Team Kalitta looks to continue 2019 season success which includes two Top Fuel wins and recent Las Vegas Funny Car win by World Champion J.R. Todd.
Points Leader Doug Kalitta Wants First Four-Wide Win
Doug Kalitta is looking for another win in the Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster at zMAX Dragway. The veteran driver has tasted victory at Bruton Smith’s palatial race track just north of Charlotte but it was a win against just one other competitor. In 2017 Kalitta won the Carolina Nationals during the Countdown but Kalitta is still on the hunt for his first four-wide nationals win.
“I really want to get that four-wide win,” said Kalitta. “It is a unique format and we have come close a couple times. We were in the final quad a few weeks ago in Las Vegas and I was runner-up at zMAX Dragway last year. I think we can get it done with a complete team effort. That is how we won the Winternationals and we are definitely moving in the right direction.”
Last year Kalitta was narrowly defeated in the final quad by Steve Torrence and had to settle for another runner-up finish. In 2010 at the inaugural Carolina Four-Wide Nationals Kalitta came up a few ticks short to Cory McClenathan. Since the inaugural race Kalitta has been in the mix in the final quad four times.
“We have gone rounds at the four-wide in Charlotte,” said Kalitta. “You really just want to be in that final quad because anything can happen. The crowds really seem to enjoy the four-wide racing so we want to put on a good show for them with this Mac Tools dragster.”
With a victory this weekend Kalitta would become just the fourth Top Fuel driver to pick up a win at the fall and spring national events at zMAX Dragway joining Steve Torrence, Antron Brown and Cory McClenathan. It is an exclusive club there is another group Kalitta is much more focused on; Mello Yello Top Fuel world champion.
As the current Top Fuel points leader Kalitta has been setting the pace for the category starting with a season opening win at the historic Winternationals. He has two additional semifinal finishes at the Gatornationals and at the most recent four-wide nationals in Las Vegas.
“Having the points lead early in the season doesn’t mean a lot other that you are having some early season success,” added Kalitta. “You want to build on that success and carry momentum into the Countdown. Right now we are focusing on each race one by one. The goal this weekend is to get three win lights on Sunday.”
2018 Charlotte Four-Wide Highlights: Qualified No. 6; Runner-Up; Beat Richie Crampton and Antron Brown; Beat Dom Lagana and Mike Salinas; Lost to Steve Torrence in final quad
Last Event Recap (2019 Houston SpringNationals): Qual. 8; Beat Terry McMillen; Lost to Brittany Force
Quotable: On Racing Toyota dragster in Houston “It was great to fly the Toyota colors in Houston. We are going to visit with some Toyota folks before the Charlotte race as well. It is a great relationship and we definitely appreciate all the support from TRD the entire Kalitta racing operation receives. ”
Career Stats: 494 races, 45 wins, 52 Runner-ups, 49 No. 1 qualifiers and career round wins 662
Winternationals: Qual. No. 7, WINNER; Beat Scott Palmer, Billy Torrence, Terry McMillen and Steve Torrence
Arizona Nationals: Qual. No. 5, Beat Jim Maroney; Lost to Jordan Vandergriff
Gatornationals: Qual. No. 11, Beat Terry McMillen, Steve Torrence; Lost to Clay Millican
Las Vegas1: Qual. No. 7, Beat Terry McMillen and Steve Chrisman; Beat Steve Torrent and Richie Crampton; Lost to Mike Salinas and Brittany Force
Houston: Qual. No. 8, Beat Terry McMillen; Lost to Brittany Force
Noteworthy: Kalitta is looking for first four-wide national win
J.R. Todd and DHL Team Racing for Another 2019 Four-Wide Nationals Win
For J.R. Todd the reigning Mello Yello NHRA Funny Car champion winning four-wide races has become a habit on the west coast. The two-time winner at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway has yet to transfer that luck from the Bruton Smith owned track in Sin City to the original four-wide race track in Charlotte.
“We got another four-wide win a few weeks ago in Las Vegas and it was a complete team effort,” said Todd. “We won some rounds on hole-shots and then in the final we ran a 3.97 which was awesome to get the win. This DHL team is really clicking and we are ready to get to Charlotte.”
