Post-Race Report Event 18: U.S. Nationals Indianapolis Raceway Park Brownsburg, Ind.

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Todd Wins Nationals.jpg

Todd wins the U.S. Nationals

Race Recap: J.R. Todd and the DHL/WIX Filters team claimed the U.S. Nationals win today. 

After an outstanding test session where a lot was learned, co-crew chiefs Jon Oberhofer and Todd Smith had a great handle on the DHL Toyota in the opening qualifying session as they just missed bonus points with a career-best 3.865 second elapsed time. That run would keep Todd in the top half of the show all weekend, and eventually seeded him sixth.

In the first round, Todd faced Brian Stewart. Todd got a jump at the starting line, and never looked back as the DHL Toyota led from the starting line to the finish line. That moved Todd to the final eight and a quarterfinal draw of Cruz Pedregon. 

Todd was simply stellar on the tree in the quarterfinals against Pedregon. Recording a .046 reaction time, Todd scored not only the best reaction time of the round; he scored the best reaction time of day. Todd took that advantage and went straight to the finish line and into the semi-finals with a close win over Pedregon.

The semi-finals proved to be wild for Todd. For the third time of the day, Todd got a jump on the starting line over his foe Tim Wilkerson. Todd was pulling away before the DHL Toyota suffered tire smoke. Wilkerson got ahead, but was struggling with his Funny Car. He eventually would drive it over the center line and hit two cones. That resulted in a DNQ, and a trip to the finals for Todd and the DHL team. 

Todd’s final round opponent was defending NHRA Champion Ron Capps. Todd got out ahead and never looked back. With a 3.923 second pass, Todd scored his first U.S. Nationals trophy and second win of the year. It is the 11th of his career and his first at Indianapolis.

Qualified: No. 6 (3.939 sec., 326.00 mph) 

  • E1: Todd defeated Stewart  – 3.914 sec., 329.02 mph to 4.641 sec., 174.55 mph
  • E2: Todd defeated Pedregon – 3.949 sec., 326.00 mph to 3.970 sec., 325.30 mph
  • E3: Todd defeated Wilkerson – No time to DNQ (center line violation) 
  • E4: Todd defeated Capps – 3.923 sec., 325.61 mph to 3.949 sec., 325.53 mph

Quotable: “I’ve been coming here since I was a kid, watching all these guys. This is where it all started for me. I grew up racing here. We got a junior dragster at the end of 1992. In 1993 it was my first season and we would pit right behind the Top Eliminators Club. I grew up racing here weekly and almost won the track championship.  I remember coming here as a kid and watching Ron Capps and to be racing him in the final round at Indy – it’s too surreal.  This is the one you always dream of winning. I’ve been coming here since 2006 and to finally win in Funny Car, which I think is the toughest of all the Mello Yello Series classes, is just unreal.

In Denver, we switched up what we were doing and knew we were on the right path, then we took it into Sonoma and started chipping away at it.  It really showed that the performance of the car was coming around. We really messed up at Seattle. What helped us the most was the test session here last week. We tried some new things and ran really well on Thursday evening. That helped produce that 3.86 in qualifying on Friday night, which was huge for us because it got us the top. That’s where we’ve been struggling all year and getting some bad draws in the first round.  It helped us get in the top half and get lane choice. 
We knew we had something to work with in the first round and the DHL Toyota team plugged it in and those guys are (really good) on race day. They showed they’ve got what it takes to come out and compete with the best.  If you win Indy, you know you’ve beaten the best in the sport.  

 “Everybody gets so tensed up for this race. It’s like walking through eggshells throughout the entire pit area. It draws in all kinds of people. For me, living five minutes away from here. I can hear when guys are testing here when nobody knows about it and come watch and report back to Michigan (where Kalitta team is based).  I have a lot of family and friends here. It can be distracting, but you try to treat it like any other race, but it’s not like any other race. When it comes to race day, you’ve got to be on your game.”

