Team Kalitta sits second in Funny Car and third and fifth in Top Fuel in the point standings. Last race Doug Kalitta led Team Kalitta with a runner-up finish. Shawn Langdon tallied a semifinal finish and Todd continued his streak of at least a quarterfinal finish at every race this season.
Hard Charging Doug Kalitta Focused on First New England Nationals Victory
Doug Kalitta and the Mac Tools Top Fuel team roll into the NHRA New England Nationals with a recent runner-up finish and a very dominant race car. Two weeks ago Kalitta blasted through a tough field of Top Fuel teams at the rain delayed NHRA SpringNationals in Houston to race to his second final round of the season. The Mac Tools team will be heading to New England Dragway looking to capture some of the success they had early in the event’s history.
In 2014, the second year the NHRA was racing at the track just north of Boston, Kalitta drove to the final round. The previous year at the inaugural race the Mac Tools Top Fuel team was the No. 1 qualifier.
“We had some pretty good races the first couple of years we started coming up to New England,” said Kalitta. “We have run pretty well here we just need to get some more win lights on Sunday. This Mac Tools team has been really strong all season and we have a couple runner-up finishes and some low qualifiers. I have a lot of confidence coming into this race.”
This season Kalitta started off with a quarterfinal finish at the historic Gatornationals and followed that up with a runner-up at the Las Vegas Four-Wide National event. The team has continued to perform well and debuted the Mobil 1 TRD Top Fuel dragster in Houston for a one race sponsorship. The run to the final round was a solid showing for Kalitta’s team and definitely highlighted they were moving in the right direction.
“We had a great race in Houston with the Mobil1 TRD dragster,” said Kalitta. “The race car is the same underneath and we will be back in my red and white Mac Tools look this weekend. I feel we have a great handle on the performance side and I feel great driving. This weekend will be a big race for us in Epping for sure.”
Last year the New England Nationals was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic like so many NHRA national events and sporting events across the country. This year the track operators along with the NHRA worked to ensure the event would happen in 2021. The strength of the fan base and the continued reduction in virus cases played a large roll in getting the race on the schedule but additional sponsor support also helped.
“We have to thank the Tasca and DeJoria families for stepping up and working with their corporate partners to sponsor the race,” added Kalitta. “This market is an important one for the NHRA and we want to have a fun and safe race. I think this will be one of the big events for the sport as we move into the summer months.”
Kalitta and the Mac Tools team sit No. 5 in the Top Fuel point standings with just two rounds separating them from the No. 3 position. Three qualifying sessions will be contested this weekend beginning on Friday night with qualifying bonus points available in each session. The race will be nationally broadcast on Fox on Sunday afternoon.
“This will be our second national Fox broadcast this season and we want to go as many rounds as possible to show off for the fans watching at home,” said Kalitta. “Our last Fox broadcast at the Gatornationals had almost two million people watching the final. That kind of audience gets your competitive juices flowing for sure.”
2019 NHRA New England Nationals Highlights (event not contested in 2020): Qual. No. 3; Lost to Terry McMillen
Last Event Recap (2021 NHRA SpringNationals): RUNNER-UP; Qual. No. 9; Beat Brittany Force, Antron Brown, Shawn Langdon; Lost to Steve Torrence
Career Stats: 529 events, 522 starts, 719 round wins, 49 wins, 107 finals, 50 No. 1 qualifiers
Gatornationals: Qual. No. 4; Beat Arthur Allen; Lost to Justin Ashley
Las Vegas1: RUNNER-UP; Qual. No. 3; Beat Troy Buff and Rob Passey, Beat Shawn Langdon and Leah Pruett; Lost to Steve Torrence
Atlanta: Qual. No. 9; Lost to Antron Brown
Charlotte1: Qual. No. 12; Beat Josh Hart, Billy Torrence, Kyle Wurtzel; Lost to Brittany Force, Josh Hart
Houston: RUNNER-UP; Qual. No. 9; Beat Brittany Force, Antron Brown, Shawn Langdon; Lost to Steve Torrence
Langdon Tracking Down First Win of Season at New England Nationals
The last time Shawn Langdon was racing at the NHRA New England Nationals he was sitting behind the 11,000 horsepower motor of his Toyota Camry Funny Car. It was 2019 and Langdon raced to the final round beating Jim Campbell, Robert Hight and Tim Wilkerson before getting edged out by Matt Hagan. This year Langdon will be back in in New England racing the DHL Kalitta Air Top Fuel dragster with Connie Kalitta calling the tuning shots.
“When you are racing with Connie Kalitta as your crew chief you have a lot of confidence every time you go out on the track,” said Langdon, the 2020 U.S. Nationals champion. “We have been running really well most of the season and we are going rounds every race.”
Langdon started the season with a runner-up finish at the historic Gatornationals and has since collected two more semifinal finishes and a quarterfinal finish. Two weeks ago in Houston it was an all-Kalitta Motorsports semifinal with Langdon squaring off against teammate Doug Kalitta.
“You hate to race your teammate in any round except the final round,” said Langdon. “Both of our dragsters were running great in Houston and we just bumped up against each other in the semifinals. Doug is a great competitor and we both talk a lot between rounds.”
