Langdon and Global Electronic Technology Funny Car Ready to Climb Mountain to Victory
After a strong showing and runner-up finish at the New England NHRA Nationals Shawn Langdon and the Global Electronic Technology Toyota Camry Funny Car are ready to race into the historic Western Swing. The first stop is this weekend’s Mopar Mile High NHRA Nationals at picturesque Bandimere Speedway. The track offers challenges to all the NHRA Mello Yello Series teams with its elevation exceeding 5,800 feet above sea level, thinning the air and forcing teams to get creative to create power on the mountain.
“Starting the Western Swing in Denver is always exciting and a challenge,” said Langdon. “We have a completely different tune-up for Bandimere, every team does. I think it put more in the driver’s hands. You have be great on the tree and also be ready for anything.”
Two weeks ago Langdon and his Global Electronic Technology team had to battle tough qualifying conditions as temperatures soared to over 90 degrees which translated into track temperatures well over 120 degrees. A weather system moved through on Saturday dropping temperatures by almost 30 degrees and giving teams a brand new track situation to contend with on race day. Fortunately for Langdon his team stepped up and gave him a great Toyota Camry race car.
The Charlotte national event winner took care of Jim Campbell in the first round and then took out the current points leader Robert Hight in the quarterfinals. His semifinal opponent was veteran Tim Wilkerson and Langdon was able to secure his third win light of the day in a tough race. In the final round Langdon was not able to stop Matt Hagan from winning his third New England Nationals in a row but the Global Electronic Technology Funny Car made another solid run in a losing effort.
“Going to the finals in Epping was a big boost for this Global Electronic Technology team,” said Langdon. “We have been qualifying well and we just were going rounds on race day. This is when you want to start building some momentum. We beat some tough teams that will be Countdown contenders for sure. We are in the mix on performance and I am looking forward to getting back to the track.”
The three-race Western Swing is a gauntlet for all the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series teams. The first stop in Denver is followed by Seattle and then finally Sonoma Raceway in northern California. All three tracks offer their own wrinkles and performance elements all the teams have to deal with. Langdon is eager to try and become just the second Funny Car driver to sweep the Western Swing.
“Winning one NHRA national event is tough but to get three in a row at those three tracks with different conditions and elevations is a great accomplishment,” said Langdon. “There is a reason only a handful of drivers have done it. Our goal will be to get that first win in Denver and then see where we go from there.”
2018 Mile High NHRA Nationals Highlights: Qualified No. 8; Lost to Tim Wilkerson
Last Event Recap (2019 New England NHRA Nationals):Qual. No. 5; RUNNER-UP;Beat Jim Campbell, Robert Hight, Tim Wilkerson; Lost to Matt Hagan
Quotable:Langdon on starting Western Swing: “Someone asked me what my goal was for the Western Swing and I think it is like every other Funny Car racer out here, its win three in a row. We think we have the Funny Car to do it and I am looking forward to getting started.”
Career Stats: 245 events, 242 starts, 275 round wins, 15 wins, 32 finals, 18 No. 1 qualifiers; in Funny Car 37 events, 37 starts, 25 round wins, 1 wins, 2 finals, 0 No. 1 qualifiers
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 Wilkeron and Jeff Diehl
Houston: Qual. No. 10; Beat Cruz Pedregon; Lost to Ron Capps
Charlotte1: Qual 5; WINNER; Beat Jeff Diehl and Terry Haddock; Beat J.R. Todd and Tommy Johnson Jr; Beat Robert Hight, John Force and Matt Hagan
Atlanta: Qual. No. 6; Lost to Ron Capps
Richmond: Qual. No. 5; Beat Tim Wilkerson; Lost to J.R. Todd
Chicago: Qual. No. 4; Lost to Jeff Arend
Topeka: Qual. No. 8; Lost to Robert Hight
Bristol: Qual. No. 2; Beat Jeff Diehl; Lost to Ron Capps
Norwalk: Qual. No. 12; Beat Blake Alexander; Lost to Jack Beckman
Epping: Qual. No. 5; RUNNER-UP; Beat Jim Campbell, Robert Hight, Tim Wilkerson; Lost to Matt Hagan
Noteworthy: Looking for first Funny Car win for Team Kalitta at Bandimere Speedway.
