Doug Kalitta Racing Toyota Dragster at Virginia Nationals
This weekend at the Virginia Nationals Top Fuel standout Doug Kalitta will return to the Toyota Top Fuel dragster he raced during the Houston SpringNationals. The partnership between Toyota, Mac Tools and Team Kalitta strengthens with every run down the track. Kalitta will be one of the most veteran Top Fuel drivers competing this weekend with eight previous appearances at Virginia Motorsports Park.
“I think having the experience of racing at Virginia Motorsports Park many times over the years gives this Toyota team an advantage and it also helps all the Team Kalitta race cars,” said Kalitta. “It was great to come back here last year and put on a good show.”
The two-time finalist and 2007 race winner knows that this historic track can be fast and provide exciting racing action for the fans. Last year when the event was added back to the NHRA schedule after an eight year hiatus, a packed house watched as Kalitta raced to the final round before his runner-up finish to Steve Torrence stopped his bid for a second Virginia National victory.
“We had a really good race car on race day last year. In the final we were right there with the winner,” said Kalitta. “It was great to go rounds at a race where we were reintroducing the fans to the sport. I know we had a lot of people in the pits all weekend that were really excited the NHRA was back in Virginia.”
Kalitta’s lone win at the race track located just over 100 miles from the nation’s capital Washington D.C., came in 2007 when he ironically started with his worst qualifying effort (No. 11) at Virginia Motorsports Park. Kalitta raced his Mac Tools dragster past Dave Grubnic, Larry Dixon, Doug Foley and Melanie Troxel for the win.
“The win in 2007 was a good win for us. We definitely would like to improve on last year’s performance and get one more win light. I think this season we have been performing really well and we just need to keep turning on win lights. I would love to get this Toyota Top Fuel dragster in the winner’s circle this weekend,” added Kalitta
In his career at Virginia Motorsports Park Kalitta has qualified top-half seven times and raced to the semifinals on four occasions. Over that span of races the veteran driver has only suffered a first round loss once, coming up short as the No. 5 qualifier in 2008 to Bob Vandergriff.
2018 Virginia Nationals Highlights: Qualified No. 4; RUNNER-UP; Beat Dan Mercier, Leah Pritchett, Richie Crampton; Lost to Steve Torrence
Last Event Recap (2019 Charlotte Southern Nationals): Qual. 3; Lost to Shawn Reed
Quotable: Kalitta on racing Toyota Top Fuel dragster: “A few weeks ago in Charlotte Team Kalitta was given the chance to tour the TRD facility. We get so much support from TRD I know it has contributed to a lot of our wins and championships. When were at the facility in Charlotte I was able to get into their NASCAR simulator and it was amazing. I can’t thank Toyota enough for the support they give Team Kalitta and I am excited to be back in the Toyota dragster this weekend in Richmond.”
Career Stats: 496 events, 489 starts, 663 round wins, 45 wins, 97 finals, 49 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
Noteworthy: With a win Kalitta will move into second place all-time for Top Fuel victories at Virginia Motorsports Park
Crampton and DHL Dragster Eager To Go More Rounds at Virginia Nationals
Richie Crampton and the DHL Top Fuel dragster know that when they are consistent they are just about unstoppable. The experienced team led by legendary driver and crew chief Connie Kalitta knows they have a race car that can qualify in the top half and win rounds on Sunday. They have shown that this season with a win at the historic Gatornationals and successful races in Las Vegas and Charlotte. The key for their continued success is getting some momentum throughout qualifying and race day.
“I have so much confidence in this DHL team,” said Crampton. “I go into every race ready to perform in qualifying and go rounds on race day. We have done that at a handful of races and then missed the mark a little at others. That was the early part of the season and we are moving into the summer. This is where we are really looking forward to performing.”
At the Virginia Nationals last year Richie Crampton was getting his first look at the race track located just south of Richmond, Virginia. The young Australian was solid in qualifying and entered race day as the No. 8 Top Fuel dragster. On Sunday he dispatched Dom Lagana, Tony Schumacher and was eliminated by teammate Doug Kalitta in the semifinals. That successful race day snapped string of first round losses and moved the team into the Top Ten.
