Pre-Race #WinterNats

JR Todd

Heading into the  2022 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season opener J.R. Todd will be campaigning a brand new DHL Toyota GR Supra Funny Car. Doug Kalitta will race his Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster with new chew chiefs Alan Johnson and Brian Husen while Shawn Langdon will pilot the familiar yellow and red DHL Kalitta Air Top Fuel dragster led by Connie Kalitta, Kurt Elliott and new addition Jason McCulloch.

Doug Kalitta and Mac Tools Looking for Another Strong Start at Pomona Winternationals

Heading into the NHRA Winternationals this weekend veteran driver and perennial championship contender Doug Kalitta is as enthusiastic as the 49-time Top Fuel national event winner has ever been. An off-season addition of world championship tuner Alan Johnson along with crew chief Brian Husen to lead the Mac Tools dragster team has Kalitta, a five-time runner-up for the championship, confident in his team’s chances.
“My excitement level to get this season started ranks right up there when I look back at my career,” said Kalitta during the pre-season test session in Phoenix. “I am happy we have the teams that we do for all our racecars with the additional of Alan and Brian on the Mac Tools dragster and Jason (McCulloch) over on the DHL dragster with Kurt (Elliott) and Connie (Kalitta). There are a lot of good dragsters and good Funny Cars and I like our chances with the teams we have assembled.”

Last year the Winternationals were delayed until July but the previous five season when the race was contested in the traditional month of February Kalitta and the Mac Tools team were a force to be reckoned with. They raced to five consecutive final rounds from 2016-2020 and from 2018-2020 Kalitta took all the win lights on Sunday. Both of those streaks are Winternationals’ records.

“Pomona has so much history and seeing Connie have success there when I was growing up makes it a special track for me,” said Kalitta. “That place just means a lot to me. It is just a cool place to race and start the season. I have been very fortunate to have a good racecar that has gone there and won rounds and races there the last couple of years. I would love to go back there and keep that February win streak going.”

Kalitta has raced and won with some of the best crew chiefs in the sport over his career. He has never finished outside of the Top Ten and has consistently been in championship contention almost every season of his career. The new direction of the team will jump start one of the most successful race teams in NHRA history and that fact is not lost on Kalitta.

“This whole year is going to be great,” said Kalitta. “This is an opportunity of a lifetime for me to work with Alan and Brian. I just want to have fun with it. All my guys are excited about the possibilities, and we are just ready to get the season started and see what we can do.”

Last year Kalitta celebrated 20 years with long time sponsor Mac Tools and the familiar red, white and black dragster will be back on the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series. The consistency of the sponsor and the crew who meticulously build and rebuild Kalitta’s 11,000 horsepower land rocket will hopefully prove to be the magic bullet for success in 2022.

“This Mac Tool dragster is a newer racecar so everything is pretty much in the same place,” said Kalitta. “The brakes are a little different and I like them better. It is a comfortable racecar and it drives really well. The guys have done an incredible job getting us ready for a successful season. I can’t wait to get to Pomona and then to Phoenix. These two races will hopefully set the pace for a great season for our Mac Tools team.”

Last season Kalitta raced to two final rounds and wrapped up the season with a quarterfinal finish at the Auto Club Finals in Pomona. Now just two months later Kalitta will be looking to reboot his hot streak at the Winternationals with qualifying beginning this Friday afternoon.

2021 NHRA Winternationals Highlights: Qual. No. 6, Lost to Clay Millican

Last Event Recap (2021 Auto Club Finals): Qual. No. 10; Beat Josh Hart; Lost to Steve Torrence
Career Stats: 544 events, 537 starts, 723 round wins, 49 wins, 107 finals, 50 No. 1 qualifiers

JR Todd

New Look Toyota GR Supra Has J.R. Todd Fired Up for 2022 NHRA Season

J.R. Todd and the DHL Toyota GR Supra Funny Car team would like to duplicate last year’s start to begin the 2022 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season. In 2021 Todd took the win at the historic NHRA Gatornationals in dramatic fashion winning the final round with a spectacular display of driving skill, pedaling his 11,000 horsepower Funny Car to victory. This year the Toyota backed Funny Car team will be celebrating fifteen years with primary sponsor DHL and Todd is excited to be carrying on a winning tradition that saw him capture the 2018 NHRA Funny Car world championship.
“It is a long season for sure but it sure is nice to kick start the season with a win like we did last year in Gainesville” said Todd, ten-time Funny Car national event winner. “It would be nice to go to Pomona and pick up a win. That is one of our ‘Majors’ and is a race I definitely want to win in my DHL Toyota Supra Funny Car. You can’t win or lose the championship in Pomona but is a good morale boost to get that first win of the season.”

