After qualifying all three race cars at the 2022 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season opener J.R. Todd recorded one of the first win lights for the new DHL Toyota GR Supra Funny Car. Doug Kalitta raced his Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster with new chew chiefs Alan Johnson and Brian Husen while Shawn Langdon piloted the familiar yellow and red DHL Kalitta Air Top Fuel dragster led by Connie Kalitta, Kurt Elliott and new addition Jason McCulloch.
Arizona Nationals Title Up For Grabs for J.R. Todd and DHL Toyota GR Supra Team
With a brand-new DHL Toyota GR Supra Funny Car 2018 world champion J.R. Todd is looking to add NHRA Arizona Nationals Funny Car winner to his list of accomplishments to start the season. In 2019 he recorded a runner-up finish after a bizarre final round. Heading into the last session with lane choice after an impressive 3.919 second run in the semifinals Todd’s racecar backfired as soon as he stepped on the throttle pedal and immediately deployed the parachutes.
“We had one get away from us a few years ago,” said Todd. “I am looking forward to getting back to Phoenix. We had a good test session with the new Supra and every run I feel like we get better.”
The Toyota GR Super Funny Car was unveiled at the season finale in 2021 and received rave reviews on its stylish design. Over the off-season Kalitta Motorsports and Toyota Gazoo Racing North America spent a weekend in Florida shaking the race car down in advance of the 2022 NHRA season. Their hard work paid off with daily improvements during the PRO Nitro Spring Training event two weeks ago. Todd and the DHL Supra posted some of the quickest times in the category.
“I am so glad we tested in Florida because we figured a lot of little things out,” said Todd. “The Toyota Gazoo Racing guys have been amazing. There are so many little and big details you must figure out when you bring out a completely new Funny Car. I can see so much better in this DHL Funny Car and it is an amazing race car to drive.”
Last season Todd started the year with a resounding victory at the Gatornationals and raced to four more final rounds. The DHL Funny Car was in the championship hunt until the end of the season. The tight Funny Car battle looks to continue in 2022 as Todd and Toyota teammate Alexis DeJoria will be racing the new Supra Funny Cars against a tough field of veterans.
“This Funny Car class has really stepped it up in the last couple of years,” said Todd. “It seems like there are about 10 or 11 drivers that really have a shot at the championship. We want to be in that mix and I feel confident (crew chiefs) Todd Smith and Jon Oberhofer will give me a Toyota Supra Funny Car that can turn on a lot of win lights this year.”
With qualifying starting on Friday afternoon and two more sessions on Saturday. Todd is looking to put the team in the best position to go rounds when eliminations start at 11 a.m. local time on Sunday.
“I am always excited at the beginning of the season,” said Todd. “You can’t get overly excited just because of how you did in testing. There are a lot of good cars and you really don’t know who is doing what. We have been making good runs and this Supra is going down the track.”
2020 NHRA Arizona Nationals Highlights (event not contested in 2021): Qual. No. 9; Lost to Ron Capps
Last Event Recap (2022 Winternationals): Qual 8; Beat Bobby Bode; Lost to Ron Capps
Career Stats: 256 events, 248 starts, 282 round wins, 19 wins, 40 finals, 14 No. 1 qualifiers; In Funny Car: 104 events, 104 starts, 10 wins, 20 finals, 134 round wins, 5 No. 1 qualifiers
Winternationals: Qual 8; Beat Bobby Bode; Lost to Ron Capps
Shawn Langdon and DHL Top Fuel Team Focused on Arizona Nationals Success
Heading into the second race of the 2022 Camping World Drag Racing Series Shawn Langdon and the DHL Kalitta Air Toyota Top Fuel dragster team are eager to build momentum. This will be the third weekend in a row the team is hitting the track and they are back at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park for the NHRA Arizona Nationals after spending four days testing two weeks ago. Bringing more run data from the season opening race has the team prepared to improve their performance numbers and go rounds on Sunday.
“We had a good test session a couple of weeks ago and then got the season started in Pomona last weekend,” said Langdon, who will be pursuing his second Top Fuel world championship this season. “We have added Jason McCulloch to our DHL Kalitta Air team and he has already made us better I think. He and I have a lot of the same philosophies when it comes to racing. I am also excited to be back racing for Connie Kalitta and Kurt Elliott.”
The Arizona Nationals is one of only a handful of events on the NHRA tour where Langdon is looking for his first final round appearance. In 2012 he grabbed the No. 1 qualifier and raced to a semi-final finish.
