J.R. Todd and DHL Toyota GR Supra Fired up for Midwest Nationals
The race for the 2022 NHRA Funny Car championship will reach a critical turning point this weekend for not just J.R. Todd and the DHL Toyota GR Supra Funny Car team but the entire category still has a shot at reeling in the points leader. Todd, who is sitting in seventh place is just 150 point off the lead and with four races and points and half at the season finale race in Pomona, California, it is still very much anyone’s championship. In 2018 when Todd won his first world championship the driver who came up through the junior dragster ranks before a successful career in Top Fuel made the back half of the Countdown his playground. The Midwest Nationals was the lone event he did not dominate during his championship run but the 10-time Funny Car national event winner knows this track could be the key to his second championship.
“In 2018 we made it to the semifinals at the Midwest Nationals and that kept us in the championship hunt,” said Todd. “A win this weekend could give this DHL Toyota team just the push we need to grab another title. This team is ready for a win and I know we are hungry for the championship.”
In 2019 Todd raced to the final round and squared off with his teammate Shawn Langdon who was in his second year piloting an 11,000 horsepower Funny Car. It was a close race that went Langdon’s way that Sunday. With Langdon back in the Top Fuel ranks Todd has turned his attention to the other tough Funny Car competitors.
“Every race anyone of these Funny Cars is capable of winning the race and that hasn’t always been the case,” said Todd. “There are no easy round wins and even in qualifying times that used to get you in the top four might not get you in the top half this season. It is very tough, but I also love the competition.”
Todd’s DHL Funny Car will be looking to take out as many of his competitors on Sunday to advance in the point standings but also to help Feeding America. Every win light Todd and the DHL team earned Kalitta Motorsports will donate 10,000 meals and DHL will match that donation with an additional 10,000 meals. A win by Todd would mean 80,000 meals would head to Feeding America to help support families across the country battling food insecurity.
The Midwest Nationals will feature three qualifying runs for Todd and the DHL Toyota Funny Car team over Friday and Saturday. The race will begin at 10:30 a.m. with FS1 broadcasting the race nationally.
2021 Midwest Nationals Highlights: Qual. No. 9; Beat Tim Wilkerson; Lost to Matt Hagan
Last Event Recap 2022 Carolina Nationals: Qual. 6; Lost to Alexis DeJoria
Career Stats: 273 events, 265 starts, 298 round wins, 19 wins, 41 finals, 14 No. 1 qualifiers; In Funny Car: 121 events, 121 starts, 10 wins, 21 finals, 149 round wins, 5 No. 1 qualifiers
Winternationals: Qual. 8; Beat Bobby Bode; Lost to Ron Capps
Arizona Nationals: Qual. 8; Lost to Alexis DeJoria
Gatornationals: Qual. 11; Lost to Blake Alexander
Las Vegas1: Qual. 9; Beat Tim Wilkerson and Jason Qual. 7; Beat Jim Campbell; Lost to Robert Hight Rupert; Lost to Ron Capps and Matt Hagan
Houston: Qual. 13; Beat Bob Tasca III, Jim Campbell; Lost to Matt Hagan
Charlotte1: Qual. 6; Beat Dale Creasy Jr, Chad Green; Lost to Ron Capps, Mike McIntire
Richmond: Qual. 5; Lost to John Force
Epping: Qual. 10; Beat Blake Alexander, Cruz Pedregon; Lost to Matt Hagan
Bristol: Qual. 11; Lost to Cruz Pedregon
Norwalk: Qual. 7; Beat Blake Alexander, John Force; Lost to Robert Hight
Denver: Qual. 6; Beat Cruz Pedregon; Lost to John Force
Sonoma: Qual. 10; Beat Tim Wilkerson; Lost to John Force
Seattle: Qual. 7; RUNNER-UP; Beat Blake Alexander, Bob Tasca III, bye; Lost to Robert Hight
Topeka: Qual. 8; Lost to Alexis DeJoria
Brainerd: Qual. 7; Beat Jim Campbell; Lost to Robert Hight
Indianapolis: Qual. 8; Beat Cruz Pedregon; Lost to Ron Capps
Reading: Qual. 6; Beat Chad Green; Lost to John Force
Charlotte2: Qual. 6; Lost to Alexis DeJoria
Opportunity for St Louis Success Has Langdon and DHL Top Fuel Team Ready to Attack Track
The Midwest Nationals this weekend at World Wide Technology Raceway will be a critical turning point for Shawn Langdon and the DHL Toyota Top Fuel team. There are four races remaining the NHRA Countdown with the season finale earning the team points and a half. A strong performance by his DHL team that will also be promoting career opportunities at Kalitta Air with the KalittaAir.com/Careers logo could move him into position to maximize the final three races of the season. Fortunately for the 2013 Top Fuel world champion has some unique history of success at the track located just outside of St. Louis. Langdon is one of only two drivers to have won both nitro categories at the track positioned in the shadow of the famed St. Louis Arch. In 2016 he won Top Fuel and in 2019 he outran teammate J.R. Todd for his second Funny Car national event. The only other driver to achieve this special double win is Hall of Famer Gary Scelzi.