In his first Charlotte four-wide attempt behind the wheel of the DHL Funny Car in 2017 Todd raced to the third quad and settled for a semifinal finish. Last season Todd was ousted in the second quad.
The Funny Car winner’s circle at zMAX Dragway is the toughest Mello Yello Drag Racing Series club to break into. Only eight different Funny Car racers have hoisted a Wally at the famed “Bellagio of Drag Strips.”
“Charlotte is an awesome facility. You look at what Bruton and Marcus Smith have done there in the heart of NASCAR country and it is pretty amazing,” said Todd. “This class is tough when you look at how few Funny Car drivers have won at that track. I definitely want to add my name to that list this year.”
This season Todd has picked up a four-wide national win in Las Vegas and a runner-up finish at the Arizona Nationals. The third year Funny Car racer has steadily moved up to third in the Mello Yello point standings giving the reigning champ early season confidence coming into Zmax Dragway.
“I am having so much fun driving this DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car. Just look at the numbers we are putting up. We are consistently qualifying in the top four and you will win a lot of rounds and races that way,” added Todd.
2018 Charlotte Four-Wide Highlights: Qualified No. 4; Advanced to second quad; Defeated Bob Tasca III and Shawn Langdon; Lost to John Force and Courtney Force.
Last Event Recap (2019 Houston SpringNationals): Qual 4; Beat Jim Campbell; Lost to Robert Hight
Quotable: J.R. Todd on defending Funny Car championship: “It is just cool to see that No. 1 on the side of this DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car. I look at it every time before I get strapped in. I want to keep that No. 1 on there for as long as I can. We are off to a good start but really you have to be ready in the Countdown. No one is going to give you the championship trophy after this race but you can definitely set yourself up for success in the Countdown with consistency now.”
Career Stats: 205 Races; 18 Wins; 13 Runner-ups; 10 No. 1 qualifiers; Career round wins 218; in Funny Car: 52 Races; 8 Wins, 4 Runner-ups, 1 No. 1 qualifier and 69 round wins
Winternationals: Qual. No. 9; Lost to Bob Tasca III
Arizona Nationals: Qual. No. 5; Beat Terry Haddock, Tommy Johnson Jr., Robert Hight, Lost to Matt Hagan
Gatornationals: Qual. No. 11; Lost to Jack Beckman
Las Vegas1: Qual. No. 4; WINNER; Beat Gary Densham and Jim Campbell in first quad, Matt Hagan and Jeff Diehl in second quad and in the final quad beat Tommy Johnson Jr., Jack Beckman and Tim Wilkerson.
Houston: Qual No. 4; Beat Jim Campbell; Lost to Robert Hight
Shawn Langdon Focused on Four-WideVictory in Charlotte
Shawn Langdon is looking for more round wins at the Four-Wide Nationals this weekend at zMAX Dragway. The second year Funny Car driver is still getting a handle on what many racing experts consider the wildest racer car on the NHRA tour. The Top Fuel world champion is continuing to fine tune his technique behind the wheel and motor of these 10,000 horsepowered race cars.
“I have won rounds in the four-wide races when I was in a Top Fuel dragster,” said Langdon. “We are just looking for those first couple of four-wide round wins in the Funny Car. I love driving this Global Electronics Technology Toyota Camry Funny Car. You are really driving and you have your hands full for the full three seconds. There is nothing like the experience.”
While four-wide success over the past two years in the Funny Car class has been eluding Langdon, the veteran racer was the 2014 Top Fuel runner-up. The differences between the classes is not lost on Langdon.
“I talk to J.R. (Todd) a lot about driving these Toyota Camry Funny Cars,” said Langdon. “We both have a lot of the same experiences coming up from Jr Dragsters to Top Fuel to Funny Car. The biggest element for me has been fine tuning on my driving skills and being consistent in the cockpit. I want to be first off the line and really work to keep it right in the middle of the groove. Funny Cars are pretty unforgiving and if you get them out of the groove you are in trouble.”
So far this year Langdon and the Global Electronic Technology Toyota Camry team have been in the hunt for his first Funny Car victory. Quarterfinal finishes at the historic Winternationals, the Arizona Nationals and most recently two weeks ago at the SpringNationals in Houston have Langdon excited about the team’s direction.
