INDIANAPOLIS (September 7, 2015) – Team Kalitta started the U.S. Nationals with only one driver with a clinched spot for the NHRA Countdown for the Championship. Doug Kalitta and J.R. Todd added two more in qualifying and Alexis DeJoria earned her spot on raceday making Team Kalitta a perfect 4-for-4 in Countdown for the Championship standings.
Del Worsham, driver of the DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car, who started the weekend as the only clinched Team Kalitta driver, had a great effort in qualifying. In the lone evening session, Worsham reset his career best elapsed time for the second consecutive weekend. The 3.978 second pass earned him the fourth starting position and another pairing with friend Chad Head.
The first round was a interesting run, but Worsham did a masterful driving job. He had a great reaction time at the tree, and then down track the DHL Toyota Camry began smoking the tires. Worsham kept it off the center line and moved on to round two. Tim Wilkerson was his next opponent. Worsham was again on the tree, earning the best reaction time of any Funny Car driver, and was able to sneak out a narrow round win before coming up just short against Jack Beckman in the semi-finals.
Worsham has now earned the same amount of round wins as he did for the entire season one year ago, and has the top seed of any Team Kalitta driver as he is in fourth.
“I really wanted to win the U.S. Nationals for DHL and Toyota,” said Worsham. “But we moved up as high as we could in the Countdown order and I am excited to have a legitimate shot at the trophy.”
Doug Kalitta, driver of the DEWALT Made in the USA Top Fuel dragster, started the weekend with a strong effort in the Traxxas Shootout making the final round. He defeated a tire-smoking Shawn Langdon in round one and eliminated the fan vote winner, Clay Millican, in round 2. The DEWALT team came up just short in the final round against Antron Brown, but earned $15,000 for their runner-up effort.
However, Saturday was a struggle for Kalitta. Two sub-par runs barely allowed the DEWALT team to sneak in the field on the bump spot. He drew no.1 qualified Larry Dixon in the first round. But Jim Oberhofer and the entire DEWALT team, who won NHRA’s Best Appearing Crew, put the part failures behind them and earned the round victory. A great light by Kalitta made it an easy win at the stripe, and he moved on to face Langdon for the second time this weekend. Langdon won the revenge match after Kalitta smoked the tires before half-track.
“Did not get the result we wanted, but now we can turn to the Countdown,” said Kalitta. “It was great to have so many people out from DEWALT this weekend.”
Kalitta will be the seven seed in this year’s Countdown to the Championship.
Alexis DeJoria, driver of the Patrón XO Café Incendio Toyota Camry Funny Car, came into the weekend as the defending event champion. Last season, she defeated John Force in the final round to win the 60th U.S. Nationals. This weekend, she had another battle in mind. With just a three round advantage over Courtney Force for the final Countdown to the Championship spot, DeJoria was focused on going rounds and earning that spot.
A great evening effort for Tommy DeLago and DeJoria yielded a 4.000 second run and a top half starting spot. In their third first round match-up in just the last five races, DeJoria drew Courtney Force. DeJoria won the first two races, and had lane choice in this ESPN Marquee Matchup.
DeJoria came to the line with a great reaction time effort and a solid 4.08 second run, but Force was able to just get around her. However, DeJoria earned the final spot when Force was defeated by Tommy Johnson, Jr. in the quarter-finals.
“Well, this weekend did not go as planned. We were hoping to double-up,” said DeJoria. “We were hoping to at least go a few rounds and clinch our spot in the Countdown. Luckily, we got that last spot. It was stressful day of racing, but it went in our favor. We made some good runs in qualifying, but on raceday it was not enough. However, we did make it into the Countdown. I am looking at these next races with fire in my eyes and I am going to be fighting to the end.”
J.R. Todd, driver of the Optima Batteries Top Fuel dragster, earned his way into his first Traxxas Shootout and drew Antron Brown in the first round. A close race did not fall Todd’s way, but the Optima Batteries team did come back to make a great run in the evening session to earn another great starting position. However, luck was not on his side. The 5th qualifying spot gave him yet another match-up with Antron Brown.
