Pre-Race #ThunderValleyNats


Heading into the fifth race of the Countdown Team Kalitta has all three teams racing for world championships. Doug Kalitta and Shawn Langdon will be looking add a third Bristol, win to their records.  J.R. Todd, No. 5  driver in the Funny Car point standings, will be looking to continue his momentum in the Countdown..

Doug Kalitta and Mac Tools Looking for Third Thunder Valley Nationals Title

Doug Kalitta and the Mac Tools Top Fuel team are ready to get back to Bristol Dragway for the first time since 2019. The 49-time Top Fuel winner has dominated the Thunder Valley Nationals over the past two decades and the team is eager hit the track in Thunder Valley. This season Kalitta has picked up two runner-up finishes and as the Countdown playoffs come to close the perennial championship contender is looking for a strong finish over the final three races.
“I am looking forward to getting to Bristol Dragway,” said Kalitta, who last weekend raced to the quarterfinals at the Texas Fall Nationals. “We have had some really good races there and it is a great facility. You know when you are racing a track owned by Bruton and Marcus Smith everything will be first class.”
Kalitta has raced to six final rounds over his career at the Thunder Valley Nationals. Most recently he was runner-up in 2014. His reign of terror at the track goes back to three wins over the course of five years when he took the title in 2001, 2005 and 2006. Three years later he raced to his fourth final round in Tennessee and added another runner-up in 2012. For the driver from Michigan the mountains of Tennessee have been a great place to hit the throttle on race day.
“I don’t know what it is about racing at Thunder Valley, but we run pretty good at Bristol,” said Kalitta. “You have great fans, and the track is usually really quick. You can hear the power of these nitro cars in the valley and that is pretty cool.”
At this last appearance at Bristol Dragway Kalitta and the Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster started from the No. 1 spot and raced to the semifinals. The team is celebrating 20 years with primary sponsor Mac Tools and that relationship combined with his success at tracks like Bristol Dragway goes a long way for the veteran driver.
“We have been with Mac Tools for all our races here at the Thunder Velley Nationals,” said Kalitta. “They have been a great sponsor and partner. I would definitely like to keep the winning momentum going this weekend for sure.”
Qualifying will get underway on Friday, October 15 at 5:30 p.m. and race day will start on Sunday at 11:30 p.m. ET.
2019 NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals Highlights (event not contested in 2020): Qual. No. 1, Beat Antron Cameron Ferre, Terry McMillen; Lost to Mike Salinas
Last Event Recap (2021 Texas NHRA Fall Nationals): Qual. No. 10; Beat Antron Brown; Lost to Steve Torrence
Career Stats: 541 events, 534 starts, 723 round wins, 49 wins, 107 finals, 50 No. 1 qualifiers
2021 Season: 
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
Epping: Qual. No. 5; Beat Shawn Langdon, Lost to Mike Salinas
Norwalk: Qual. No. 11; Lost to Antron Brown      
Denver: Qual. No. 4; Lost to Leah Pruett
Sonoma: Qual. No. 8; Beat Mike Salinas; Lost to Steve Torrence
Pomona1: Qual. No. 6; Lost to Clay Millican
Topeka: Qual. No. 9; Lost to Clay Millican
Brainerd: Qual. No. 9; Lost to Clay Millican
Indianapolis: Qual. No. 3; Beat Krista Baldwin; Lost to Billy Torrence
Reading: Qual. No. 9; Lost to Justin Ashley
Charlotte2: Qual. No. 12; Lost to Steve Torrence
St. Louis: Qual. No. 9; Lost to Tripp Tatum
Dallas: Qual. No. 10; Beat Antron Brown; Lost to Steve Torrence


J.R. Todd Ready to Use Thunder Valley Nationals Success to Chase Championship

Every race in important during the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series. Throughout the regular season teams are jockeying for position to qualify got the Countdown as one of the Top Ten teams. Once the Countdown seven-race playoffs begin drivers are working to move up or hold onto their point leads. J.R. Todd and the DHL Toyota Camry team are looking at this critical race at the Thunder Valley Nationals as a turning point in their championship aspirations. With three races left and sitting in fifth place they could easily make a move to get within striking distance of the Funny Car point leaders but that move must happen now.

