NORWALK, Ohio (June 21, 2016) – Kalitta Motorsports’ drivers Doug Kalitta, Del Worsham and J.R. Todd preview the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals at Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio. This is the 12th race of 24 in the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello NHRA season.
Repeat-minded Kalitta focused on the ultimate prize
Doug Kalitta, driver of the Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster, heads just down the street to Norwalk after earning his class-best eighth semi-final or better in 11 events in Bristol just days ago.
He started among the top two for the seventh time this season and was able to defeat foes Kyle Wurtzel and Pat Dakin to extend his points lead over Antron Brown to nearly three rounds of racing. With a return to the winner’s circle on his mind, Kalitta would like a repeat of the run he had last season at Summit Raceway Park.
Kalitta started his weekend by earning his second Norwalk pole in the last three events. Sunday came and Jim Oberhofer’s tune-up was on point in the first three rounds to defeat Chris Karamesines, Steve Torrence and Clay Millican. The final round did not come easy, as the Mac Tools team was forced to change engines multiple times after finding problems in the pits. They made no excuses, completed each change in time to bring the Mac Tools machine to the line and give Kalitta his first home track win. Kalitta was able to celebrate the victory with his family, including his mom.
“This race is very special to the Kalitta family,” said Kalitta, who also reached the Norwalk final in 2013. “We are based less than two hours down the road, and a lot of our friends and family make it a point to attend this race weekend. Mac Tools is also headquartered not far from the Norwalk, and the Bader family always puts on a first class event. The Mac Tools team is ready to race and our plan is to defend.”
Kalitta’s eighth semi-final or better gives him one more than his entire last season total. His Top Fuel-best 25 round wins are just five behind his complete season effort from one year ago.
In sponsor’s backyard, Todd desires his first Norwalk win
J.R. Todd, driver of the SealMaster Top Fuel dragster, had another tough early draw in Bristol. Despite earning qualifying bonus points on Saturday, the Friday evening session set the field giving Todd a ninth starting position and a tough first round opponent. Todd did his job at the tree, with a class-best reaction time among full-time drivers, but his SealMaster ride dropped a cylinder early leading to a much-to-soon defeat.
Norwalk marks the halfway mark on the 2016 season, and Todd has shown improvement as he is two spots higher in the standings than he was at this point last season. Now Todd is looking for that breakthrough win, and Norwalk seems like the perfect spot.
Todd’s primary sponsorship deal with SealMaster began in Norwalk one season ago. Todd started the weekend with a early run at the pole and earning qualifying bonus points. SealMaster, based in nearby Sandusky, Ohio, took a two-race trial run with Todd in 2015 and elected to expand the relationship to a full-time one in 2016. Now on his return to Norwalk, Todd knows the pressure is on to perform.
“For our SealMaster team, Norwalk is a big event because it’s right in our sponsor’s backyard,” Todd said. “It also is pretty much a home event for Kalitta Motorsports, so a lot of the team members’ families come out and support us. As for me, I’ve been racing at Norwalk since I was a kid (racing) junior dragsters, so I’ve known the Bader family for a while now. I believe going to the final round in Atlanta was a big step for us and showed that our relatively new team was, and is, plenty capable of winning. The run we made first round in Englishtown showed that we are going in the right direction with the power level and that has me excited.”
Todd looks to make this weekend a bright spot for the SealMaster and ThorWorks employees, who just days ago experienced a massive fire at the ThorSport Racing shop. They vowed to keep racing strong, and Todd brings that same mentality to this weekend’s event.
Worsham is history-minded heading to Norwalk
Del Worsham, driver of the DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car, drew another great Camry, driven by his teammate Alexis DeJoria, in the second round of the Thunder Valley Nationals. Although he wasn’t able to come away with the win, he did advance out of the first round for the sixth time straight time and ninth overall, which ranks among the best in the Funny Car class.
Reigning Funny Car World Champion Worsham is a two-time finalist this season, and nearly reached the finals in Norwalk last season. Starting fourth, Worsham defeated Jeff Diehl and DeJoria in the first two rounds and led Courtney Force before losing traction in the semi-finals.
Worsham could also break history in Norwalk. He won this event in Top Fuel in 2011 on his way to the title. With a victory this weekend, Worsham would become the first driver in Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park history with wins in both nitro classes.
“Norwalk is one the best places to race on the circuit,” said Worsham. “The Bader family does such an incredible job. This race means a lot to Kalitta Motorsports as a team and one I would like to win. We were able to get the Top Fuel trophy and to add the Funny Car Norwalk trophy and ice cream scoop to my collection with these DHL guys would be very special.”
Worsham remained in the top five in the standings leaving Bristol, and is within a round of rejoining the top four.
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 Champion, 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, Racing Electronics, Red Line Oil, SealMaster, Summit Racing Equipment, Technicoat Companies, Tequila Patrón, TMS Titanium, Toyota and Ziebart.