta – 4.121 sec., 217.56 mph to 4.234 sec., no speed recorded
Quotable: “It was good start simply to be here running the full 2018 season. We’re still battling consistency. It wasn’t the ideal situation to have to run our teammate in the first round. We knew we had to go for it because Doug Kalitta and that Mac Tools Toyota team are among the best out here. Unfortunately, we didn’t quite hit our marks and fell to Doug. That’s ok. We’ll regroup. I’m looking forward to when we get to Phoenix. We tested pretty well there. I think that’s going to be pretty valuable for us to get dialed in when we get over there to qualify. I think we’re going to have a good race there in the Kalitta Air DHL Toyota team.”
Point Standings: 13th; trails Terry McMillen by one point for 12th
Langdon’s Funny Car debut ends early
Race Recap: Shawn Langdon and the Global Electronic Technology Toyota Camry Funny Car turned a lot of heads this weekend with its flashy new scheme, but it was an early finish to Langdon’s first official Funny Car run as he was defeated in the first round by Ron Capps.
Langdon started the weekend with a solid 3.949 second pass. With stellar reaction times all weekend, Langdon was impressive all weekend in his Global Electronic Technology Toyota Camry Funny Car. With 20 cars in the property, Langdon qualified right in the middle of field in the 12th spot. His first Funny Car opponent was the 2016 Funny Car champion Ron Capps.
Langdon got the jump at the tree, but shortly after hit tire smoke. He pedaled his Global Electronic Technology Toyota Camry Funny Car, but Capps sped away and scored the round win.
Qualified: No. 12 (3.949 sec., 328.06 mph)
E1: Langdon defeated by Capps – 10.060 sec., 79.68 mph to 4.833 sec., 167.53 mph
Quotable: “It was difficult. We sat out there a long time. There was a lot of things going on with the Top Fuel cars in front. The air was making some moves and it was drying out and we should have adjusted a little more for it. The first race out, I’m not disappointed. I feel I could have done a better job pedaling our Global Electronic Technology Camry. I knew what my mistakes were. There was just so much going on in my first race out. I wasn’t patient enough with it. I’m happy with the overall team effort and I’m happy with my reaction time (fourth-quickest in the round). We’re learning. We’re going to have a good year. I feel it and I’m excited for it.”
Point Standings: Tied for 10th with Del Worsham and Tommy Johnson Jr.