Post-Race Report Event 03: NHRA Gatornationals Gainesville Raceway Gainesville, Fla.

Richie Crampton Connie Kalitta Win Gatornationals.jpg

Richie Crampton Connie Kalitta Win Gatornationals.jpg

Crampton wins Gatornationals

Race Recap: Richie Crampton became the 10th driver to win for NHRA icon Connie Kalitta as he picked up his first Gatornationals win earlier today.

The weekend did not go completely as planned as qualifying was not what Crampton or crew chiefs, Rob Flynn and Connie Kalitta, envisioned. The Kalitta Air/DHL dragster failed to make it down the track cleanly in any of the four qualifying attempts. Their best, a 3.942 second pass, was only at 305.49 mph. 

That seeded Crampton in the 10th starting spot and gave him a draw of his teammate, Doug Kalitta, for the second time in three races to start the year. Crampton and Kalitta had a great race, and the Kalitta Air driver was able to nose ahead at the finish line via Crampton’s stellar reaction time. 

Crampton moved to the quarterfinals for the first time this year. His opponent was class newcomer Mike Salinas. Crampton got the jump at the line, recording the best reaction time in the class in the round, and was out ahead of Salinas, when he had issues. Salinas was suffering his own woes and crossed the centerline attempting to catch back up to Crampton, giving the Kalitta Air team the round win.

In the semi-finals, Crampton faced fellow Toyota Racing driver Antron Brown. Both drivers had problems soon after the race began. Crampton had his second and was able to use his momentum to beat Brown to the line. That allowed Crampton to reach his 10th career final round and second in 10 races since joining Kalitta Motorsports. It was his first Gatornationals final round appearance. 

In the finals, Crampton drew first time finalist Shawn Reed. However, when Shawn Reed was shutoff after the burnout due to a fuel leak, the first Gatornationals title for Crampton was secured. It was his eighth career win and first for Connie Kalitta; it was the 96th NHRA win overall for Kalitta Motorsports.

With the win, Crampton moved from 15th to sixth in the point standings.

Qualified: No. 10 (3.942 sec., 305.49 mph) 

E1: Crampton defeated Kalitta – 3.776 sec., 317.49 mph to 3.769 sec., 327.98 mph 

E2: Crampton defeated Salinas – 4.413 sec., 258.81 mph to DQ (Center Line Infraction)

E3: Crampton defeated Brown – 5.097 sec., 204.85 mph to 6.132 sec., 196.92 mph 

Final: Crampton defeated Reed – 3.854 sec., 314.90 mph to no run

Quotable: ““It was a great day for Connie and everyone with this Kalitta Air team. We had a lot of great help from Slugger (Labbe) and the TRD team trying to figure out this hot race track. We had it dialed in for the final run. The 3.85 was a heck of a run, but it was unfortunate that Shawn wasn’t able to make a pass. You hate to take a win by default like that, but I’ll take it. It feels good to win again.”
“It was pretty interesting. As always we were able to make great power at Gainesville. The track temps were just up a bit and it make the crew chiefs just pull their hair out. It made it a little bit more of a drivers race and it evened the playing field a little bit. I thrived on it. I loved it. It was one of my most rewarding wins ever.”

“It wasn’t all that long ago that I was sitting on the sidelines, reminiscing about when I used to drive a Top Fuel car. So to be back in a car for Connie, Kalitta Air, DHL, Toyota and everyone, I’m just really lucky. So I’m just working hard to try to make sure I deserve to drive for this team. It’s going to be a good year.”
“It’s tough out here. We’ve seen so much out here this year. This season is going to be tougher than it was last year, which was tougher than it was the year before. It’s just going to be a hard year, so we just have to dig it and try to win some more. I think we have all the tools we need. Connie, my crew chief Rob Flynn and all the guys on the crew are great. We’re going to keep digging and try to bring home some more trophies.”

Point Standings: Sixth; leads Scott Palmer by two points for seventh; trails Doug Kalitta by 19 points for fifth

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Langdon earns second straight semi-final result

Race Recap: Shawn Langdon and the Global Electronic Technology team earned their second straight semi-final in Gainesville earlier today. 

