HOUSTON (April 27, 2016) – Kalitta Motorsports’ preview the NHRA SpringNationals at Royal Purple Raceway in Houston, Texas. This is the sixth race of 24 in the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello NHRA season.
Kalitta plans another Texas win
Last season, Doug Kalitta, driver of the Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster, came into Houston with a solid start to the season, but minus one key item: a win. Houston yielded the trophy. He was strong throughout the weekend and come race day made solid passes to defeat Troy Buff and Larry Dixon. An excellent pedal foot gave him the semi-final win over Spencer Massey, before Jim Oberhofer delivered a great tune-up to allow Kalitta to drive around Tony Schumacher for his 36th career win.
This season, Kalitta is off to an outstanding start. He is the only Top Fuel driver to rank among the top three in the point standings after every race this season. He is coming off his second final round appearance of the season in Charlotte and has claimed the fastest lap in three of the five events thus far. However, escaping Kalitta and his Mac Tools team is the first Wally of the season. He looks to go back to winner’s circle this weekend and repeat his success from just one season ago.
Charlotte saw Kalitta post five clean passes in just six attempts. He earned two bonus points in qualifying and then defeated drivers Smax Smith and Scott Palmer in the first quad and Steve Torrence and Tony Schumacher in the second to advance to the final, where the Mac Tools driver would get out quick with a sub .050 second reaction time before coming in third overall.
“It is great to go back to Texas, especially a place we have had so much recent success,” said Kalitta. “We had a solid showing in Charlotte and the Mac Tools team looks to take the next step into the Winner’s Circle this weekend.”
Kalitta has earned a total of two victories in Houston, picking up his first win from the pole in 2003. He owns two other top qualifiers, most recently in 2013.
Worsham focused on the end prize
Del Worsham, driver of the DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car, has earned two final round appearances in the first five Funny Car events, something that he replicated last season on his way to the title. In fact Worsham is a mere round behind his 2015 pace.
However, Worsham definitely wants to be back in the Winner’s Circle, and Houston would be a great place to earn that Wally. He is one of just two drivers to own Top Fuel and Funny Car wins and his second no.1 qualifying effort with Team Kalitta occurred here two seasons ago. However, the last time Worsham claimed a Houston Funny Car trophy was 2008, and that is a streak he would like to end this weekend.
The DHL team was stellar in Charlotte despite an early exit. Three consecutive solid passes on Saturday and Sunday gave them two bonus points, but a loss by a few inches in the first round has made Worsham pleased for the quick shot of redemption at the SpringNationals.
“The DHL Toyota Camry is just as solid as ever,” said Worsham. “Like early last season, we are getting beat in just some extremely close races. However, I am excited to get back on the track so quickly and have another shot at the race win. I definitely think we can get it done this weekend.”
After solid Charlotte effort, Todd excited for Houston event
J.R. Todd, driver of the SealMaster Top Fuel dragster, proved that three times might be the charm after this past weekend’s efforts in Charlotte.
Charlotte was the third event on the new SealMaster chassis and the best performance yet. Connie Kalitta and Rob Flynn tuned Todd to best run on Saturday in the Top Fuel class. His 3.743 second pass moved Todd from the 11th starting position to the second spot, his best start of the season. However, the tuning duo was not done yet, delivering Todd an even better run, a 3.736 second pass in his first round win over Terry McMillen and Chris Karamesines. His speed, 328.06 MPH, would rank as the quickest of the weekend in the class. After that success, Todd could not be more excited to be back on track so quickly.
Although they lost in the second round, Todd has nearly doubled his round win total from this point last season. He is four spots higher in the standings, and one round from joining his teammate among the top five in the 2016 points picture. His second win in Houston would clinch that and his second straight Traxxas Shootout appearance.
“I am looking forward to racing in consecutive weekends,” said Todd. “It keeps you in your groove and doesn’t give you time to dwell on the previous event. Houston will always be special for me as it was the first race after Eric Medlen’s accident and I was fortunate enough to win in 2007.”
This is the third SpringNationals for Todd with Kalitta Motorsports. In his first two starts, Todd has qualified among the top half of the field both times.
DeJoria looks for Sunday success after stellar Saturday in Charlotte
Alexis DeJoria, driver of the Tequila Patrón Toyota Camry Funny Car, was simply the car to beat in Saturday for the 4-Wide Nationals. DeJoria reset the track record and her personal best elapsed time twice and posted the best two runs of any Funny Car team on the track earning herself and the Patrón team the maximum amount of bonus points.
However, Sunday left her with an early loss. DeJoria, Tommy DeLago and the Patrón team are focused on keeping the momentum hot and giving DeJoria her first win in her adopted home state of Texas and her second of the the young NHRA season. At the last SpringNationals, DeJoria qualified fourth and defeated Bob Bode in the first round.
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About Kalitta Motorsports:
Based in Ypsilanti, Mich., Kalitta Motorsports is a Top Fuel and Funny Car drag racing team in the NHRA (National Hot Rod Association) Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. The team was founded and is owned by drag racing icon Connie “the Bounty Hunter” Kalitta. For more than 50 years, Connie has been involved in the sport as a driver, tuner, and an owner. Kalitta Motorsports is one of the most successful teams in the history of auto racing with six world championships and over 100 national event titles in five different professional drag racing sanctioning bodies since it was established by Connie in 1959.
Team Kalitta is the home of the 2015 NHRA Mello Yello Funny Car World Champions, Del Worsham. He drives the DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car. Alexis DeJoria pilots the Tequila Patrón Toyota Camry Funny Car. J.R. Todd drives the SealMaster Top Fuel dragster while Connie’s nephew, Doug Kalitta, pilots the Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster. Connie serves as head tuner for all Team Kalitta entries. He is assisted by co-crew chiefs Jon Oberhofer and Nick Boninfante on the DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car, Tommy DeLago and Glen Huszar on the Tequila Patrón Toyota Camry Funny Car, Rob Flynn on the SealMaster Top Fuel dragster and Jim Oberhofer on the Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster.
Associate sponsors on Kalitta Motorsports’ race cars include ARP, AutoDesk CAM, Champion, Cogistics, Darton Sleeves, DHL, Justice Brothers, Kalitta Air, Mac Tools, Optima Batteries, Phoenix Fuel Converter, Red Line Oil, SealMaster, Summit Racing Equipment, Technicoat Companies, Tequila Patrón, TMS Titanium, Toyota and Ziebart.