2018 Charlotte Four-Wide Highlights: Qualified No. 12; Did not advance out of first quad; Lost to J.R. Todd and Jack Beckman
Last Event Recap (2019 Houston SpringNationals): Qual. No. 10; Beat Cruz Pedregon; Lost to Ron Capps
Quotable: Langdon on the addition of Del Worsham as co-crew chief: “The addition of Del is monumental for this team because what he brings to the table. He fully understands these cars and can help each individual crew guy to be better in their area. I think for me one of the huge plusses is the fact that Del is a championship driver…we speak that driver language to one another…he understands exactly what I’m saying and he can tell me how to improve.”
Career Stats: 237 Races, 14 Wins, 16 Runner-ups, 18 No. 1 qualifiers, career round wins 266 (includes 19 Funny Car round wins)
Winternationals: Qual. No. 6; Beat Jim Campbell; Lost to Tommy Johnson Jr.
Arizona Nationals: Qual. No. 7; Beat Cruz Pedregon; Lost to Matt Hagan
Gatornationals: Qual. No. 10; Lost to Cruz Pedregon
Las Vegas1: Qual. No. 8; Lost to Tim Wilkseron and Jeff Diehl
Houston: Qual. No. 10; Beat Cruz Pedregon; Lost to Ron Capps
Noteworthy: Langdon is looking to become just the 17th racer to win in both Top Fuel and Funny Car.
DHL and Richie Crampton Racing for Second 2019 Top Fuel Win in Charlotte
The DHL Top Fuel dragster and driver Richie Crampton are rolling into zMAX Dragway looking for their second win of the season and the young Australian’s first four-wide victory. The Top Fuel racer has won rounds in the unique format even racing to the final quad in 2015 but the winner’s circle has been just outside of his grasp.
“The four-wide is a fun race. You have to be on your game,” said Crampton. “We are winning rounds but we just haven’t been able to get three win lights on Sunday. This DHL team is doing everything right and we just need to keep moving forward. We are starting to get into a groove and I think that will only make us a stronger team.
Two races ago in Las Vegas at the four-wide nationals Crampton raced to the second quad before being defeated by teammate Doug Kalitta and Brittany Force. An early exit last year in Charlotte isn’t going to affect Crampton.
“Last year we didn’t make it out of the first quad but that doesn’t matter at all this year,” said Crampton. “It is a brand new season and we have been going rounds. The key is to get good info on all four lanes throughout qualifying. We can take all that info and make great decisions on race day.”
The early season win at the Gatornationals has motivated the young driver to keep his focus. It was the second consecutive win at the historic race for Crampton.
“When you win a race like the Gatornationals it gives you a lot of confidence. When you do it two years in a row and especially the 50th anniversary that is a special win for sure. We don’t take any wins for granted and our goal is to keep getting better and win as many races as possible with this DHL dragster. The four-wide nationals this weekend is next on our list,” added Crampton.
2018 Charlotte Four-Wide Highlights: Qualified No. 14; Did not advance out of first quad; Lost to Doug Kalitta and Mike Salinas
Last Event Recap (2019 Houston SpringNationals): Qual No. 13; Lost to Clay Millican
Quotable: Crampton on media tour in advance of Charlotte: “When you get the chance to talk about NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing with the media in the middle of NASCAR country you have to take advantage of that opportunity. Our sport is so exciting. You have the fan access that is really like no other sport out there. The Four-Wide Nationals at night will also be amazing for the fans to see the header flames and hopefully some record times.”
Career Stats: 108 races, 9 wins, 2 Runner-ups, 5 No. 1 qualifiers and career round wins 93
Winternationals: Qual. No. 6, Lost to Terry McMillen round one
Arizona Nationals: Qual. No. 15, Lost to Terry McMillen round one
Gatornationals: Qual. No. 12, WINNER, Beat Antron Brown, Leah Pritchett, TJ Zizzo and Clay Millican
Las Vegas1: Qual. No. 6, Beat Scott Palmer, Cameron Ferre; Lost to Doug Kalitta and Brittany Force
Houston: Qual No. 13; Lost to Clay Millican