Kalitta makes the Norwalk final
Race Recap: After suffering a tough first round loss to his teammate in Bristol, Doug Kalitta was looking for redemption at his home track.
The redemption started early. Kalitta earned five of the possible six bonus points in resetting his own track elapsed time record with a 3.709 second pass on Friday evening. This time, Kalitta’s run would hold through Saturday’s qualifying efforts and Kalitta would have his first no.1 qualifier of the season and 48th of his career. It was his third straight and fourth in the last five seasons at Norwalk.
Kalitta would start race day in his Mac Tools ride versus the 16th qualifier Troy Buff. Kalitta and Buff left together, but the Mac Tools ride started pulling away early and clinched the first round win with the best elapsed time of the first round to give him lane choice over Tony Schumacher in the quarterfinals.
In their 85th career matchup, Kalitta’s Mac Tools Toyota and Schumacher were side-by-side early, but Jim Oberhofer, crew chief of the Mac Tools machine, had the right tune-up in place as Kalitta would again score the best elapsed time of the session and he would advance to the semi-finals with lane choice versus Leah Pritchett.
Kalitta got the jump on Pritchett and never looked back. The Mac Tools ride recorded a 3.768 second pass to defeat Pritchett’s 3.800. That moved Kalitta to the final for the second time this season and third time at his home track. He was stopped in the final in 2013 and scored his first Norwalk win in 2015.
Kalitta’s final opponent was point leader Steve Torrence. It was a close race throughout the run but the win light would illuminate on Torrence’s side of the track as he would get to the line four thousandths of a second before Kalitta’s Mac Tools ride did.
Qualified: No. 1 (3.709 sec., 327.43 mph) **TRACK RECORD ET**
E1: Kalitta defeated Buff – 3.749 sec., 329.99 mph to 8.421 sec., 82.77 mph
E2: Kalitta defeated Schumacher – 3.782 sec., 325.85 mph to 4.099 sec., 232.03 mph
E3: Kalitta defeated Pritchett – 3.768 sec., 328.62 mph to 3.800 sec., 314.46 mph
Final: Kalitta defeated by Torrence – 3.736 sec., 331.36 mph to 3.743 sec., 331.45 mph
Quotable: “Definitely disappointed to come up that close and not get the win for Mac Tools, Toyota and all of our great supporters. It felt great to run that strong all weekend, and I am confident the win is coming soon.”
Point Standings: Fifth; trails Tony Schumacher by 75 points for fourth; leads Brittany Force by 47 points for sixth
Langdon suffers close first round loss
Race Recap: Defending Norwalk race winner Shawn Langdon came into this season’s running with momentum after a semi-final effort one race ago in Bristol.
Friday qualifying did not go the way the Global Electronic Technology team would have preferred as Langdon sat outside the qualified field going into Saturday. However, Langdon recorded two stellar passes on Saturday earning bonus points for his best, a 3.799, in the final session. The Global Electronic Technology Toyota would slot themselves in the 10th position for race day.
Langdon’s first opponent was the man who held the 10th position in the standings coming into the race weekend, Terry McMillen. McMillen and Langdon were close at every timing mark down the track, but unfortunately, the Global Electronic Technology team needed a few more feet as they got to the line second by just seven thousandths of a second.
Qualified: No. 10 (3.799 sec., 320.66 mph)
E1: Langdon defeated by McMillen – 3.787 sec., 324.90 mph to 3.806 sec., 323.04 mph
Quotable: “It is just a bummer. Had a good car and it ran really well on Saturday. We made a great run first round. Not a good light by my standards. In qualifying, I was .050s to mid-.060s, and that was a .062; sometimes people take shots at the tree, and he took a shot, it stuck and we lost by seven thousandths of a second. It sucks. I am bummed for the Global Electronic Technology team because they did an excellent job this weekend. I’ll take this week off to get my head right and come back for Chicago.”
Point Standings: 11th; trails Scott Palmer by 108 points for 10th
Coughlin Jr. falls in the first round
Race Recap: With many friends and family around, Delaware, Ohio native Troy Coughlin Jr. had Norwalk marked on his calendar for months.
The first three sessions of qualifying did not lead to the desired results for the SealMaster team as they set on the outside of the qualified field with one lap remaining. However, that did not faze the rookie driver as his last pass was clean and straight down the Norwalk surface. The 3.894 second run was good enough for the 14th qualified position.
Unfortunately, the problems returned for the SealMaster driver in the first round of eliminations against Steve Torrence as Coughlin Jr.’s machine fell to near-immediate tire smoke. Coughlin Jr. pedaled, but Torrence was making a clean pass and he took that to the round win.
Qualified: No. 14 (3.894 sec., 313.37 mph)
E1: Coughlin Jr. defeated by Torrence – 8.501 sec., 87.48 mph to 3.786 sec., 326.32 mph
Quotable: “It is what it is. We are testing tomorrow and are going to make sure we have the SealMaster Toyota ready for Chicago.”
Point Standings: Ninth; trails Terry McMillen by 13 points for eighth; tied with Scott Palmer for 10th
Todd sees progress despite early defeat
Race Recap: At the halfway mark of the season, J.R. Todd and the DHL team wanted to continue to show progress with the new tune-up on the DHL Toyota Camry.
The Camry was on a strong run in the lone evening session and then made two clean passes on Saturday, although they were not as quick as DHL co-crew chiefs Jon Oberhofer and Todd Smith would have liked. The DHL team just missed getting their hot rod in the three-second bracket as their 4.002 second pass in the final Saturday qualifying session gave Todd the 12th spot on the qualifying sheet and a first round draw of Tommy Johnson Jr.
Todd was away first with yet another solid reaction time. The DHL Toyota was clean to the stripe, but was unable to defeat Johnson Jr., who laid down one of the top three passes of the session. The DHL team will continue to learn tomorrow as they make several laps in testing.
Qualified: No. 12 (4.002 sec., 320.89 mph)
E1: Todd defeated by Johnson Jr. – 4.032 sec., 318.69 mph to 3.942 sec., 322.34 mph
Quotable: “We just didn’t have enough in the first round for T.J. He ran a good lap. We just got behind after Friday. It was running really good then, and then the track got hot yesterday. Today, the first round was pretty good; we just didn’t have enough. We will make some runs on Monday and hopefully get this DHL Toyota figured out by Chicago.”
Point Standings: Ninth; trails Tim Wilkerson by 17 points for eighth; leads Cruz Pedregon by 77 points for 10th
DeJoria gains on top ten in the standings with round win
Race Recap: For the second week in a row, the Patrón team earned a spot in the top half of the qualifying field, starting Sunday seeded seventh. Three solid qualifying passes not only yielded the advantage of lane choice going into the first round of eliminations, but also a bonus point.
DeJoria’s first round matchup found her squaring off against former teammate and crew chief, Del Worsham. DeJoria had no trouble racing her way into round two, as her 3.972-second pass easily defeated Worsham’s tire smoking effort.
Unfortunately, DeJoria’s day would end at the quarterfinals. The Patrón Toyota Camry overpowered the track before the 660-foot cone, and her opponent Robert Hight was able to cross the finish line first and advance to the semifinals.
Despite the early exit, DeJoria was successful in gaining ground on the Top 10 points rankings, closing the margin from 70 to 50 points.
Qualified: No. 7 (3.943 sec., 318.77 mph)
E1: DeJoria defeated Worsham – 3.972 sec., 324.75 mph to 7.528 sec., 98.54 mph
E2: DeJoria defeated by Hight – 4.741 sec., 180.16 mph to 3.978 sec., 321.73 mph
Point Standings: 14th; trails Jim Campbell by 28 points for 13th