Doug Kalitta and Mac Tools Looking for Another Mile-High Nationals Win
Doug Kalitta and the Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster have enjoyed success at the Mile High NHRA Nationals for over two decades. The veteran Top Fuel driver raced to his first final round at the storied race track, carved into the side of a mountain in 1999, his second year behind the wheel of a Top Fuel dragster. Since that race Kalitta has appeared in five more final rounds picking up a win in a 2010 and posting a runner-up finish at last year’s race.
“We had a pretty good race car last year,” said Kalitta. “The performance numbers are different at that elevation but we had one of the quickest race cars every round of eliminations. We stepped it up in the final round but just missed getting that one last win light.”
Kalitta’s history at Bandimere Speedway gives him a lot of confidence both personal and professional. He is one of three Kalitta named drivers to hoist a Wally at the Mile High Nationals. Team Kalitta namesake Connie won twice at Bandimere (1984 and 1985) and Doug’s cousin, Scott is a three-time Top Fuel winner (1994, 95 and 2004).
“Yeah, the Kalittas have had a lot of success in Denver,” said Kalitta. “It is cool to have a race track with so much history for our family and our team. The Bandimeres are great people and great track operators. This is a great place to race for the fans and the teams. They have continued to make improvements and develop this place into one of the top stops on the tour.”
Doug’s last win this season was recorded at the season opening Winternationals. Since that time the consistent championship contender has been near the top of the Mello Yello Top Fuel point standings. He has recorded four more semi-final finishes and has qualified in the top half of the field in nine of the last ten NHRA national events.
“Really we have been making good consistent runs in qualifying and going rounds on race day,” said Kalitta. “The class is ultra-competitive. Once you get past the first round you are looking at eight race cars that could and should win the race. We are seeing championship caliber race cars getting taken out in the first round as well. I love racing with that kind of competition. You have to raise your game as a driver every round.”
2018 Mile High NHRA Nationals Highlights: Qual. No. 10; RUNNER-UP; Beat Tony Schumacher, Jim Maroney, Blake Alexander; Lost to Leah Pritchett
Last Event Recap (2019 New England NHRA Nationals):Qual. No. 3; Lost to Terry McMillen
Quotable: Kalitta on starting the Western Swing: “We have been to a lot of final rounds at Bandimere Speedway. We got a win in 2010 and I want to park this Mac Tool Top Fuel dragster in the winner’s circle again. Only one driver can leave Bandimere with a chance at sweeping the Western Swing and I want that Top Fuel driver to be me.”
Career Stats: 502 events, 495 starts, 669 round wins, 45 wins, 97 finals, 50 No. 1 qualifiers
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
Charlotte1: Qual. No. 4; Beat Richie Crampton and Lex Joon; Lost to Clay Millican and Leah Pritchett
Atlanta: Qual. No. 3; Lost to Shawn Reed
Richmond: Qual. No. 5; Lost to Scott Palmer
Chicago: Qual. No. 5; Beat Shawn Reed, Pat Dakin; Lost to Mike Salinas
Topeka: Qual. No. 5; Beat Leah Pritchett; Lost to Antron Brown
Bristol: Qual. No. 1; Beat Cameron Ferre, Terry McMillen; Lost to Mike Salinas
Norwalk: Qual. No. 13; Beat Clay Millican; Lost to Steve Torrence
Epping: Qual. No. 3; Lost to Terry McMillen
J.R. Todd and DHL Toyota Camry Racing For History at Bandimere Speedway
The daunting Western Swing is right around the corner and J.R. Todd is ready for the challenge. Only one Funny Car driver has swept the three races contested on the western side of the country and it has been over twenty years since that feat was accomplished. The reigning Funny Car world champion is confident his DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car is capable of making a run at history.