“I was really pleased with our effort at the Virginia Nationals last season,” said Crampton. “We had a great race car and the only thing that stopped us from going to the final was our teammate Doug Kalitta. If we can’t go rounds we definitely want to see our Team Kalitta cars succeeding.”
This season Crampton has been a regular in the Mello Yello Top Ten and has continued to make solid runs on the race track. He is also continuing to focus on his driving skills behind the wheel.
“Everyone at Team Kalitta works daily to get better at their jobs. I know my crew guys are giving me a great race car. I am constantly working to improve as a driver. All the drivers get together and talk about how to be better on the tree and be better drivers. This is a great team over here and this DHL team is continuing to grind it out for that next win,” added Crampton.
2018 Virginia Nationals Highlights: Qualified No. 8; Beat Dom Lagana, Tony Schumacher; Lost to Doug Kalitta
Last Event Recap (2019 Southern Nationals): Qual. No. 7; Lost Scott Palmer
Quotable: Crampton on returning to Richmond: “Last year the only car that could beat us was our teammate Doug Kalitta. That is a pretty good position to be in. We just need to get on the opposite side of the ladder from him and hopefully we can meet again but this time in the final round.”
Career Stats: 110 events, 109 starts, 93 round wins, 9 wins, 11 finals, 5 no. 1 qualifiers
Winternationals: Qual. No. 6, Lost to Terry McMillen round one
Arizona Nationals: Qual. No. 15, Lost to Terry McMillen round one
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. 12; Lost to Doug Kalitta and Leah Pritchett
Atlanta: Qual. 7; Lost to Scott Palmer
Virginia Nationals Next Up For Langdon and Global Electronic Technology Funny Car
The Global Electronic Technology Toyota Camry Funny Car and driver Shawn Langdon are excited to be returning to the Virginia NHRA Nationals. After picking up his first career Funny Car win at the Charlotte Four-Wide Nationals earlier this season Langdon has been focused on win number two and advancing up the Mello Yello point standings. The Charlotte win propelled Langdon into the Top Ten and he has held onto that position as the team heads into Richmond for the eighth race of the season.
“It is a long season and your goal first and foremost is to make the Countdown,” said Langdon. “You have to be in the Top Ten to race for the Mello Yello championship. You also want to win as many races as possible. We picked up that first win in Charlotte and that was big for this Global Electronic Technology Toyota team. Now we are looking for win number two.”
Last year when the NHRA returned to Virginia Motorsports Park after a decade long absence many of the teams and drivers were getting their first look at the race track. Langdon was making a return visit, albeit a decade after his first race and in a new category. In 2009 Langdon qualified No. 8 in Top Fuel but was upset by current teammate Doug Kalitta in their first round match-up. The experience did give Langdon some confidence coming into the race last season.
“We raced here in Top Fuel a while ago and then we didn’t come back for a few years,” said Langdon. “The fans were great in this part of the country so I am glad this race is back on the schedule. I think getting to come back and being in the Funny Car was a challenge last year. I was still figuring some things out. I have a lot of confidence coming into this race this week.”
In 2018 as a rookie Funny Car driver Langdon was still getting a handle on sitting behind the 11,000 horsepower engine when he competed at the Virginia Nationals. He qualified well, heading into race day as the No. 9 Funny Car but was narrowly defeated by Jim Campbell. Langdon had a lead heading to the finish line but his Funny Car began losing cylinders and he was unable to hang on for the win.
“The good thing about racing with Team Kalitta is how much support every team gives each other,” said Langdon. “We win together and we go through the tough times together. There were a lot of guys pulling for me to get that first win and we are all working every day to get another win for Global Electronic Technology and Team Kalitta.”
In advance of the Virginia Nationals Langdon will be spending Thursday with Richmond area media as part of the NHRA advance media tour. It will be Langdon’s first chance to talk with the area radio and television stations about his season as well as the success of his team.
