Post-Race Report Event 19: NHRA Nationals Maple Grove Raceway Reading, Pa.

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Todd goes back-to-back and secures the 100th career victory for Kalitta Motorsports

Race Recap: J.R. Todd and the DHL/WIX Filters team decided that the accolades wouldn’t stop with back-to-back Indianapolis victories, as they won their second consecutive event of the season and secured the 100th career victory for Kalitta Motorsports in the process.

Unlike in Indianapolis, Todd did not dominate throughout qualifying, as he entered eliminations eighth in the qualifying order after four consistent passes: two passes in the low four-second range and two runs around 3.9.

In the first round of eliminations, Todd lined up against Bob Tasca. The DHL team, led by Jon Oberhofer and Todd Smith, tuned Todd to a 3.982-second pass, which was the fourth-best pass of the entire round to give him the victory against Tasca’s red light. 

In the second round, Todd lined up with No. 16 qualifier Mike Smith who had upset the top qualifier in the class, Courtney Force, in round one. Although Smith was quicker on the tree, Todd’s 3.996 run turned out to be too much as the DHL team took the round win and head to the semifinals. 

In the semis, Todd matched up with Ron Capps, and this time was able to beat his opponent off the line. The DHL/WIX Filters team powered down the track to a run of 3.975 seconds, which was best of the round and earned the victory against Capps.

That brought Todd back to his second consecutive final and the fourth of the season, as he was slated to face-off against Tim Wilkerson, and Todd was again the stronger of the pair as he brought home his second straight event win and fourth of the season. Todd was first off the tree and held the lead for the entirety of the race. Todd improved to 6-0 in final rounds in his Funny Car career as he took over the points lead with five races remaining on the 2018 schedule. 

Qualified: No. 8 (3.947 sec., 322.50 mph) 

E1: Todd defeated Tasca – 3.982 sec., 321.50 mph to a red light start

E2: Todd defeated Smith – 3.996 sec., 316.82 mph to 10.655 sec., 75.64 mph

E3: Todd defeated Capps – 3.975 sec., 320.28 mph to 4.014 sec., 315.12 mph

E4: Todd defeated Wilkerson – 3.972 sec., 319.90 mph to 4.196 sec., 249.95 mph

Quotable: (Tell us about winning your second event in a row and taking the Countdown points lead.)
“It’s awesome to keep the momentum going, but we still have a long road ahead of us. These DHL/Wix Filter Toyota guys know how to win. A lot of them were here when Del Worsham won the title in 2015. I just want to keep winning and keep our foot on their throats. We got some gifts early on today with some of the cars in front of us going out early. It was nice to be able to come out of here with a win and gain on everyone in the Countdown. Now we just need to keep it going through St. Louis.”
(How has the team approached the Countdown?)
“They’re racing smart. It goes back to the TRD guys and Chad Head who are checking the track for us and giving us the grip numbers. That’s key for us. We’re just racing what the track will allow us. We definitely didn’t have the best car this weekend, but I felt like we had a really good car and my guys are racing smart and not beating ourselves. You have to go down the track to win these things. This weekend, we murdered a bunch of parts and had a number of dumb things happen that don’t normally occur. The guys had some late nights Friday and Saturday and it was nice to be able to pay them back on Sunday with another win.”
(You had four consecutive runs in the three-second range today, talk about that consistency)
“The consistency of this DHL/Wix Filters Toyota has really come around since the semifinals in Brainerd. We struggled throughout the summer and made some changes before Indy that really paid off going to the U.S. Nationals and then coming here. This Camry was really consistent. We made some good runs in qualifying, but we still should have run better than what we did due to the parts breaking, so we knew that we had a car that was capable of running with the top cars out here. We had one qualifying run that would have been in the low 3.90s, but we didn’t make it to the finish line under power, so that got our confidence up heading into the day.”
Point Standings: First; leads Robert Hight by 23 points atop the class standings

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Kalitta falls in quarterfinals

Race Recap: Despite four consistent runs in qualifying to start off the weekend, Kalitta was unable to build off the momentum of his runner-up finish in Indianapolis.

Three out of four of Kalitta’s runs this weekend were under the four-second mark, and he entered Sunday as the No. 8 qualifier matched up against teammate Richie Crampton.

The Mac Tools team was ready for the challenge, and took down Crampton with a 3.805 run as Crampton’s car struggled to a 6.883-second pass.

In the quarterfinals, Kalitta faced off with the No. 1 qualifier Clay Millican. Millican continued his strong weekend with a 3.810 run and took down Kalitta, who went into tire smoke and slowed to a 4.475 pass.

Kalitta was aiming for his first win at Maple Grove Raceway since 2002, and now enters the St. Louis event sixth in the points standings.

Qualified: No. 8 (3.790 sec., 326.63 mph)

E1: Kalitta defeated Crampton – 3.805 sec., 323.74 mph to 6.883 sec., 62.61 mph

E2: Kalitta defeated by Millican – 4.475 sec., 183.82 mph to 3.810 sec., 323.27 mph

Quotable: “We had a real consistent car all weekend, but got a tough draw and Clay made a stout run. We will regroup and be ready to pick up some more points next weekend in St. Louis.”

Point Standings: Sixth; leads Mike Salinas by 36 points for seventh; trails Antron Brown by 13 points for fifth

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Langdon falls against Hight in first round at Maple Grove

Race Recap: Shawn Langdon’s Global Electronic Technology team were unable to get locked in throughout the weekend, and fell in the first round of eliminations on Sunday in Reading.

After a strong run in Q2 on Friday, Langdon was unable to put together another clean pass in Saturday’s qualifying. His 3.944 at 327.90 was enough to land in the No. 6 spot in the qualifying order, where he was slated to match-up with Robert Hight in eliminations.

In the first round, Langdon was unable to get off the tree first, as his .049 off the line came up a bit short versus Hight’s .026. The Global Electronic Technology team ended up with a 4.015, which was not enough to turn on the win light, as Langdon failed to reach the second round for the first time in the past four events.

He enters the second race of the Countdown 10th in the standings.

Qualified: No. 6 (3.944 sec., 327.90 mph) 

E1: Langdon defeated by Hight – 4.015 sec., 322.50 mph to 3.941 sec., 325.63 mph

Quotable: “We had a tough draw with Robert [Hight], and he made a great run. We were a little slower than we thought we should have been. I was happy with my light, and we would have won a majority of the other rounds but it was just bad luck. Robert had a good guess at the tree and made a great run for low E.T. of the round, so it’s just part of drag racing and we will head to the next race and try to keep improving our car.”

Point Standings: Tenth; trails John Force by 10 points for ninth

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Crampton knocked out in first round at Reading

Race Recap: Richie Crampton and his CRAFTSMAN crew fell in round one at Reading against teammate Doug Kalitta.

Qualifying ended with Crampton in the ninth qualifying spot, as a 3.791 second run was almost enough to move into the top half of the field. 

In his first round matchup with Kalitta, Crampton left first, but smoked the tired and Doug pulled head. Crampton was unable to track down his teammate and will now aim to get back on track in St. Louis next weekend.

Qualified: No. 9 (3.791 sec., 316.30 mph) 

E1: Crampton defeated by Kalitta – 6.883 sec., 62.61 mph to 3.805 sec., 323.74 mph

Quotable: “We had an unfortunate matchup racing our teammate in the first round, and this team was definitely going for it. Something didn’t work right and we had to replace our motor before we went out there so it was a bit of a rough day for us. We will get after it again in St. Louis.”