“You look back and only one guy has swept the Western Swing in a Funny Car,” said Todd. “I think that shows you how tough these three races are. They have a lot of different characteristics from the mountains of Denver to Sonoma in northern California to Seattle. We have had some success at all the tracks.”
Todd will be chasing some additional history this weekend at the Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway. He will be looking to add his name beside drag racing Hall of Famer and legend Kenny Bernstein as the only drivers to win in Top Fuel and Funny Car at the famed Colorado national event. Todd picked up two Top Fuel wins at the Mile-High Nationals, 2006 and 2014, and Bernstein secured his Top Fuel win in 1992 after winning three Mile-High Funny Car national titles in 1981, 1985 and 1987.
“It would be awesome to join Kenny Bernstein as the only two drivers to win here in Top Fuel and Funny Car,” said Todd. “Brandon (Bernstein, Kenny’s son) is a really good friend of mine so that would be cool. Kenny got his Funny Car wins first and then his Top Fuel win so we’ll be doing it backwards from him but it would be a great honor for sure.
As the reigning Funny Car champion J.R. Todd and his well-regarded Yella Fellas DHL crew have raced to three final rounds so far including a win at the Las Vegas Nationals. They have secured two No. 1 qualifiers this season and overall their consistency has been solid throughout most events. They are looking at the three race western swing as a chance to continue to build towards a championship caliber tune-up even though the race tracks will be vastly different once the season starts winding down.
“I think the biggest plus of winning on the Western Swing is it shows you can overcome some adversity and some challenges,” said Todd. “You have to be able to pull together and get the car down the track in some unique conditions and as a driver you really have to be on top of your game. For me this is where I really start to focus on getting ready for the Countdown. We have five more races before the play-offs. You need to start getting mentally prepared for that. The western swing is a great place to start.”
The three race swing will begin this Friday with qualifying at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. at Bandimere Speedway.
2018 Mile High NHRA Nationals Highlights: Qual. No. 10; Lost to Ron Capps
Last Event Recap (2019 New England NHRA Nationals): Qual. 1; Beat bye; Lost to Tim Wilkerson
Quotable:J.R. Todd on starting the Western Swing: “You look at the schedule every year at the beginning of the season and you see the dates of the Western Swing. Every driver immediately starts thinking about how cool it would be to win those three races in a row. There are races like Indy and the Gatornationals that are historic races, but if you can sweep the Western Swing you know you have accomplished something really special.”
Career Stats:213 events, 205 starts, 227 round wins, 18 wins, 32 finals, 12 No. 1 qualifiers; in Funny Car: 61 events, 61 starts, 9 wins, 12 finals, 77 round wins, 3 No. 1 qualifiers
Winternationals: Qual. No. 9; Lost to Bob Tasca III
Arizona Nationals: Qual. No. 5; RUNNER-UP; 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
Charlotte1: Qual. No. 8; Beat Bob Tasca III and Bob Glibertson; Lost to Shawn Langdon and Robert Hight
Atlanta: Qual. No. 2; Beat Jim Campbell; Lost to Tommy Johnson Jr.
Richmond: Qual. No. 4;RUNNER-UP; Beat Bob Tasca III, Shawn Langdon, Jonnie Lindberg; Lost to Ron Capps
Chicago: Qual. No. 6; Lost to John Force
Topeka: Qual. No. 1; Beat bye; Lost to Robert Hight
Bristol: Qual. No. 5; Beat Terry Haddock; Lost to Jack Beckman
Norwalk: Qual. No. 7; Beat Robert Hight; Lost to John Force
Epping: Qual. No. 1; Beat bye; Lost to Tim Wilkerson
Richie Crampton and DHL Top Fuel Team Looking to Add to Team Kalitta Denver Legacy
Richie Crampton and the DHL Top Fuel dragster will be rolling into Bandimere Speedway with an eye on the Western Swing and also an eye on etching their name onto a list of Team Kalitta Top Fuel winners at the Mile-High Nationals. Since 1984 when Connie Kalitta hoisted the Wally as the Mile-High Nationals Top Fuel winner three more team Kalitta drivers have taken the Top Fuel title at the famed track carved into the side of the mountains west of Denver.