Langdon has also raced in a Top Fuel final round at the New England Nationals and it was a special season for the 15-time Top Fuel national event winner. In 2013 Langdon dominated the season on the way to his first Top Fuel world championship and his final round appearance at the inaugural national event in Epping was one of the many finals that contributed to his championship.
“I would love to get a win this weekend especially since we are right up at the top tier of the points,” said Langdon. “We have the Countdown this year but we are about three rounds out of second place and that No. 1 spot isn’t out of reach. You need to have some things go your way but I know this DHL Kalitta Air dragster can get some round wins.”
2019 NHRA New England Nationals Highlights (event not contested in 2020): In Funny Car, RUNNER-UP; Qual. No. 5; Beat Jim Campbell, Robert Hight, Tim Wilkerson; Lost to Matt Hagan
Last Event Recap (2021 NHRA SpringNationals): Qual. No. 7; Beat Josh Hart, Justin Ashley; Lost to Doug Kalitta
Career Stats: 272 events, 269 starts, 305 round wins, 17 wins, 35 finals, 19 No. 1 qualifiers; in Top Fuel: 224 events, 221 starts, 15 wins, 32 finals, 266 round wins, 19 No. 1 qualifiers
Gatornationals: RUNNER-UP; Qual. No. 6; Beat Doug Foley, Leah Pruett, Antron Brown; Lost to Josh Hart
Las Vegas1: Qual. No. 6; Beat Troy Buff and Rob Passey; Lost to Doug Kalitta and Steve Torrence
Atlanta: Qual. No. 11; Beat Leah Pruett, Mike Salinas; Lost to Steve Torrence
Charlotte1: Qual. No. 11; Lost to Antron Brown and Krista Baldwin
Houston: Qual. No. 7; Beat Josh Hart, Justin Ashley; Lost to Doug Kalitta
No. 2 in Points J.R. Todd Looking for Second 2021 Win
When J.R. Todd and the DHL Toyota Camry rolled into New England Dragway in 2019 they established themselves as the quickest Funny Car on the property running to the No. 1 qualifier position. This year, almost two years later Todd will be looking to add New England Nationals event winner to his resume. The 2018 NHRA Funny Car world champion, who is currently No. 2 in the Camping World Drag Racing Series Funny Car point standings, is looking to add his second win of the season this weekend.
“We have gotten off to a great start with this DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car,” said Todd, following a quarterfinal finish at the SpringNationals in Houston. “We won the first race of the season at the Gatornationals and followed that up with a semifinal finish in Atlanta and a runner-up in Charlotte at the Four-Wide Nationals. I feel really good about how well the team is working together and the kind of performance we are bringing to the races.”
Todd has only started one race from outside the top half of the field this season when he was the No. 9 qualifier in Las Vegas. He still managed to make a run to the second round of that event. So far he has collected three top six qualifiers including the No. 1 qualifier at the final Southern Nationals in Atlanta.
“We have been coming right out of the trailer with a good race car thanks to Todd Smith and Jon Oberhofer, my crew chiefs,” said Todd. “That just gives you a lot of confidence when you make that first run and get a good number. We have been able to get some of those small qualifying bonus points and also just get right up at the top of the ladder.”
Todd, who is closing in on 100 career races behind the wheel of his DHL Toyota Camry, is constantly working to improve as a driver. The Lawrenceburg, Indiana, native spends time between races working on his physical fitness and reaction time reflexes at PitFit, a specialty fitness center, frequented by a variety of motorsports veterans from IndyCar and NHRA.
“These race cars are so unpredictable you have to be prepared for anything when they take off from the starting line,” said Todd. “I try and get in as many sessions as possible at PitFit between the races and I really feel like it makes a difference. I am also really focusing on limiting distractions and doing the same routine every time I get inside this DHL Funny Car. All the little things add up to the difference between winning and losing a race.”
Todd will be seeking Funny Car win No. 11 this weekend when qualifying gets underway on Friday night. The race will be broadcast nationally on Fox Sunday beginning at 1:30 p.m. ET.
2019 NHRA New England Nationals Highlights (event not contested in 2020): Qual. No. 1; Beat Bye; Lost to Tim Wilkerson
Last Event Recap (2021 NHRA SpringNationals): Qual. No. 8; Beat John Force; Lost to Bob Tasca III
Career Stats: 240 events, 232 starts, 260 round wins, 19 wins, 37 finals, 13 No. 1 qualifiers; in Funny Car: 88 events, 88 starts, 10 wins, 17 finals, 112 round wins, 4 No. 1 qualifiers
Gatornationals: WINNER; Qual. No. 6; Beat Blake Alexander, Tim Wilkerson, Cruz Pedregon and Robert Hight
Las Vegas1: Qual. No. 9; Beat Cruz Pedregon and Jonnie Lindberg; Lost to Ron Capps and Bob Tasca III
Atlanta: Qual. No. 1; Beat Alexis DeJoria, bye; Lost to John Force
Charlotte1: RUNNER-UP; Qual. No.4; Beat Terry Haddock, Jim Campbell, Tim Wilkerson; Beat Mike McIntire, Terry Haddock; Lost to John Force, Beat Cruz Pedregon, Alexis DeJoria
Houston: Qual. No. 8; Beat John Force; Lost to Bob Tasca III