“It is cool to be one of only two drivers to have won Top Fuel and Funny Car at a national event, but we are focusing on getting another Top Fuel win this weekend,” said Langdon. “We got on a roll earlier this season and we need to get make into that kind of groove.”
In the middle of the regular season Langdon raced to two final rounds and two semifinals in a five-race stretch. The runner-up finishes in Bristol and Denver gave the team great data and showed they have a race car that can beat anyone in any conditions. They have continued to pick up round wins but some unfortunate first and second round match-ups have kept the team from reaching its full potential.
“This DHL Toyota team is a championship caliber team no doubt in my mind,” said Langdon. “We have all the pieces and the leadership we just haven’t been able to pull it all together on race day. No one is hanging their heads and we have four more races to get wins and move up in the points. I am ready to get to St. Louis.”
An added element for the team is the Feeding America “Drive For Purpose Challenge.” As the largest charity working to end hunger in the United States Feeding America is teaming up with DHL and Kalitta Motorsports to help in a race to end food insecurity. Every win light Langdon lights on Sunday equals 20,000 meals for the charity thanks to donations from Kalitta Motorsports that are matched by DHL. Last week Langdon’s teammate raced to the semifinals and earned 40,000 meals for his efforts.
Langdon’s history of success at the Midwest Nationals also includes a runner-up Top Fuel finish in 2014. The team will get their first chance to race to the top of the field on Friday night under the lights when conditions should be ideal for quick and fast runs. Saturday will feature two qualifying sessions with final eliminations getting underway on Sunday at 10:30 a.m.
2021 Midwest Nationals Highlights: Qual. No. 14; Lost to Steve Torrence
Last Event Recap 2022 Carolina Nationals: Qual. 12; Lost to Doug Kalitta
Career Stats: 305 events, 301 starts, 326 round wins, 17 wins, 37 finals, 19 No. 1 qualifiers; in Top Fuel: 257 events, 253 starts, 15 wins, 34 finals, 287 round wins, 19 No. 1 qualifiers
Winternationals: Qual 8; Lost to Josh Hart
Arizona Nationals: Qual 7; Beat Antron Brown; Lost to Mike Salinas
Gatornationals: Qual 21; DNQ
Las Vegas1: Qual 11; Beat Doug Kalitta and Rob Passey; Lost to Steve Torrence and Brittany Force
Houston: Qual 10; Beat Leah Pruett; Lost to Brittany Force
Charlotte1: Qual 14; Lost to Clay Millican, Josh Hart
Richmond: Qual 12; Beat Doug Foley; Lost to Brittany Force
Epping: Qual. No. 12; Beat Josh Hart, Doug Kalitta; Lost to Justin Ashley
Bristol: RUNNER-UP; Qual. No. 9; Beat Spencer Massey, Mike Salinas, Antron Brown; Lost to Justin Ashley
Norwalk: Qual. No. 9; Lost to Tripp Tatum
Denver: RUNNER-UP; Qual. No. 12; Beat Greg Carrillo, Mike Salinas, Josh Hart; Lost to Leah Pruett
Sonoma: Qual. 9; Beat Antron Brown, Leah Pruett; Lost to Brittany Force
Seattle: Qual. 6; Beat Mike Salinas; Lost to Tony Schumacher
Topeka: Qual. 9; Beat Clay Millican; Lost to Mike Salinas
Brainerd: Qual. 11; Beat Leah Pruett; Lost to Justin Ashley
Indianapolis: Qual. 15; Lost to Justin Ashley
Reading: Qual. 12; Lost to Steve Torrence
Charlotte2: Qual. 12; Lost to Doug Kalitta
Doug Kalitta Brings Championship Focus and New Look to Midwest Nationals
Heading into the third NHRA Countdown race with a semifinal finish from the Carolina Nationals Doug Kalitta and the Mac Tools Toyota Top Fuel team can feel the momentum building. Four races remain in the NHRA playoffs and the Midwest Nationals at World Wide Technology Raceway would not come at a better time for the 49-time Top Fuel National event winner. Kalitta has won the Midwest Nationals four times most recently the 2020 title. The perennial championship contender has the second most Top Fuel wins at the popular track located just outside of the St. Louis. The Mac Tools team will also get an added boost this weekend from Ferguson Facilities Supply, a division of Ferguson Enterprises, along with WypAll towels and wipes which will join Mac Tools on his dragster as they move in the right direction at the right time heading to a track they have had a long history of success.
