Todd rebounds in Gateway
Race Recap: After a rough start to the Countdown in Charlotte, Todd and the SealMaster team were looking to go rounds at Gateway Motorsports Park.
After just missing out on the bonus points in both the second and third qualifying sessions, Todd laid down a stellar pass in the final qualifying pass. Crew chiefs Connie Kalitta and Rob Flynn guided Todd to a 3.750 second pass that bumped Todd all the way up to the third qualified spot and two bonus points.
Todd’s first opponent was Kyle Wurtzel. Wurtzel, competing in his fourth event of the season, made some solid passes to get his way into the 16-car qualified field. However, Todd got off of the line first and continued to drive away from Wurtzel scoring his first 2016 Countdown round win. Todd and the SealMaster team did not end there. They exacted a little revenge on the driver that took them out just one week ago: Pat Dakin. Todd’s SealMaster Toyota Top Fuel dragster ran 3.798, which was enough to get around Dakin’s 3.827. That sent Todd to his seventh semi-final or better in the last nine events.
Unfortunately for the SealMaster team, the semi-finals are were it ended. Todd had a solid reaction time off of the starting line, but his opponent, Tony Schumacher, steadily pulled away stopping the SealMaster driver from reaching his fifth final round of the season.
Qualified: No. 3 (3.750 sec., 321.80 mph)
- E1: Todd defeated Wurtzel – 3.818 sec., 320.28 mph to 5.595 sec., 119.26 mph
- E2: Todd defeated Dakin – 3.787 sec., 319.22 mph to 3.827 sec., 316.90 mph
- E3: Todd defeated by Schumacher – 3.802 sec., 326.71 mph to 3.757 sec., 326.71 mph
Quotable: “We were hoping to rebound with a win today but we did gain some ground on the top spot with this SealMaster Toyota team. The guys are working hard and are focused. We will go home for a couple days and plan to run hard at Maple Grove.”
Point Standings: Seventh (-106); trails sixth-place Steve Torrence by nine points, leads eighth-place Richie Crampton by 25 points
Kalitta closes on points lead
Race Recap: Kalitta returned to Gateway sporting new colors as the traditionally red and white Mac Tools dragster turned to the yellow and black DEWALT FLEXVOLT machine for the next two races.
Kalitta was stellar in qualifying. He earned six bonus points throughout the weekend and started fourth overall with his 3.752 second pass which he ran in Friday evening’s session. However, the DEWALT FLEXVOLT dragster was consistent in the heat of Saturday as well earning bonus points in each session.
The fourth qualifying spot meant Kalitta would draw the 13th seeded Terry McMillen and the DEWALT FLEXVOLT team was ready. The Jim Oberhofer tune-up gave Kalitta low elapsed time of round one and reset his own top speed of the weekend with their 328.22mph effort.
A dropped cylinder meant Kalitta’s day would end in round two, but Kalitta closed the Brown’s points lead to just 13 points heading into the third race of the NHRA Countdown for the Championship.
Qualified: No. 4 (3.752 sec., 325.92 mph)
- E1: Kalitta defeated McMillen – 3.751 sec., 328.22 mph to 6.426 sec., 105.64 mph (328.22 was Top Speed on the weekend)
- E2: Kalitta defeated by Langdon – 3.861 sec., 310.91 mph to 3.782 sec., 322.27 mph
Quotable: “It’s disappointing to go out in the second round because we thought the DEWALT FLEXVOLT Toyota was capable of winning today. We were very solid in qualifying and, in the end, we gained some decent points today and only 13 out of the lead heading into Reading. Maple Grove qualifying starts in five days and that’s where our focus needs to be.”
Point Standings: Second (-13); trails first-place Antron Brown by 13 points, leads third-place Tony Schumacher by 31 point
Worsham suffers his first opening round defeat since July
Race Recap: Worsham came into St. Louis as the defending race winner and looking for his fourth Gateway win. The DHL team, led by Jon Oberhofer and Nicky Boninfante, were strong off of the trailer. The DHL Toyota Camry ran a 3.970 second pass in the first qualifying pass, earning two bonus points. He added two more bonus points and qualified solidly in the top half of the field. Worsham’s reward: John Force.