Team founder and leader Connie Kalitta as two Mile-High Nationals wins (1984 and 1985), the late Scott Kalitta has three (1995, 1995 and 2004), current Mac Tools teammate Doug Kalitta has a win in 2010 and J.R. Todd picked up the most recent Top Fuel win for Team Kalitta in 2014 when he was wheeling the Sealmaster Top Fuel dragster.
“The Kalitta team has a lot of history in Top Fuel at the Mile-High Nationals for sure,” said Crampton. “We are going to be trying our best to add our name to that list. This DHL Top Fuel dragster has been running really well. We were No. 2 in Epping and raced to the semifinals before we ran into Steve Torrence who is a tough guy to beat. I like our chances in Denver.”
Since his historic back-to-back win at the Gatornationals Richie Crampton has been battling to get into a groove that carries over from qualifying into race day. His team is quick in qualifying and has suffered through some tough draws on race day. They have also battled tricky track conditions or shortened qualifying sessions that have set them back in the field only to rise to the occasion on race day and turn heads with win lights.
“I think we have been doing a lot of things right all season and we just haven’t gotten some breaks,” said Crampton. “No one is promised anything out here. You have to earn it every race and every round. These DHL guys have been giving me a great race car and I am really focusing on being the best driver I can be. I think once it all comes together we will be a really strong team.”
The DHL Top Fuel team is sitting on the No. 8 spot in the Mello Yello point standings. They are just a handful of points out of No. 7 with five races left on the regular season. More importantly they have a solid point separation from the Top Fuel teams in 10thand 11thplace. Nothing is guaranteed for any team but continuing to go rounds and finishing the western swing strong will set up Crampton for a solid run at the championship.
“Everyone has a chance to win the Western Swing starting this weekend at the Mile-High Nationals,” said Crampton. “We want to take it one race at a time. If we don’t get the win this weekend we will focus on Seattle. Once course we want to win in Denver and get a leg up on the sweep as well as our competitors but we are focusing on going rounds every race.”
2018 Mile High NHRA Nationals Highlights: Qual. No. 5; Beat Terry McMillen; Lost to Clay Millican
Last Event Recap (2019 New England NHRA Nationals): Qual. No. 2; Beat Audrey Worm, bye; Lost to Steve Torrence
Quotable: Crampton on starting the Western Swing: “So many of my Team Kalitta Top Fuel teammates have won the Mile-High Nationals it would be great to get another Top Fuel win here. I am excited to get to Bandimere Speedway and see what we can do.”
Career Stats: 116 events, 115 starts, 97 round wins, 9 wins, 11 finals, 5 No. 1 qualifiers
Winternationals: Qual. No. 6; Lost to Terry McMillen
Arizona Nationals: Qual. No. 15; Lost to Terry McMillen
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
Charlotte1: Qual. No. 12; Lost to Doug Kalitta and Leah Pritchett
Atlanta: Qual. No. 7; Lost to Scott Palmer
Richmond: Qual. No. 7; Lost to Austin Prock
Chicago: Qual. No. 11; Beat Austin Prock; Lost to Steve Torrence
Topeka: Qual. No. 7; Beat Terry McMillen; Lost to Billy Torrence
Bristol: Qual. No. 9; Lost to Terry McMillen
Norwalk: Qual. No. 8; Lost to Billy Torrence
Epping: Qual. No. 2; Beat Audrey Worm, bye; Lost to Steve Torrence