Langdon started qualifying by resetting his career-best elapsed time for a third consecutive race in the Friday evening session. This time it was good enough for fourth overall on the final qualifying order, which gave him a new career best Funny Car start. His first round draw was Gary Densham, who was inducted in the Drag Racing Hall of Fame earlier this weekend.

Langdon’s Global Electronic Technology team, led by Tommy DeLago and Nicky Boninfante, were ready for the first round and were not taking Densham lightly. Their 3.943 second pass gave them lane choice in the second round over Tommy Johnson Jr. The opening round win gave Langdon 250 round wins for his career. 

Johnson Jr. and Langdon were the final pair in the second round, and watched massive explosions and tire shake in front of them. Johnson Jr. would suffer the same fate, but Langdon was able to make it clean almost to the stripe as an early shutoff, 4.025 elapsed time, was more than enough to defeat Johnson Jr.

Unfortunately, the semi-finals was as far as Langdon could reach for a second straight race as his Global Electronic Technology suffered near immediate tire smoke to give the round win to no.1 qualifier Jack Beckman.

Qualified: No. 4 (3.943 sec., 324.75 mph) 

E1: Langdon defeated Densham – 3.943 sec., 324.75 mph to 4.145 sec., 273.61 mph 

E2: Langdon defeated Johnson Jr. – 4.025 sec., 313.37 mph to 4.841 sec., 172.10 mph

E3: Langdon defeated by Beckman – 9.414 sec., 81.39 mph to 4.478 sec., 199.35 mph

Quotable: “We had a good day; the track was just really, really tricky today.  It was good in the first round when the cloud cover was on the track, but after it cleared up and the sun came out, it just made things difficult. We did a good job in the second round, then we got put over in the right lane for the semis and I just smoked the tires on the hit.  We’re going rounds.  For our third race and we’ve already been to the semi-finals twice, it shows we’ve got a competitive race car.  Our Global Electronic Technology Camry team is doing a great job. I’m having fun, but i really want to win.”

Point Standings: Seventh; leads J.R. Todd by 57 points for eighth; trails Tommy Johnson Jr. by eight points for sixth

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Kalitta defeated by teammate in close first round duel

Race Recap: Doug Kalitta lost a close first round race with his teammate, Richie Crampton, at the Gatornationals earlier today.

Kalitta and the Mac Tools team had a rough Friday qualifying, but Jim Oberhofer and the rest of the crew had a great plan for Saturday as the Mac Tools driver scored five of six available bonus points and improved his qualifying position to seventh.

Unfortunately, Kalitta drew his teammate, Richie Crampton in the first round for the second time in three races. The duo was the final Top Fuel pair to hit the track and they delivered a great race with Crampton picking up the win on a small holeshot. 

Qualified: No. 7 (3.827 sec., 327.19 mph)

E1: Kalitta defeated by Crampton – 3.769 sec., 327.98 mph to 3.776 sec., 317.49 mph

Quotable: “We just lost a great race against our teammate in the first round. There is nothing for the Mac Tools team to hang our heads about. We will get ready for Las Vegas and try to pick up another win there.”

Point Standings: Fifth; leads Richie Crampton by 19 points for sixth; trails Tony Schumacher by 16 points for fourth

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Mechanical woes ends Todd’s day early

Race Recap: J.R. Todd’s Sunday efforts in Gainesville ended before it really began as a mechanical issues caused the parachutes to deploy during the burnout.

Todd’s solid qualifying performance continued at the Gatornationals. Todd earned another bonus point; he is one of only four drivers to own bonus points in all three races to start the year. He was able to earn the eighth starting spot, which continued his run of starting in the top half at every race this season. 

That led to Sunday, where he took on Del Worsham. The run was over with the issues with the parachutes, and Worsham took the solo run to the round win.

Qualified: No. 8 (3.962 sec., 326.40 mph) 

E1: Todd defeated by Worsham – No run to 4.013 sec., 324.75 mph

Quotable: “Having the parachutes deploy during the burnout is a very disappointing way to end our Gatornationals weekend. We will find the issue, fix it and have this DHL Camry ready for Las Vegas.” 

Point Standings: Eighth; leads Del Worsham by one point; tied with Jonnie Lindberg