Worsham and Force were the seventh pair to see the drag strip. The driver of the DHL Toyota Camry left the line first, but Force drove around him by the finish line to end Worsham’s streak of six straight semi-final finishes of better.
Qualified: No. 7 (3.929 sec., 324.75 mph)
- E1: Worsham defeated by J. Force – 3.989 sec., 320.28 mph to 3.958 sec., 327.43 mph
Quotable: “Tough day for this DHL Toyota team. We had a solid pass, but just got out run. To lose in the first round is not fun. We are down, but we know we still have a shot. Reading is always fast. We will head there and plan to rebound.”
Point Standings: Fifth (-84); trails with fourth-place John Force by 10 points, leads sixth place Matt Hagan by 12 points
Early exit for DeJoria, Patrón team
Race Recap: The second of three straight races for DeJoria saw a Saturday celebration as the team celebrated her birthday. On the race track, DeJoria just missed qualifying in the top half. Her Patrón-backed Toyota Camry Funny Car was a part of the last pair to see the race track in the Funny Car class with her opponent, Tommy Johnson Jr. DeJoria ran a solid 3.985, but Johnson Jr. ran his quickest pass of the weekend to defeat the Countdown driver in round one.
Qualified: No. 9 (3.945 sec., 323.19 mph)
- E1: DeJoria defeated Johnson Jr. – 3.985 sec., 321.65 mph to 3.940 sec., 323.35 mph
Point Standings: 10th (-205); trails ninth-place Tim Wilkerson by 76 points\
For further requests for Alexis DeJoria, please contact:
(Doug Kalitta, Del Worsham, J.R. Todd)
All photos are courtesy of Gary Nastase Photography.
Mello Yello Championship Points:
Top Fuel (Unofficial)
1. Antron Brown (2258)
2. Doug Kalitta (2245)
3. Tony Schumacher (2204)
4. Shawn Langdon (2181)
5. Brittany Force (2167)
6. Steve Torrence (2161)
7. J.R. Todd (2152)
8. Richie Crampton (2127)
9. Leah Pritchett (2107)
10. Clay Millican (2084)
Funny Car (Unofficial)
1. Ron Capps (2273)
2. Tommy Johnson Jr. (2225)
3. Jack Beckman (2203)
4. John Force (2199)
5. Del Worsham (2189)
6. Matt Hagan (2177)
7. Robert Hight (2159)
8. Courtney Force (2149)
9. Tim Wilkerson (2144)
10. Alexis DeJoria (2068)
About Kalitta Motorsports:
Based in Ypsilanti, Mich., Kalitta Motorsports is a Top Fuel and Funny Car drag racing team in the NHRA (National Hot Rod Association) Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. The team was founded and is owned by drag racing icon Connie “the Bounty Hunter” Kalitta. For more than 50 years, Connie has been involved in the sport as a driver, tuner, and an owner. Kalitta Motorsports is one of the most successful teams in the history of auto racing with six world championships and over 100 national event titles in five different professional drag racing sanctioning bodies since it was established by Connie in 1959.
Team Kalitta is the home of the 2015 NHRA Mello Yello Funny Car World Champion, Del Worsham. He drives the DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car. Alexis DeJoria pilots the Tequila Patrón Toyota Camry Funny Car. J.R. Todd drives the SealMaster Top Fuel dragster while Connie’s nephew, Doug Kalitta, pilots the Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster. Team Kalitta also manages the McLeod Racing Toyota Camry Funny Car driven by Paul Lee. Connie serves as head tuner for all Team Kalitta entries. He is assisted by co-crew chiefs Jon Oberhofer and Nick Boninfante on the DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car, Tommy DeLago and Glen Huszar on the Tequila Patrón Toyota Camry Funny Car, Todd Smith on the McLeod Racing Toyota Camry Funny Car, Rob Flynn on the SealMaster Top Fuel dragster and Jim Oberhofer on the Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster.
Associate sponsors on Kalitta Motorsports’ race cars include ARP, AutoDesk CAM, Champion, Cogistics, Darton Sleeves, DHL, Justice Brothers, Kalitta Air, Mac Tools, Optima Batteries, Phoenix Fuel Converter, Racing Electronics, Red Line Oil, SealMaster, Summit Racing Equipment, Technicoat Companies, Tequila Patrón, TMS Titanium, Toyota and Ziebart.