 “We have a shot in the Countdown. We’re starting eighth after a little battle with Tim Wilkerson. You want to be as close as you can entering the Countdown, so one spot closer is always good. These DHL Toyota guys showed in 2015, you’ve just got to get hot at the right time.  If we can get on a terror like those guys did in 2015 – and I feel we can compete with these guys out here.  When it comes to the cool conditions in qualifying, the guys at JFR and DSR can throw down those big numbers and we aren’t quite there yet. On raceday they’ve shown it’s a different story, especially when the sun comes out and it gets hot. I knew it was going to be hot today and I was excited about it. I thought it played into our hands because you can’t throw out those 3.79s or 3.80s in conditions like today. So if the Countdown is in conditions like this the rest of the year – and I hope that it is – I really think we can run with these guys.  I think our DHL Toyota Camry is going in the right direction at the right time of year – and now it’s time to let it all hang out for the next six races.”

“It feels awesome to hold this Wally. I think anyone in the pit area would tell you if they haven’t won Indy that they’d give up any win to get this one trophy. There are guys out here who have won championships, but have never won Indy and I think that weighs on them. A lot of my heroes, especially in Funny Cars, have won Indy and to be on the list with them feels awesome. We’ve checked it off the list and now the goal is to win that championship.”

Point Standings: Eighth; trails John Force by 10 points for seventh; leads Tim Wilkerson by 10 points for ninth

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Kalitta defeated in close quarterfinal race

Race Recap: Doug Kalitta and the Mac Tools team earned a round win earlier today at the U.S. Nationals.

The Mac Tools team were extremely solid in qualifying as Kalitta claimed seven bonus points in the first three sessions. Kalitta would eventually earn the fifth starting spot and a first round draw of his new teammate, Richie Crampton.

In the first round, Kalitta and Crampton would leave side-by-side, but Kalitta’s Mac Tools machine dropped a cylinder early on. However, Crampton encountered issues, and Kalitta was able to drive back around and claim the round win.

However, Kalitta would earn only one round win at this edition of the U.S. Nationals. He got the jump on Tony Schumacher in the second round, but Schumacher was able to drive back around and earn the round win. 

Qualified: No. 5 (3.682 sec., 329.42 mph)

  • E1: Kalitta defeated Crampton – 3.874 sec., 315.56 mph to 4.084 sec., 207.75 mph
  • E2: Kalitta defeated by Schumacher – 3.757 sec., 325.30 mph to 3.734 sec., 328.78 mph

Quotable: “Very frustrating to end our U.S. Nationals with a early loss. However, we did move up in the standings which was a goal. We have a great Mac Tools machine for the Countdown and I know we will be one to watch for this title.”

Point Standings: Fifth; trails Tony Schumacher by 10 points for fourth; leads Brittany Force by 10 points for sixth

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Langdon takes first round with stellar reaction time

Race Recap: Shawn Langdon claimed his spot in the run for the championship earlier today in Indianapolis.

Langdon and the Global Electronic Technology team were solid in early runs of qualifying before pushing the limits to two tire smoking runs on Sunday. However, Langdon celebrated his birthday with a top ten starting spot as the Global Electronic Technology machine was seeded ninth. 

Langdon and his first round foe, Brittany Force, were the final pair of Top Fuel eliminations and Langdon was focused as he was able get over three hundredths of a second advantage on the starting line. Force closed, but she was unable to make up the distance and Langdon and the Global Electronic Technology team scored the holeshot round win.  

Unfortunately for Langdon, his U.S. Nationals run would end in the quarterfinals. Langdon was neck-and-neck with his opponent, Kebin Kinsley, before hitting tire smoke and Kinsley was able to drive to round win. 