Another very common pairing this season for Todd, he chose the right lane on the track. A stellar .052 light was not enough as the Optima Batteries Top Fuel Dragster smoked the tires right before the finish line.
“The Optima Batteries team just struggled in the heat this weekend,” said Todd. “Thankful to clinch our Countdown spot, and we will look forward to a better effort in Indianapolis.”
Todd will be the 8th seed in the Countdown for the Championship.
Del Worsham – Driver of the DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car:
No. 4 Qualifier (3.978 sec., 322.11 mph)
E1: Worsham defeated Head – 4.345 sec., 237.46 mph to 6.626 sec., 83.41 mph
E2: Worsham defeated Wilkerson – 4.130 sec., 309.56 mph to 4.132 sec., 306.33 mph
E3: Worsham defeated by Beckman – 4.189 sec., 299.20 mph to 4.058 sec., 307.72 mph
Doug Kalitta – Driver of the Mac Tools Top Fuel Dragster:
No. 16 Qualifier (3.995 sec., 290.63 mph)
E1: Kalitta defeated Dixon – 3.808 sec., 317.42 mph to 3.819 sec., 326.16 mph
E2: Kalitta defeated by Langdon – 5.125 sec., 146.24 mph to 3.913 sec., 292.33 mph
J.R. Todd – Driver of the Red Line Oil Top Fuel Dragster:
No. 5 Qualifier (3.795 sec., 323.58 mph)
E1: Todd defeated by Brown – 3.905 sec., 311.34 mph to 3.796 sec., 318.17 mph
Alexis DeJoria – Driver of the Patrón XO Café Incendio Toyota Camry Funny Car:
No. 6 Qualifier (4.000 sec., 314.97 mph)
E1: DeJoria defeated by C. Force – 4.085 sec., 307.02 mph to 4.064 sec., 316.67 mph
Mello Yello Championship Points:
Top Fuel (Unofficial)
1. Tony Schumacher (2110)
2. Antron Brown (2080)
3. Richie Crampton (2070)
4. Larry Dixon (2060)
5. Brittany Force (2050)
6. Shawn Langdon (2040)
7. Doug Kalitta (2030)
8. J.R. Todd (2020)
9. Steve Torrence (2010)
10. Dave Connolly (2000)
Funny Car (Unofficial)
1. Jack Beckman (2010)
2. Matt Hagan (2080)
3. Tommy Johnson Jr. (2070)
4. Del Worsham (2060)
5. John Force (2050)
6. Ron Capps (2040)
7. Robert Hight (2030)
8. Tim Wilkerson (2020)
9. Cruz Pedregon (2010)
10. Alexis DeJoria (2000)
Konnekt with Kalitta Motorsports:
For more info about Kalitta Motorsports including exclusive content such as videos, photos and more, please visit #KalittaStrong online –
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 five world championships and over 50 national event titles in five different professional drag racing sanctioning bodies since it was established by Connie in 1959.
Del Worsham drives the DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car for Team Kalitta. Alexis DeJoria pilots the Tequila Patrón XO Café Incendio Toyota Camry Funny Car. J.R. Todd drives the Optima Batteries Top Fuel dragster while Connie’s nephew, Doug Kalitta, pilots the DEWALT Made in the USA 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, by Tommy DeLago and Glen Huszar on the Tequila Patrón XO Café Incendio Toyota Camry Funny Car, and by Jim Oberhofer on the DEWALT Made in the USA Top Fuel dragster. Connie serves as crew chief on the Optima Batteries Top Fuel dragster.
Associate sponsors on Kalitta Motorsports’ race cars include Justice Brothers, Kalitta Air, Optima Batteries, Patrón XO Café Incendio, Phoenix Fuel Converter, Red Line Oil, SealMaster, Summit Racing Equipment, Technicoat Companies, TMS Titanium, Toyota and Ziebart.