Post-Race Report Event 13: Fallen Patriots NHRA Route 66 Nationals Route 66 Raceway Joliet, Ill.

Shawn Langdon Sunday

Shawn Langdon Sunday

Langdon gains ground on top ten 

Race Recap: After missing a shot in Norwalk, Shawn Langdon and the Global Electronic Technology team looked to cut the gap to the top ten in the standings in Chicago.

Qualifying was a strength for the Connie Kalitta and Rob Flynn-tuned machine as Langdon laid down the third best time in Friday’s evening session claiming a valuable bonus point. Langdon would eventually earn the sixth starting spot and another shot at Terry McMillen in the first round.

Langdon and McMillen were the final Top Fuel pair on the Route 66 surface. Langdon and McMillen left together, and Langdon steadily pulled away before McMillen suffered issues which clinched the round win for Langdon. 

That moved the Global Electronic Technology driver to the quarterfinals. Clay Millican was the opponent. Langdon got the jump on the line, but shortly after suffered dropped cylinders.  Langdon legged it to the stripe, but was defeated on a close race. Despite the exit in the quarterfinals, Langdon was able to cut his deficit to the top ten to less than four rounds. 

Qualified: No. 6 (3.759 sec., 319.37 mph) 

E1: Langdon defeated McMillen – 3.835 sec., 318.69 mph to 5.170 sec., 323.04 mph

E2: Langdon defeated by Millican – 3.909 sec., 309.91 mph to 3.888 sec., 314.61 mph

Quotable: “We lost a good drag race in the second round by ten-thousandth of a second. The numbers were close, but we had a cylinder go out early.  Obviously, we were hoping to run a better time. The good part about the weekend is that we were able to beat (Terry) McMillen in the first round and gain a round on him. We’re cutting the point gap. We have five races left and we’re a little more than three rounds out of tenth and just over four rounds out of ninth as well. The car is running better. We have a good race car, we just need to put together four good rounds on Sunday.”

Point Standings: 11th; trails Troy Coughlin Jr. by 69 points for 10th

JR Todd Sunday

Todd claims round win

Race Recap: The DHL team and J.R. Todd were looking for a bit of redemption after a tough four race swing. Todd had seen success in Chicago as he took his Top Fuel ride to the final just one season ago.

Qualifying did not go as planned for the DHL/WIX Filters Toyota Camry. Todd’s best was his first lap, a 4.062. That run was good enough for a top half start when it happened, but at the end of Saturday’s qualifying sessions it had been bumped to 14th.

Todd’s first opponent was Courtney Force, who Todd raced in the first round in Bristol. The driver of the DHL Toyota moved first and still held the lead when Force began to encounter troubles. Soon after, Todd’s DHL machine began to struggle as well, but Todd was able to pedal and get ahold of DHL Toyota and earn the round win. 

Todd’s second round opponent was Tommy Johnson Jr. After a thrash in the pits and an additional engine change for the DHL “Yella Fellas,” the team was able to make it to the line in time. Todd and Johnson Jr. left together, but the DHL Toyota quit just past the 660 cones and Johnson Jr. drove a clean lap for the win. 

Qualified: No. 14 (4.062 sec., 313.15 mph) 

E1: Todd defeated C. Force  – 4.480 sec., 242.71 mph to 5.680 sec., 135.61 mph

E2: Todd defeated by Johnson Jr. – 4.260 sec., 248.75 mph to 4.026 sec., 319.07 mph

Quotable: “We got a lucky break in the first round against Courtney, but then we paid for it in the second round when we broke a motor after the warm-up for the second round and had to change it. We barely got it back up there for the second round. We broke a belt and that was the end of our day. All in all, it was good to go a round and we maintained our spot in the top-10. I think we’re going in the right direction with both of our Funny Cars in terms of the tune-up. Now we need a good Western Swing to gain some points.”

Point Standings: Ninth; trails Tim Wilkerson by 40 points for eighth; leads Cruz Pedregon by 96 points for 10th

Doug Kalitta Sunday

Kalitta dealt first round defeat

Race Recap: With a solid final round appearance to close out the four race Eastern Swing, Doug Kalitta and the Mac Tools team came to Chicago looking to claim his first win of the season and first win at Route 66 Raceway since 2006.

