Post-Race Report Event 18: NHRA U.S. Nationals Lucas Oil Raceway Indianapolis, Ind.

JR Monday

JR Monday

Todd wins Indy….again

Race Recap: J.R. Todd and the DHL/WIX Filters team won their second straight U.S. Nationals today.

Todd was the dominate car throughout the race weekend. He started the weekend with a 3.910 second pass that put him in the position to earn his first career no.1 qualifier. He followed that up with several more solid passes, and led the pack with 12 bonus points. He would earn his first pole for the DHL/WIX Filters team and become the 19th driver in NHRA history to earn no.1 qualifiers in both Top Fuel and Funny Car.

In the first round, Todd drew Jim Campbell. The DHL team, led by Jon Oberhofer and Todd Smith, tuned Todd to a stellar 3.996 second pass, which was the second best pass of the entire round to defeat Campbell. 

However, Todd drew the only man who beat him in the second round, Robert Hight. Hight was on the tree, but had issues. Todd did as well, but the DHL/WIX Filters Toyota Camry hit the line first moving Todd back to the semifinals. 

In the semifinals, Todd faced Tommy Johnson Jr. Todd again moved first, and the tune up was on point once again, as the DHL/WIX Filters machine blazed down the track in 4.045 seconds, which was low of the round.

That took Todd back to the final, this time against Matt Hagan, and Todd would not be denied his second straight U.S. Nationals trophy. He took the lead by the time they passed the Christmas Tree and never looked back. Todd became just the sixth driver to score back-to-back wins at Indy and keeps his Indy record in a Funny Car to perfect. 

Qualified: No. 1 (3.910 sec., 325.42 mph) 

E1: Todd defeated Campbell – 3.996 sec., 315.42 mph to 4.234 sec., 259.71 mph

E2: Todd defeated Hight – 4.160 sec., 286.32 mph to 4.614 sec., 212.53 mph

E3: Todd defeated Johnson Jr. – 4.045 sec., 312.21 mph to 4.130 sec., 278.98 mph

E4: Todd defeated Hagan – 4.062 sec., 311.70 mph to 4.141 sec., 300.60 mph

Quotable: (Tell us about running the gauntlet on race day against Robert Hight, Tommy Johnson and Matt Hagan)
“I don’t know what it is about running against Robert. At Brainerd, he had a .020-something light and today he had an .019 light. Are you kidding me? He’s a bad dude on the starting line and those guys have the number one on the side of the car for a reason. I fully expected it to be a big-time match-up and the track just seemed to go away for everybody and we ended up blowing the tires off there. I expected him to go driving by any second. Then, I looked up and the win light was on and it surprised me. Tommy ran really well in testing last week. That team has definitely turned the corner the last couple of races. Then you never count out Matt Hagan and those guys. They’ve won championships and won this race before. I didn’t know what to think about the final round. To look up and see the win light come on, it was hard to believe. We were fortunate enough to keep it running down the middle all day for the most part. Hopefully that’s a good sign for us coming into the Countdown.”
(Have you ever had a car this dominant over an entire weekend with the pole, 12 bonus points in qualifying and the win?)
“I don’t think we had a dominant car. Tommy Johnson made some really good runs in the heat and Courtney Force made a really good run against us in Q4. In the back of my mind, I knew there were other teams that could go out there and out-run us. Robert Hight went 3.98 in the first round. I’m still kind of blown away on how the day turned out for us.”
(How does it feel to win a second U.S. Nationals title?)
“I’m just happy to get a win here. The Funny Car division is so tough out here. We came out really strong this spring, then really fell off in the summer. Before this race, we made some pretty big changes going into the Indy test – in some ways going back to the old ways of running the DHL Toyota Camry. It’s really got my confidence up as a driver. I was in a bad mood for about two months because we really weren’t doing so well. I’m really thankful to be able to come out and race for a living. I don’t think I’ve ever been this happy throughout an entire weekend at a national event. From day one, I felt like we could come out here and win. In Brainerd, we ran really well in the semi-finals against Tommy Johnson and I felt like I let the team down by not doing my job on the starting line. So I went to the gym and worked on my reaction time and just got myself in the right frame of mind coming in to the U.S. Nationals. I think we’ve got the ball rolling in the right direction. We’re definitely not peaking. I think we’re on the rise. This gives us a lot of confidence heading into the Countdown. We know we can run with these guys now.” 
Point Standings: Fifth; leads with Jack Beckman by 10 points for sixth; trails Ron Capps by 10 points for fourth

Doug Monday 

Kalitta advances to the final

Race Recap: Doug Kalitta advanced to his third Indianapolis final today.

Qualifying did not yield any clean passes for the new look Mac Tools machine, but Kalitta was still able to earn a solid starting spot with a 3.824 second pass in Friday’s evening run.

On raceday, the Mac Tools team was ready. With a tough first round draw of Leah Pritchett, Kalitta moved first and never looked back. Kalitta had a big boomer at the stripe, but he still had enough to score the round win. 