“I am ready to get to St. Louis for sure,” said Kalitta. “We had a solid race in Charlotte and we made some big steps forward. We were provisional No. 1 qualifiers and raced to the semifinals. This is the time of year you need to start getting round wins and our Mac Tools team is starting to get that done.”
Kalitta took the Midwest Nationals title three times in a four year stretch winning in 2011, 2003 and 2004. He has also added two more runner-up finishes in 2010 and 2017 so the six final round appearances have the driver who recently started his impressive 555th NHRA national event eager to continue that success. There will be added benefits for every win light this weekend thanks to a program between Kalitta Motorsports, DHL and Feeding America. For every win light a Kalitta Motorsports driver lights on Sunday 20,000 meals will be donated to Feeding America. Kalitta’s semifinal finish in Charlotte translated to 40,000 meals thanks to DHL and Kalitta Motorsports.
“This is a really neat program with Feeding America,” said Kalitta. “You always want to see win lights but when every win light means 20,000 meals for Feeding America that is pretty cool.”
On Friday of the Carolina Nationals Kalitta and the Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster came out of the trailer with a strong run in the 3.60s and grabbed three qualifying bonus points and the provisional No. 1 spot. Earlier this season Kalitta was the No. 1 qualifier at the Arizona Nationals. He has secured two No. 1s at the Midwest Nationals starting race day from the top spot in 2005 and 2014. The confidence a team experiences from going low on the first day in critical in Kalitta’s opinion.
“We have been running well in qualifying all season and that definitely gives the Mac Tools team a boost,” said Kalitta, who has 51 No. 1 qualifiers in his career. “You get better positioning on Saturday on the run sheet and you just feel better knowing you are making good runs on Friday and Saturday. Last weekend we made a lot of quick runs and we will be looking to duplicate that this weekend in St. Louis.”
Qualifying will begin on Friday with a night session followed by two runs on Saturday. Final eliminations featuring the 16 quickest Top Fuel dragster will begin on Sunday at 10:30 a.m.
2021 Midwest Nationals Highlights: Qual. No. 9; Lost to Tripp Tatum
Last Event Recap 2022 Carolina Nationals: Qual. 5; Beat Shawn Langdon, Mike Salinas; Lost to Justin Ashley
Career Stats: 562 events, 555 starts, 737 round wins, 49 wins, 107 finals, 51 No. 1 qualifiers
Winternationals: Qual. 5; Lost to Tony Schumacher
Arizona Nationals: Qual. 1; Lost to Rob Passey
Gatornationals: Qual 5; Beat Alex Laughlin; Lost to Mike Salinas
Las Vegas1: Qual 6; Lost to Leah Pruett and Shawn Langdon
Houston: Qual 3; Lost to Billy Torrence
Charlotte1: Qual 4; Beat Alex Laughlin, Doug Foley; Lost to Mike Salinas, Cameron Ferre
Richmond: Qual 6; Beat Leah Pruett; Lost to Austin Prock
Epping: Qual 4; Beat Cameron Ferre; Lost to Shawn Langdon
Bristol: Qual 12; Lost to Brittany Force
Norwalk: Qual. No. 6; Beat Antron Brown; Lost to Mike Salinas
Denver: Qual. No. 8; Lost to Josh Hart
Sonoma: Qual. 2; Beat Ron August, Josh Hart; Lost to Mike Salinas
Seattle: Qual. 4; Beat Alex Laughlin; Lost to Leah Pruett
Topeka: Qual. 5; Lost to Tony Schumacher
Brainerd: Qual. 10; Lost to Tony Schumacher
Indianapolis: Qual. 12; Beat Clay Millican, Mike Salinas; Lost to Brittany Force
Reading: Qual. 7; Beat Leah Pruett; Lost to Justin Ashley
Charlotte2: Qual. 5; Beat Shawn Langdon, Mike Salinas; Lost to Justin Ashley