Todd will bring a brand-new Toyota GR Supra Funny Car to the starting line on Friday afternoon for the first round of qualifying at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona. Thousands of man hours went into the design, construction and ultimate creation of this racecar that turned heads when it was unveiled at the final event of the 2021 NHRA season. Since that time Todd, along with Toyota Gazoo Racing North America specialist and his two crew chiefs Todd Smith and Jon Oberhofer have worked tirelessly to find a consistent tune-up. Two test sessions have showed steady improvement both with elapsed time and speed performance and Todd feels more comfortable with every pass. His DHL team has also added some new crew members, so the dawning of a news season has everyone focused on success.

“We have three brand new guys and added two experienced guys in new positions,” said Todd. “It feels like a brand-new team but getting some time to test in West Palm and then testing in Phoenix has been great and I have a lot of confidence in all of them. It starts at the top with Todd and Jon O. and Chris Forton steering the ship with the crew guys.”

Last year in addition to Todd’s win at the Gatornationals the team picked up three additional runner-up finishes including the 2021 edition of the Winternationals contested in July. Todd also collected two No. 1 qualifiers and was in the championship hunt until the very end of the season. This year with so many new elements the veteran driver is focusing on taking each race one round at a time.

“I am always excited at the beginning of the season,” said Todd. “You can’t get overly excited just because of how you did in testing. There are a lot of good cars and you really don’t know who is doing what. We have been making good runs and this Supra is going down the track. That is encouraging and gives everybody confidence going into Pomona.”

2021 NHRA Winternationals Highlights: RUNNER-UP; Qual. No. 7; Beat Jeff Diehl, Robert Hight and Jim Campbell; Lost to Ron Capps
Last Event Recap (2021 Auto Club Finals): Qual. No. 8; Lost to Bob Tasca III
Career Stats: 255 events, 247 starts, 281 round wins, 19 wins, 40 finals, 14 No. 1 qualifiers; In Funny Car: 103 events, 103 starts, 10 wins, 20 finals, 133 round wins, 5 No. 1 qualifiers

Shawn Langdon

Shawn Langdon and DHL Top Fuel Geared Up for Winternationals

Shawn Langdon and the DHL Kalitta Air Top Fuel team are looking forward to starting the season with the traditional NHRA Winternationals. The California native has enjoyed success on the west cost and is also looking forward to building momentum with back-to-back races to start the season. For primary sponsor DHL this this is the fifteenth season to be aligned with Kalitta Motorsports and Langdon is looking forward to continuing to represent the global brand.
“I am looking forward to getting back to our traditional format with the first race at Pomona,” said Langdon. “I always enjoy going back there and it is a track great track for me. I have had some success there. We have had a lot of changes this year, so we have been working on a lot of things in testing. We have some guys in new positions so getting them acclimated has been a big focus for the team.”

Over the off-season Langdon’s team which is led by drag racing legend Connie Kalitta added world champion crew chief Jason “Jake” McCulloch to work with veteran crew chief Kurt Elliott. The added set of eyes and hands will make an immediate impact and has already created a heightened level of enthusiasm for Langdon. He has known McCulloch for many years and the duo have similar attitudes and philosophies when it comes to managing 11,000 horsepower race cars.

“This is going to be my fourth season with Connie, and I started working with Kurt when I was driving Funny Car,” said Langdon. “I am very familiar with them, and I raced with Alan and Brian and was familiar with Jason, so it is pretty neat. We have a good chemistry, and we understand each other. We have a lot if similar philosophies and our racing mentality is on the same path. I feel like we gel well.”

Last year Langdon opened the season with a runner-up finish at the Gatornationals which was the first race of the season for 2021. Langdon has started the season with a win twice at the Winternationals, taking the title in 2013 and again in 2015. The 2013 season was Langdon’s world championship season which was tuned by Alan Johnson. Langdon has three final round appearances at the Winternationals to go along with one No. 1 qualifier (2015). His confidence level is high on getting this season started with success.

“This is a great group of guys, and we have a great DHL Kalitta Air team over here. This is a team that is ready to win. We just need to keep putting in the work,” said Langdon “It is going to be a good transition adding Alan, Brian and Jason to our Top Fuel dragster teams. I am excited for the future of Kalitta Motorsports. It is going to take time and we have to walk before we can run.”

2021 NHRA Winternationals Highlights: Qual. No. 5; Beat Jim Maroney; Lost to Antron Brown
Last Event Recap (2021 Auto Club Finals): Qual. No. 8; Lost to Tripp Tatum
Career Stats: 287 events, 284 starts, 310 round wins, 17 wins, 35 finals, 19 No. 1 qualifiers; in Top Fuel: 239 events, 236 starts, 15 wins, 32 finals, 271 round wins, 19 No. 1 qualifiers