Richie Crampton and DHL Top Fuel Team Focused in Strong Effort in Seattle
The DHL Top Fuel dragster team and driver Richie Crampton are eager to get to Seattle and take advantage of the final race of the Western Swing. The team has scored back to back quarterfinal finishes in the previous two races and they are looking to breakthrough at Pacific Raceway.
“The past two races we just have run into one of the toughest drivers and teams out here,” said Crampton. “Steve Torrence and his Capco team have been running amazing and we just keep getting matched up with them early. You have to beat whoever is in the other lane and we have just had some tough draws.”
The DHL Top Fuel team has been showing flashes of greatness throughout the season. They picked up a huge win at the Gatornationals and they have consistently been top half qualifiers. In Epping they qualified No. 2 and raced to the semifinals only to be ousted by eventual winner Steve Torrence. The past two races have seen Crampton qualify in the top half, win first round and then drop close races to Torrence in the quarterfinals.
“There is no doubt that to be the best you have to beat the best,” said Crampton. “Every race against any opponent you learn something. I feel like even when we don’t get the win light we are making progress because we are getting data for the tune-up or I am getting more experience as a driver. You can’t get down out here because the races come at you too quickly. I put Sonoma behind me and right now all I am thinking about is the first qualifying session at Seattle.”
Crampton’s high point to date at the Northwest Nationals was his lone No. 1 qualifier at the track in 2015. He took out Washingtonian Ron Smith in the first round before being outrun by now teammate Shawn Langdon in the quarterfinals.
Crampton sits in eighth place in the Mello Yello point standing just 30 points out of seventh. He has a health five round lead over the driver in eleventh place.
2018 NHRA Northwest Nationals Highlights: Qual. No. 9; Beat Brittany Force; Lost to Steve Torrence
Last Event Recap (2019 NHRA Sonoma Nationals): Qual. No. 7; Beat Terry McMillen; Lost to Steve Torrence
Quotable: Crampton on heading to Seattle: “We have let a few races slip away from us on the Western Swing. We are getting some tough match-ups on race day. I want to get those things out of the way before we get to the U.S. Nationals and into the Countdown. This weekend in Seattle this DHL team is going to focus on getting a good start on Friday and taking that momentum through the whole race. We haven’t put three great days together since the Gatornationals and I know we can do that again.”
Career Stats: 118 events, 117 starts, 99 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
Denver: Qual. No. 8; Beat Austin Prock; Lost to Steve Torrence
Sonoma: Qual. No. 7; Beat Terry McMillen; Lost to Steve Torrence
Langdon and Global Electronic Technology Team Looking To Continue Consistency
As Shawn Langdon and the Global Electronic Technology team head to the Pacific Northwest they will be building on some serious performance momentum. Last weekend Langdon recorded his quickest elapsed time in a Funny Car during the Sonoma Nationals Friday night qualifying session. The blistering 3.875 second run put the Global Electronic Technology Toyota Camry Funny Car in the No. 2 qualifier spot. He took advantage of that starting position and raced to the quarterfinals and solidified his Top Ten position.
Over the last five races Langdon has qualified in the top half of the field at four of those races and has been able to avoid first round losses at all those events. This consistency has helped the second year Funny Car driver maintain his position in the Top Ten with only three races left in the regular season. In the mix of those five races Langdon has record two No. 2 qualifiers and raced to a runner-up finish in Epping, New Hampshire.
“I really think we turned a corner after Norwalk,” said Langdon. “We stayed and tested and we figured some things out. (Crew chiefs) Del (Worsham) and Nicky (Boninfante) know this car really well and they have just been working on little things to make us quicker and more consistent.”
Langdon’s history at the Northwest Nationals includes two runner-up finishes in Top fuel. His most recent was a close race against J.R. Todd in 2015. Langdon also raced in a final against reigning Top Fuel world champion Steve Torrence in 2012.
“J.R. and I raced in the final at Seattle a few years ago,” said Langdon. “I would love to get another shot at him in our Toyota Camrys this year. He has been a big help to me as I am learning how to drive Funny Car. We talk after just about every run. He is a great teammate and champion for sure.”
As the Western Swing comes to an end and eyes begin to shift to the U.S. Nationals and the Countdown Langdon knows the competition will only get tougher. He has a comfortable 168 point lead over the driver in eleventh place. The final race of the regular season will be points and a half so the focus has to remain on going rounds and not slipping.
“This is when it starts to get exciting. You are starting to see people ask more about the points but my attitude is if you are going rounds you will be OK. I am glad we are qualifying so well because that gives you confidence going into race day. I am really just working on staying focused and doing my job in this Global Electronic Technology Camry Funny Car.”
2018 NHRA Northwest Highlights: Qualified No. 6; Beat Jack Beckman; Lost to Courtney Force
Last Event Recap (2019 NHRA Sonoma Nationals): Qual. No. 2; Terry Haddock; Lost to John Force
Quotable: Langdon on finishing the Western Swing on a positive note: “The Western Swing is a tough three races. If you can’t win all three I definitely think you want to win or do well at Seattle. You can carry some momentum into the last two races of the regular season. You want to go rounds so you have a point cushion heading into the U.S. Nationals.”