Qualifying did not go the way the Mac Tools team would have liked as the Mac Tools Toyota Top Fuel machine never made a clean run to the line at tricky Route 66. Kalitta’s best would prove to be a 3.849 second pass at only 293mph in the final qualifying session that moved him to a top ten starting spot. 

However, even with the upward movement on the qualifying sheet, Kalitta was dealt a tough first round opponent in last year’s Top Fuel champion Antron Brown. Kalitta and Brown were close at the tree, but the Mac Tools machine saw immediate tire smoke and Brown made a clean pass to score the round win. 

Qualified: No. 10 (3.849 sec., 293.79 mph)

E1: Kalitta defeated by Brown – 6.478 sec., 152.78 mph to 3.776 sec., 322.42 mph

Quotable: “Tough way to end our Chicago weekend for this Mac Tools team. Not the result we were looking for. My guys are working hard and we will find the issue and be ready for Denver.”

Point Standings: Fifth; trails Tony Schumacher by 81 points for fourth; leads Brittany Force by 18 points for sixth

Tory Coughlin Jr Sunday 

Coughlin Jr. defeated in round one

Race Recap: Chicago had been a special race for many seasons for Troy Coughlin Jr. due to the JEGS All-Star event being run. This weekend would be even more special with Coughlin Jr. making his Top Fuel track debut behind the wheel of the SealMaster Toyota machine.

Coughlin Jr. earned his spot in the field with a 3.932 second pass at only 262mph in the Friday evening session, but it was not what the SealMaster crew was hoping for. After two more incomplete passes on Saturday, the driver of the SealMaster machine would earn the 15th starting spot and a first round draw of Leah Pritchett.

Coughlin’s day would end quickly on Sunday as Pritchett was able to drive to the win after the SealMaster machine dropped cylinders at the beginning of the run and suffered a mechanical failure down track. 

Qualified: No. 15 (3.932 sec., 262.08 mph) 

E1: Coughlin Jr. defeated by Pritchett – 3.968 sec., 279.50 mph to 3.858 sec., 294.18 mph

Quotable: “Frustrating weekend for sure. We are working hard and I totally trust my team. We are going to figure out the problems and come back stronger for Denver.

Point Standings: 10th; trails Scott Palmer by 16 points for ninth; leads Shawn Langdon by 69 points for 11th

Alexis DeJoria Sunday

DeJoria records round win with Sunday’s best elapsed time

Race Recap: The Tequila Patrón Toyota Camry Funny Car team proved to have one of the strongest cars on the property at the NHRA Route 66 Nationals. Alexis DeJoria was the only Funny Car pilot to power her 10,000-horsepower race car to three sub-four second qualifying passes, and one of only two drivers to run in the three second zone during Q3. The team’s strong performance awarded DeJoria two valuable bonus points and the No. 5 qualifying spot, her best starting position of 2017.
DeJoria went into race day facing Cruz Pedregon in a crucial first round matchup. Pedregon currently holds the No. 10 spot in the NHRA Funny Car rankings and had a 50-point lead on DeJoria entering the race weekend. It was imperative for Team Patrón to not only earn round win-points, but also prevent Pedregon from gaining any additional points on DeJoria. Their first round tune-up proved to be a force to be reckoned with, as DeJoria not only easily defeated Pedregon but also posted the lowest elapsed time of the session.
Team Patrón went into round two with the quickest car of race day and the advantage of lane choice versus Matt Hagan. Unfortunately, their day would be cut short as the Patrón Camry dropped a cylinder early in the run and Hagan was able to get the round win.

With the first round win, bonus points and top half qualifying effort, DeJoria was able to narrow the points gap from 50 to a mere 26 points out of the Top 10. She finds herself in a fierce five-way battle for the coveted tenth spot entering the last five races of NHRA’s regular season. 

Qualified: No. 5 (3.913 sec., 327.98 mph)

E1: DeJoria defeated Pedregon – 3.974 sec., 322.81 mph to 4.024 sec., 321.88 mph

E2: DeJoria defeated by Hagan – 4.399 sec., 210.67 mph to 4.006 sec., 319.60 mph

Point Standings: 14th; trails Del Worsham by 20 points for 13th