Post-Race Report Event 08: Menards NHRA Heartland Nationals Heartland Park Topeka Topeka, Kan.

Doug Kalitta Topeka Sunday

Doug Kalitta Topeka Sunday

Kalitta hits milestone in first round win

Race Recap: The Mac Tools team arrived in Heartland Park Topeka looking for a repeat in last year’s winning fortune.

Qualifying was uncharacteristically rough for the Mac Tools team and Doug Kalitta. They made one clean pass in the three available attempts after Friday evening’s session was cancelled due to weather. However, the one run was a good one as it earned Kalitta the seventh starting spot. 

The seventh starting spot meant a draw with the 10th seeded Scott Palmer. However, this was not just a normal round for Kalitta; this was the 1,000th time that he toed the line in eliminations. He is just the ninth driver in NHRA history to cross that milestone. This time, Kalitta moved first and led stripe-to-stripe taking his 601st career round win. 

Unfortunately, Kalitta’s attempt to repeat would end in the quarter-finals despite a class-best reaction time and the second-best run of the session as he was dealt a loss by points leader Leah Pritchett. 

Qualified: No. 7 (3.711 sec., 329.75 mph) 

E1: Kalitta defeated Palmer – 3.731 sec., 329.42 mph to 3.811 sec., 323.58 mph 

E2: Kalitta defeated by Pritchett – 3.731 sec., 330.96 mph to 3.708 sec., 325.92 mph

Quotable: “Very close finish today in the second round with this Mac Tools Toyota team. We definitely were looking for more round wins today. We are closing the gap and getting closer. The Mac Tools guys are looking for big things on this upcoming four-race swing.”

Point Standings: Fifth (-182); trails Antron Brown by 121 or 134 points for fourth; leads Clay Millican by 106 points for sixth

 Shawn Langdon Topeka Sunday

Langdon makes continues to make gains in Topeka

Race Recap: After hitting on some issues that had plagued the Global Electronic Technology team in Atlanta, Shawn Langdon was looking for the growth to continue in Topeka.

The Connie Kalitta and Rob Flynn-led team made three strong passes in qualifying nearly scoring bonus points in two of the three sessions. Their best pass, a 3.700, was Langdon’s best since taking over his Team Kalitta hot rod just four races ago.

Langdon’s first opponent was his Kalitta teammate, Troy Coughlin Jr. The duo left together, but the Global Electronic Technology team was making yet another solid lap to move them to the second round. That closed the gap again in the point standings and officially moved Langdon to 11th overall. 

Langdon was unable to score his first semi-final since joining the team as his ride suffered problems in the quarter-final matchup with reigning Top Fuel champion Antron Brown. 

Qualified: No. 6 (3.700 sec., 328.14 mph) 

E1: Langdon defeated Coughlin Jr. – 3.722 sec., 329.42 mph to 4.933 sec., 125.46 mph

E2: Langdon defeated by Brown – 4.736 sec., 179.21 mph to 4.026 sec., 275.90 mph

Quotable: “We had a great car in qualifying. Made a good run in the first round; in the second round, it warmed up a bit. It was tricky, because some of the cars were smoking the tires and others were making good runs. Antron was low elapsed time in the first round and they have the no.1 on the side of the car for a reason, so you have to give them credit and not back down the car. We didn’t, and unfortunately, it did not work out in our favor. We still feel very good about the Global Electronic Technology team going into Epping.”

Point Standings: 11th; trails Scott Palmer by 103 points for 10th

JO Todd Topeka Sunday 

Todd takes holeshot to a Topeka round win

Race Recap: After returning home from Atlanta, the DHL team discovered problems with the car that they had been campaigning, so the team brought out the back-up which had great memories for the team. It was the chassis that Del Worsham took to the 2015 title.

The team immediately noticed the difference as they made better runs each pass in qualifying with the final effort of 3.875 seconds nearing Todd’s Funny Car best. The Yella Fellas just missed lane choice and was seeded ninth overall. 

Todd and his opponent, Brian Stewart, were the last nitro pairing to see the Heartland Park Topeka surface. Todd moved first and took that advantage to the stripe claiming the holeshot win. 

Despite another starting line advantage, Todd was unable to get the quarter-final win over no.1 qualifier Matt Hagan. 

Qualified: No. 9 (3.875 sec., 332.34 mph) 

E1: Todd defeated Stewart – 3.938 sec., 329.58 mph to 3.930 sec., 322.96 mph (holeshot win) 

E2: Todd defeated by Hagan – 5.288 sec., 148.27 mph to 4.016 sec., 273.94 mph

Quotable: “We got our DHL Toyota back to where we wanted it to be pretty much all season, so now we will go back to work on getting a handle on the tune-up and making it more consistent so we can be ready for Epping.” 

Point Standings: Eighth (-370); trails Tommy Johnson Jr. by 86 points for seventh; leads Tim Wilkerson by 18 points for ninth

 Troy Coughlin Jr Topeka Sunday

Coughlin Jr. unable to get past teammate in first round

Race Recap: Coughlin Jr. and the SealMaster team continued learning in Michigan during the week off and looked to take advantage of that at Heartland Park Topeka. 

The first qualifying pass was solid as Coughlin Jr. went down the track in 3.809. However, the SealMaster team was unable to improve on that pass in the remaining two passes, and they moved down to 11th on the starting ladder and a draw with teammate Shawn Langdon in the first round.

Coughlin Jr. was solid on the tree with the SealMaster Toyota, but the machine suffered problems at the 300 foot mark and Langdon was able to score the round win.

Qualified: No. 11 (3.809 sec., 321.73 mph) 

E1: Coughlin Jr. defeated by Langdon – 4.933 sec., 125.46 mph to 3.722 sec., 329.42mph

Quotable: “We were aggressive with the tuneup and got in trouble at the 300 foot mark. All-in-all, it is coming around. We are getting data, keeping good notes and we hope we can have some more success with this SealMaster Toyota in the near future.” 

Point Standings: Ninth (-394); trails Terry McMillen by six points for eighth, leads Scott Palmer by 51 points for tenth

Chad Head Topeka Sunday 

Head suffers close loss in opening round

Race Recap: Interim driver Chad Head returned to the seat of the Tequila Patrón Toyota Camry for the third consecutive event. The team struggled with the early passes on Friday and Saturday, but was able to earn the 13th starting spot with a clean run in the final qualifying session.

Head’s first opponent was Jack Beckman. Beckman and Head both suffered problems with neither ride able to make a clean pass. Unfortunately for Head and the team Patrón, Beckman was able to get to the finish line first ending the Topeka race weekend for the team. 

Qualified: No. 13 (3.963 sec., 328.14 mph)

E1: Head defeated by Hight – 4.172 sec., 247.97 mph to 4.218 sec., 217.70 mph

Point Standings: (DeJoria) 14th; trails Cruz Pedregon by 49 points for 13th, leads Jeff Diehl by 95 points for 15th