“You love to be able to tell the media about the excitement of NHRA Drag Racing and all the good things going on with Team Kalitta,” added Langdon. “Every one of my teammates has won this year and we are all in the Top Ten. That shows you the strength of this team and the support we have from our partners like Toyota and Global Electronic Technology.”
2018 Virginia Nationals Highlights: Qualified No. 9; Lost to Jim Campbell
Last Event Recap (2019 Southern Nationals): Qual. No. 6; Lost to Ron Capps
Quotable: Langdon on racing Richmond: “From here on out we will be racing almost every other weekend and lots of back to back race. You want to get some momentum going into the summer and I think a great place to start is the Virginia Nationals.”
Career Stats: 239 events, 236 starts, 269 round wins, 15 wins, 31 finals, 18 no. 1 qualifiers; in Funny Car 31 events, 31 starts, 19 round wins, 1 wins, 1 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 Wilkseron 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
Noteworthy: Langdon became just the 17th racer to win in both Top Fuel and Funny Car when he picked up his first Funny Car win in Charlotte.
DHL and J.R. Todd Ready To Seize Day Virginia Nationals
The reigning Funny Car champion J.R. Todd is ready to get back to the racing action this weekend at the Virginia Nationals. Last year at the relaunched event Todd raced his DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car to the semifinals from the No. 4 spot before losing to the eventual event winner.
“It was cool to be back in Virginia last year,” said Todd. “I remember early in my career racing Top Fuel there and the fans were always really excited to check out the drag races. We had a good run in the DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car last year but we just fell off a little in the semifinals.”
This year on the heels of a Las Vegas victory Todd has been consistent but is still looking for his second win of the season. Coming into Richmond this season Todd has the same number of round wins and only one more loss than his championship season last year at this point. The difference this year is more first round wins including a final round appearance at Phoenix and the Vegas win.
“Man, we have really been running consistently but we just need to get one or two things to go our way to get over that hump,” said Todd. “Getting the win in Las Vegas was big especially after the runner-up in Phoenix. Every one of these crew guys is putting so much energy and hard work into this race car we all want to see those win lights.”
Two weeks ago in Atlanta Todd and the DHL Toyota Funny Car team had his best qualifying performance of the season going into race day as the No. 2 qualifier. Their previously best performances were a pair of No. 4 qualifiers in Houston and Las Vegas1. At the Southern Nationals Todd was the provisional No. 1 qualifier on Friday and unfortunately only got one run on Saturday before rain moved in.
“We had a great race car in Atlanta in qualifying,” said Todd. “That Friday night run was intense. It was a little dark which makes me nervous but I held on and we got a great run. I would have loved to have had a second shot on Saturday to get the No. 1 back but you can’t control the weather. With good conditions in Richmond I think we can run right up at the top of qualifying.”
Todd has the benefit of also having experience on the track behind the wheel of a Top Fuel dragster. The Funny Car champ competed in three races from 2006-2008 in Top Fuel. His best Top Fuel finish was 2006 when he qualified No. 2 and racked up a semifinal finish.
“I do think the more runs you have on any track the more comfortable you are in the race car. Getting those races in Top Fuel even though they were a long time ago helps me stay focused and be comfortable. I will be even more ready to go this weekend now that I have some experience from last year in this DHL Funny Car,” added Todd.
2018 Virginia Nationals Highlights: Qualified No. 4; Beat Bob Tasca III, Del Worsham; Lost to Courtney Force
Last Event Recap (2019 Southern Nationals): Qual. No. 2; Beat Jim Campbell; Lost to Tommy Johnson Jr.
Quotable: J.R. Todd on returning to Richmond: “You can’t say enough about how many people turned out last year for the race. The pits were packed and race day was intense with full grandstands. I think we will see an even bigger crowd this year which just shows you the strength of NHRA.”
Career Stats: 207 events, 199 starts, 220 round wins, 18 wins, 31 finals, 10 no. 1 qualifiers; in Funny Car: 55 events, 55 starts, 9 wins, 11 finals, 71 round wins, 1 no. 1 qualifier
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.