“We have been in a tight group with the top Funny Car teams all season and even into the Countdown,” said Todd, a 10-time Funny Car national event winner. “Over the past couple of races a few cars have gotten some separation, but we are still in the mix. I love racing at Bristol Dragway and I am looking for some good runs this weekend.”
Todd started the season with a win at the historic Gatornationals and has showcased his team’s performance and his driving skills throughout the rest of the year. The 2018 Funny Car world champion added three more runner-up finishes to his 2021 record including back-to-back finals in Pomona and Topeka heading into the Countdown. During the playoffs Todd and his DHL Toyota team have been undefeated in first round match-up regardless of their qualifying position and the overall consistency of the team is something Todd feels will pay dividends over the final playoff stretch.
“We have a really good race car and we can definitely race with anyone out here,” said Todd. “All we need to do is make some solid runs in qualifying and then race the track on Sunday.”
Todd has collected some dramatic round wins throughout the season going back to his pedaling job at the Gatornationals to get his first win of 2021 against Robert Hight. In the first round of the U.S. Nationals his race car smoked the tires early and he once again got off the throttle and then chased down Jim Campbell for the win in dramatic fashion. He has also collected numerous wins via the hole shot by grabbing a starting line advantage with a superior reaction time.
“This is a team effort and everyone over on this DHL Toyota team contributes,” said Todd. “I have won some races pedaling this Toyota Funny Car and there have been a lot of times when Todd’s (crew chief Todd Smith) tune up has just out run our opponent. We are all working together with one goal in mind and that is winning every race we enter. We have three more races left this season and we are looking to try and win all three.”
2019 NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals Highlights (event not contested in 2020): Qual. No. 5; Beat Terry Haddock; Lost to Jack Beckman
Last Event Recap (2021 Texas NHRA Fall Nationals): Qual. No. 8; Beat Tim Wilkerson, Robert Hight; Lost to Matt Hagan
Career Stats: 251 events, 243 starts, 276 round wins, 19 wins, 39 finals, 14 No. 1 qualifiers; in Funny Car: 99 events, 99 starts, 10 wins, 19 finals, 128 round wins, 5 No. 1 qualifiers
2021 Season: 
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
Epping: Qual. No. 9; Beat Cruz Pedregon, Lost to John Force
Norwalk: Qual. No. 9; Beat Mike McIntire, Lost to Ron Capps
Denver: Qual. No. 7; Lost to Bob Tasca III
Sonoma: Qual. No. 12; Beat John Force; Lost to Robert Hight
Pomona1: RUNNER-UP; Qual. No. 7; Beat Jeff Diehl, Robert Hight, Jim Campbell; Lost to Ron Capps
Topeka: RUNNER-UP; Qual. No. 1; Beat Bye, Ron Capps, Blake Alexander; Lost to John Force
Brainerd: Qual. No. 11; Beat Robert Hight, Tim Wilkerson; Lost to Cruz Pedregon
Indianapolis: Qual. No. 5; Beat Jim Campbell; Lost to Cruz Pedregon
Reading: Qual. No. 7; Beat Alexis DeJoria, Cruz Pedregon; Lost to Tommy Johnson Jr.
Charlotte2: Qual. No. 6; Beat Mike McIntire; Lost to Cruz Pedregon
St. Louis: Qual. No. 9; Beat Tim Wilkerson; Lost to Matt Hagan
Dallas: Qual. No. 8; Beat Tim Wilkerson, Robert Hight; Lost to Matt Hagan


Third Thunder Valley Title on the Line for Shawn Langdon and DHL Kalitta Air Top Fuel

This weekend at the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals Shawn Langdon will be looking to take home his third Top Fuel Wally from Bristol Dragway. The 2013 NHRA Top Fuel champion won the event in 2014 and 2016 and he would like nothing more than to see four win lights on Sunday in his DHL Kalitta Air Top Fuel dragster that is tuned by drag racing legend Connie Kalitta. In 2015 Kalitta was recognized as a Thunder Valley Legend for his contributions to growing drag racing in the area as well as setting the NHRA Top Fuel speed record in 1965 at Bristol Dragway at a speed of 209.72 mph.
“It is an honor to drive a race car tuned by Connie,” said Langdon. “He is a living legend, and you know that when you strap in you will be in a fast and quick race car. I know we have the capability to go to the top of the field every time we roll to the starting line.”
The DHL Kalitta Air Top Fuel team raced to the final round of the historic Gatornationals to start the season and throughout the rest of the year they have been making solid runs and collecting win lights on Sunday. Four more semifinal finishes throughout the season kept them solidly in the Top Ten heading into the Countdown playoff races. They are looking to add to those win totals over the final three races of the season starting with the Thunder Valley Nationals
“We haven’t had the success we were looking for in the Countdown but there are three races left for us to show what this team is capable of,” said Langdon. “I have won here a couple times and we have all the pieces we need to go rounds. It just needs to line up for us on Sunday. The real key is to get a good run Friday night.”
Each team will get three shots at the track to grab one of the sixteen qualified positions with Funny Car and Top Fuel making their first runs beginning at 5:30 p.m. ET. Two more sessions follow on Saturday at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Final eliminations will begin on Sunday at 11:30 a.m. ET.
2019 NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals Highlights (event not contested in 2020): In Funny Car, Qual. No. 2; Beat Jeff Diehl; Lost to Ron Capps
Last Event Recap (2021 Texas NHRA Fall Nationals):  Qual. No. 9; Lost to Clay Millican
Career Stats: 284 events, 281 starts, 310 round wins, 17 wins, 35 finals, 19 No. 1 qualifiers; in Top Fuel: 236 events, 233 starts, 15 wins, 32 finals, 271 round wins, 19 No. 1 qualifiers
2021 Season: 
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
Epping: Qual. No. 8; Lost to Doug Kalitta
Norwalk: Qual. No. 16; Lost to Steve Torrence
Denver: Qual. No. 8; Lost to Clay Millican
Sonoma: Qual. No. 9; Beat Clay Millican; Lost to Antron Brown
Pomona1: Qual. No. 5; Beat Jim Maroney; Lost to Antron Brown
Topeka: Qual. No. 7; Beat Antron Brown, Billy Torrence; Lost to Clay Millican
Brainerd: Qual. No. 7; Lost to Antron Brown
Indianapolis: Qual. No. 16; Lost to Brittany Force
Reading: Qual. No. 11; Beat Mike Salinas; Lost to Billy Torrence
Charlotte2: Qual. No. 14; Lost to Clay Millican
St. Louis: Qual. No. 14; Lost to Steve Torrence
Dallas: Qual. No. 9; Lost to Clay Millican