In the quarterfinals, Kalitta faced another Don Schumacher Racing machine in Antron Brown. Again, Kalitta’s Mac Tools team didn’t get to the line pretty, but he did get to the final first in 4.089 seconds, which was easily enough to defeat Brown.

In the semifinals, Kalitta’s Mac Tools team were on point. With track temperatures nearing 130 degrees, Kalitta made a clean run, but more important he moved first. His reaction time advantage came into play and gave him the round win. 

It was Kalitta’s third final round appearance in Indianapolis, and first since 2008. 

In the final, Kalitta drew Terry McMillen. Kalitta’s Mac Tools ride got the jump at the starting line, but McMillen took the lead early. Kalitta nearly tracked him back down, but came up just short in the final.

Qualified: No. 11 (3.824 sec., 305.77 mph)

E1: Kalitta defeated Pritchett – 3.888 sec., 273.44 mph to 5.580 sec., 125.12 mph

E2: Kalitta defeated Brown – 4.089 sec., 249.90 mph to 6.903 sec., 104.84 mph

E3: Kalitta defeated B. Torrence – 3.939 sec., 307.02 mph to 3.947 sec., 299.86 mph

Final: Kalitta defeated by McMillen – 4.067 sec., 303.57 mph to 4.037 sec., 300.66 mph

Quotable: “This is one I want very badly, so this is a bittersweet ending for this Mac Tools team. I am so proud of their effort and work this weekend; we almost had it.”

Point Standings: Fifth; leads Antron Brown by one point for sixth; trails Leah Pritchett by 91 points for fourth

Shawn Monday 

Langdon clinches Countdown spot with solid U.S. Nationals performance

Race Recap: Shawn Langdon’s Global Electronic Technology team had a great U.S. Nationals weekend in the special scheme honoring the Mongoose.

In qualifying, Langdon made several clean passes. His best came in the lone Friday night session, but Langdon’s Global Electronic Technology team closed with three solid runs, scoring bonus points in each of them. That helped him gap the 11th spot by over two rounds going into raceday.

In the first round, Langdon faced Cruz Pedregon, who was fighting for his Countdown life. However, Pedregon suffered woes and did not move once the tree dropped. Langdon made the third-best run of the session and advanced to the second round.

In the quarterfinals, Langdon faced the upset-minded Bob Bode. He was away first, and led the entire way to move to another semifinal finish. That moved Langdon up the eighth seed in the Countdown. 

In the semifinals, Langdon drew Matt Hagan. Langdon again got the jump at the line in his Global Electronic Technology Toyota Camry, but Hagan was able to track him down and move to the finals.

Qualified: No. 7 (3.961 sec., 325.22 mph) 

E1: Langdon defeated Pedregon – 4.051 sec., 314.31 mph to 25.188 sec., 46.45 mph

E2: Langdon defeated Bode – 4.246 sec., 249.72 mph to 4.549 sec., 196.27 mph

E3: Langdon defeated by Hagan – 4.148 sec., 307.16 mph to 4.129 sec., 298.60 mph

Quotable: “The Global Electronic Technology Camry guys did a great job. I felt like I was driving good. We had a good car in qualifying.  Things were just kind of going our way, then bummer. Here again, four races in a row now, that we lose by a minimal amount – this time by ten one-thousandths of a second. Nothing to really hang our heads about. We were in a tough spot. We were hurrying as the round before we had a big fire and had to rewire a lot of things and put in a new motor. So we were in a big rush. We just went a little bit too conservative.  In hindsight, we should have run faster. But now we have a little more information moving forward. All in all, going to the semis at the U.S. Nationals is not a bad day.”

Point Standings: Eighth; leads John Force by 10 points for 10th; trails Tommy Johnson Jr. by 10 points for eighth

Richie Sunday

Crampton falls short of Countdown berth

Race Recap: Richie Crampton and the CRAFTSMAN team fell in the first round of the U.S. Nationals and missed the Countdown for the Championship cut.

Qualifying ended with the CRAFTSMAN driver’s best qualifying pass, as a 3.840 second run clinched Crampton’s spot in the stout U.S. Nationals field and gave Crampton two bonus points at his run at a Countdown berth. After a penalty for a competitor, Crampton entered raceday four points to the good.

However, in the first round versus Clay Millican, Crampton left first, but Millican pulled head. Crampton hit tire smoke and could not catch him. With Mike Salinas scoring the round win in the pair behind the CRAFTSMAN team, Crampton was eliminated from championship contention.

Qualified: No. 15 (3.840 sec., 320.74mph) 

E1: Crampton defeated by Millican – 4.486sec., 218.12 mph to 3.821 sec., 321.88 mph

Quotable: “We did not meet our goal for the weekend, which is disappointing. I am still very proud of my entire CRAFTSMAN team. We will go to these last six races, help Doug as much as we can and try to steal some wins.”

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