“Our goal every race is to get into the winner’s circle,” said Langdon. “I have a lot of confidence in my crew and especially my crew chiefs. This is a long season and we want to continue to make improvements that will pay off for the whole season. Getting to race three weekends in a row will really help is get our season off on the right foot.”
Langdon who also races and crew chiefs periodically in the Super Comp ranks at national events is recognized as one of the leavers in the sport as well as one of the toughest competitors. Last weekend Langdon had one of the best reaction times in the first round behind the wheel of his DHL Kalitta Air Top Fuel dragster. His attention to detail, concentration and dedication to the craft of driving is something that will definitely turn on win lights for the team this season.
“I try and do everything the same way whether it is qualifying or eliminations,” said Langdon. “I have a routine and I know I have a job to do on the starting line. This is a team sport and everyone has to bring their A game every round. There are too many good drivers and cars out here to not give it your all every pass.”
2020 NHRA Arizona Nationals Highlights (event not contested in 2021): Qual. No. 7; Beat Clay Millican; Lost to Steve Torrence
Last Event Recap (2022 Winternationals): Winternationals: Qual 8; Lost to Josh Hart
Career Stats: 288 events, 285 starts, 310 round wins, 17 wins, 35 finals, 19 No. 1 qualifiers; in Top Fuel: 240 events, 237 starts, 15 wins, 32 finals, 271 round wins, 19 No. 1 qualifiers
Winternationals: Qual 8; Lost to Josh Hart
Determined Doug Kalitta Seeks Another Arizona Nationals Victory
After a year away from Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park the 2020 Top Fuel runner-up Doug Kalitta is ready to get back to the Phoenix area race track. The Mac Tools Top Fuel team tested at Wild Horse two weeks ago and made significant improvements on their performance every day. Last weekend the team used that information to qualify No. 5 at the season opening NHRA Winternationals in Pomona. With new crew chiefs Alan Johnson and Brian Husen on board this season Kalitta is brimming with confidence as he chases his 50th Top Fuel victory and first Top Fuel world championship driving the Mac Tools Toyota Top Fuel dragster.
“Getting to work with Alan and Brian is the opportunity of a lifetime,” said Kalitta. “I have so much respect for those guys and I know we will do some great things together this season. This Mac Tools Toyota Top Fuel team is ready to get after it and we made some really good passes in testing a few weeks ago.”
The last time Kalitta and the NHRA Top Fuel class raced in Arizona the Mac Tools team was coming into the event on the heels of a season opening win and they raced to another final from the No. 8 qualifier position. Kalitta outran Shawn Reed, Brittany Force and Antron Brown that day before taking runner-up honors. The 49-time Top Fuel winner grabbed one of his early career wins at the Arizona Nationals in 2001 and since that win he has raced to four more finals. He has also collected three No. 1 qualifiers most recently the 2016 NHRA Arizona Nationals.
“We have made a lot of good runs at the Arizona Nationals,” said Kalitta. “It is just great to get the season started with back-to-back events to get back in that racing groove. It doesn’t take too many passes to get comfortable. This race car drives like a dream. It is so smooth. I know Alan and Brian will have it ready to go this weekend.”
Last season Kalitta raced to two final rounds and wrapped up the season with another Top Ten finish in the point standings for the 24th consecutive season. Kalitta also celebrated 20 years with long time sponsor Mac Tools and the familiar red, white and black dragster will be back on the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series. The consistency of the sponsor and the crew who meticulously build and rebuild Kalitta’s 11,000 horsepower land rocket will hopefully prove to be the magic bullet for success in 2022.
“This Mac Tool dragster is a newer race car so everything is pretty much in the same place,” said Kalitta. “It is a comfortable race car and it drives really well. The guys have done an incredible job getting us ready for a successful season. The start of the season is always an exciting time and I am looking forward to a great season for our Mac Tools team.”
2020 NHRA Arizona Nationals Highlights (event not contested in 2021): RUNNER-UP; Qual. No. 8, Beat Shawn Reed, Brittany Force, Antron Brown; Lost to Steve Torrence
Last Event Recap (2022 Winternationals): Winternationals: Qual 5; Lost to Tony Schumacher
Career Stats: 545 events, 538 starts, 723 round wins, 49 wins, 107 finals, 50 No. 1 qualifiers
Winternationals: Qual 5; Lost to Tony Schumacher