Career Stats: 247 events, 244 starts, 277 round wins, 15 wins, 32 finals, 18 No. 1 qualifiers; in Funny Car 39 events, 39 starts, 27 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 No. 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
Denver: Qual. No. 9; Beat Tim Wilkerson; Lost to Robert Hight
Sonoma: Qual. No. 2; Terry Haddock; Lost to John Force
Mac Tools and Doug Kalitta Make Seattle Success Top Priority
Doug Kalitta and the Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster team have had a lot of success throughout the Western Swing over the years. They have dominated at Sonoma and Denver but Seattle has been a tricky race track for the veteran driver. He has raced to four final rounds and finally broke through for his first and lone victory in 2014. This weekend at the Northwest Nationals Kalitta would like to add one more victory to that total.
“We have run well for a lot of years in Seattle,” said Kalitta. “Getting the win in 2014 over Antron Brown was big. I would like to get another win there this weekend and wrap up the Western Swing on a high note.”
The Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster narrowly missed being parked in the winner’s circle in 2003, 2000 and 1999. In 2010 Kalitta blasted to the top of the field as the No. 1 qualifier. Those accomplishments are on Kalitta’s mind, but first and foremost is going rounds on Sunday and picking up more wins.
“It has been a while since we were in the winner’s circle and you definitely miss it,” said Kalitta. “We are right there and we just need to get over the hump. This class is so tough you can’t afford to make even the smallest mistake. The thing that gives me a lot of confidence is how good this Mac Tools team is from top to bottom. Every guy is busting his tail to make this dragster run. I know we will start seeing more success soon.”
With three races left in the regular season Kalitta and the Mac Tool team are in fifth place in the Mello Yello points standings. Only 27 points separate the teams from second to fifth so anyone could close the gap. When points get reset after the U.S. Nationals the currently almost insurmountable lead of Steve Torrence will be reduced to 30 points if you can secure the No. 2 spot.
“I think we are in a good position in the points but you can always do better,” said Kalitta. “We would love to be in that No. 2 spot after the U.S. Nationals and that is definitely doable. The first step is to get some round wins and maybe a win here in Seattle. That is going to be our first goal.”
2018 NHRA Northwest Nationals Highlights: Qual. No. 2; Beat Bill Litton; Lost to Mike Salinas
Last Event Recap (2019 NHRA Sonoma Nationals): Qual. No. 5; Beat Scott Palmer; Lost to Antron Brown
Quotable: Kalitta on heading to Seattle: “We won there a few years ago after getting to a lot of finals early in my career. That track can be really quick or it can be really tricky. I am looking forward to getting this Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster back on the track. We make some positive strides in Sonoma and I think we can do even better in Seattle.”
Career Stats: 504 events, 497 starts, 670 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
Denver: Qual. No. 10; Lost to Clay Millican
Sonoma: Qual. No. 5; Beat Scott Palmer; Lost to Antron Brown
J.R. Todd and DHL Camry Looking for Exciting Western Swing Finale in Seattle
The Western Swing has proven to be a worthy adversary for reigning Funny Car champion J.R. Todd. The DHL Toyota Camry has not experienced the level of success they were shooting for two weeks ago when the tough three race stretch got underway in Denver. Heading into the Northwest Nationals Todd and the DHL team will be looking to grab at least one win on the west coast before heading back east to wrap up the NHRA regular season.
“Yeah, we struggled in Denver and Sonoma,” said Todd. “I have a great race car. I made a mistake in the first round in Denver that cost us but you have to look at what happened and make sure you get better. This is an awesome group of guys over here with the Yella Fellas. We never get down on ourselves. We are looking at finishing the regular season strong and then focusing on the Countdown.”
Todd is in a unique position when he comes back to many of the NHRA tracks. As a former Top Fuel winner he has the chance to “double-up” by adding a Funny Car victory to his resume. At Sonoma Todd is one of only two drivers who have won both nitro categories joining NHRA legend Don Prudhomme on that list. This weekend adding a Funny Car win would add Todd’s name to a small group that included teammate Del Worsham and Countdown competitor Tommy Johnson Jr.
“It is cool to see who has won in Top Fuel and Funny Car at a lot of these events,” said Todd. “They are two different race cars but it makes for an interesting stat. It would be nice to join that list in Seattle. The first thing we need to do is qualify well and then make a lot of runs on Sunday.”
In 2015 it was Todd getting the final win light of the day over now teammate Shawn Langdon in the Top Fuel final. A rematch in Funny Car would be just what the doctor ordered for Todd and his DHL team. They are currently sitting in seventh place in the points just 35 points out of sixth. The team has a very realistic shot at moving up to fourth place by the time the regular season winds down.
“We know we aren’t going to jump over four teams this weekend in the points but we can definitely make up ground on a few of them in Seattle,” said Todd. “We are really getting geared up to do well this weekend then take a quick break before Brainerd and Indy. It will be a battle for the championship for sure.”
2018 NHRA Northwest Nationals Highlights: Qual. No. 13; Beat Bob Tasca III; Lost to Tim Wilkerson
Last Event Recap (2019 NHRA Sonoma Nationals): Qual. No. 11; Lost to Matt Hagan
Quotable: J.R. Todd on heading to Seattle: “I am just ready to get this DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car back in the winner’s circle. It has been a while and we have just come through a bad stretch. We are going to keep battling and I think Seattle would be a great place to get back on the winning track. I have won there in Top Fuel and I would love to pick up a Funny Car win there this week.
Career Stats: 215 events, 207 starts, 227 round wins, 18 wins, 32 finals, 12 No. 1 qualifiers; in Funny Car: 63 events, 63 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
Denver: Qual. No. 11; Lost to John Force
Sonoma: Qual. No. 11; Lost to Matt Hagan