Qualified: No. 9 (3.748 sec., 265.43 mph) 

  • E1: Langdon defeated Force – 3.756 sec., 325.69 mph to 3.724 sec., 329.02 mph (Holeshot win)
  • E2: Langdon defeated by Kinsley – 4.238 sec., 229.47 mph to 3.757 sec., 322.96 mph

Quotable: “We just didn’t do a good job in the second round. We had a good Global Electronic Technology machine. We went through qualifying with some motor issues, but we made a good run in the first round and won a great race against Brittany Force. In the second round, we had a good opportunity to move on, but didn’t do it. It is a bummer; this is the biggest race of the year. We wanted to do better, but I still feel very confident we have a good race car for the Countdown.” 

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

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Crampton pleased with debut weekend with the SealMaster team

Race Recap: After joining the SealMaster team at the beginning of the week, the U.S. Nationals has been quite the whirlwind for Richie Crampton.

After getting Crampton fitted for the seat on Tuesday, the SealMaster team arrived to Indianapolis focused on starting his tenure with Kalitta strong.

They ran well in qualifying as Crampton set his new career-best MPH just two laps into the weekend at nearly 330 mph. At the close of five qualifying passes, Crampton and the SealMaster team were seeded 12th with a first round draw of his teammate, Doug Kalitta.

Kalitta and Crampton left together, but Crampton was able to nose ahead before encountering problems past half track and yielding the round win to Kalitta. 

Qualified: No. 12 (3.756 sec., 329.91 mph) 

  • E1: Crampton defeated by Kalitta – 4.084 sec., 207.75 mph to 3.874 sec., 315.56 mph

Quotable: “It felt great to be back driving for the legend Connie Kalitta, Toyota and SealMaster.  To drive again is once thing, but to get the call to drive for such a high-caliber team is icing on the cake. It’s pretty cool to get things rolling here at Indy and, hopefully, we can finish out the year strong for everybody. I’m extremely comfortable in the car. These guys build great stuff. Their Bounty Hunter chassis are fantastic. The young team we have is doing a great job. I think the performance is right there and any weekend we are ready to turn the corner and really show them just how good this SealMaster/Toyota car run. I’m pretty excited for Charlotte. Hopefully, these fall races where it’s getting cooler will show how fast this team can run.”

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DeJoria falls in the first round, fails to make Countdown

Race Recap: After making four solid runs throughout qualifying, two of them bonus point- worthy, Alexis DeJoria and her Tequila Patrón Toyota Camry Funny Car team qualified ninth for the prestigious NHRA U.S. Nationals.
While they successfully maintained their 10th ranked position in NHRA’s Countdown to the Championship going into race day, a mere 15 points separated DeJoria and 11th ranked Countdown hopeful Cruz Pedregon. The 12th – 14th ranked drivers, although less of a threat, also had an outside chance of bumping DeJoria out. Securing the coveted 10th spot and having an opportunity to race for the 2017 NHRA Funny Car championship would come down to Monday’s elimination rounds.
DeJoria and her Patrón team were the final pair to run in the opening round of eliminations. While they waited for their matchup with Ron Capps, Team Patrón watched as three out of the four Countdown aspirants hungry for that final tenth spot, including Pedregon, defeated their opponents.  
With Pedregon’s round win, he moved up to the No. 10 spot and bumped DeJoria back to 11th. Team Patrón’s matchup with Capps was now a must-win round in order for DeJoria to still have a shot at qualifying for the Countdown. 
DeJoria powered her Patrón Camry down the Indianapolis strip in 3.901-seconds at 331.94-mph. Despite having the fourth best run of the round, it wasn’t enough to stave off Capps’ 3.880, and Team Patrón would not advance to round two. The loss also meant DeJoria and the Patrón team would not qualify for the 2017 NHRA Countdown to the Championship. While they will not chase a Championship this year, DeJoria and Team Patrón look forward to playing spoiler, and more round wins before the conclusion of the season. 

Qualified: No. 9 (3.881 sec., 332.02 mph)

  • E1: DeJoria defeated by Capps – 3.901 sec., 331.94 mph to 3.880 sec., 328.54 mph