GAINESVILLE, Fla. (March 20, 2016) – J.R. Todd, driver of the SealMaster Top Fuel dragster, earned a round win in Gainesville for the third consecutive season earlier today.
Todd, who debuted a new chassis this weekend, had a rough Friday of the Gatornationals failing to record a run that pleased either Connie Kalitta or Rob Flynn. Saturday was much better as the SealMaster ride recorded consecutive solid runs to give the crew chiefs a solid baseline for their Sunday opponent: Pomona winner Steve Torrence.
Todd and Torrence were the next-to-last pair to hit the Florida track and Todd was prepared. A clean launch gave him three hundredths over Torrence, and he led stripe to stripe as he moved back to the quarter-finals for the third consecutive season at the historic Gatornationals.
Todd, who ran the second best pass in the first stanza, moved to face Clay Millican in the second round. Todd again was aggressive at the tree and recorded the best reaction time of any driver in the second round of the Top Fuel class. He grew that advantage to the 330 mark before the tires began to smoke and Millican was able to just sneak around.
“We definitely learned a lot about this new chassis this weekend,” said Todd. “This SealMaster Toyota really had a strong pass in the first round today and it makes me very excited as we advance throughout the season. Obviously, we wanted more today, but I am confident in what we will have in Vegas.”
Todd retains a top ten spot for the third consecutive weekend to start the season.
Doug Kalitta, driver of the Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster, came into Gainesville holding on to the points lead for the first time since 2014. However, the two laps on Friday left much to be desired as the Mac Tools team, which boasted of a class-best qualifying effort coming into the weekend, sat outside the top twelve.
The Mac Tools team knew what they were doing and stepped up in a big way to post the third best run of the first Saturday session moving Kalitta back inside the top half of the field. His draw would be Dave Connolly.
Connolly and Kalitta were the last pair to see the track in a wacky Top Fuel first round. They left together and were side-by-side through the 330 mark. However, Kalitta’s Mac Tools ride began to lose traction and Connolly was clean to the stripe to earn the round win.
“Not the day we were looking for with my Mac Tools, Red Line Oil Toyota machine,” said Kalitta. “I wish we already at the next race because I am ready to get back in the seat, but my Mac Tools boys will put their head down, get to work and be ready for our next one.”
Kalitta slipped to the third place in the point standings.
Del Worsham, driver of the DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car, started the weekend strong. The Jon Oberhofer and Nicky Boninfante-tuned DHL Toyota Camry was quick off the trailer earning two bonus points in the first round. Although he improved in the second attempt, Saturday saw no clean passes and Worsham slipped to the eighth starting position.
The first opponent was John Force. Worsham left on Force with the best reaction time of the entire first round of Funny Car and was steadily pulling ahead of Force before falling to tire smoke just past half-track. Force was able to drive around and deal Worsham his first round one loss of the season.
“A weekend to forget for sure,” said Worsham. “It is never fun to lose in the first round, however, these DHL boys know what they are doing and we will go to Vegas and run well.”
Worsham fell two spots to sixth in the standings.
Alexis DeJoria, driver of the Tequila Patrón Toyota Camry Funny Car, turned to Gainesville looking to follow up momentum of a solid pass in the first round of the last event in Phoenix. DeJoria and Team Green elected to bring out a different chassis at this event and made some changes in the off weeks to look to secure more consistent performance.
The first laps were not what Tommy DeLago and the Patrón team were looking for, but they made a clean 4.041 in the last session to get solid data to mount a challenge in the first round. Matt Hagan was the draw for DeJoria. One of the last pairs to see the track, Hagan and DeJoria left together and were neck and neck through every tracked increment. However, at the one that counted, the 1,000 foot line, Hagan had nosed ahead giving him the round win.
DeJoria goes to the home state of Patrón holding on to the ninth position in the standings.
Through three events on the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season, Team Kalitta owns two final round appearances and one no.1 qualifier. NHRA takes the holiday weekend off and returns April 1-3 for NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
J.R. Todd – Driver of the SealMaster Top Fuel Dragster: No. 10 Qualifier (3.779 sec., 323.35 mph) E1: Todd defeated Torrence – 3.751 sec., 324.36 mph to 3.781 sec., 245.54 mph
E2: Todd defeated by Millican – 4.155 sec., 252.05 mph to 3.911 sec., 303.30 mph
Doug Kalitta – Driver of the Mac Tools Top Fuel Dragster: No. 8 Qualifier (3.761 sec., 324.05 mph) E1: Kalitta defeated by Connolly – 4.575 sec., 177.09 mph to 3.758 sec., 323.27 mph
Del Worsham – Driver of the DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car: No. 8 Qualifier (3.958 sec., 320.28 mph) E1: Worsham defeated by J. Force – 4.474 sec., 213.06 mph to 4.000 sec., 322.81 mph
Alexis DeJoria – Driver of the Tequila Patrón Toyota Camry Funny Car: No. 11 Qualifier (4.041 sec., 314.61 mph) E1: DeJoria defeated by Hagan – 3.992 sec., 312.28 mph to 3.966 sec., 316.82 mph
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, Racing Electronics, Red Line Oil, SealMaster, Summit Racing Equipment, Technicoat Companies, Tequila Patrón, TMS Titanium, Toyota and Ziebart.
Konnekt with Kalitta Motorsports: For more info about Kalitta Motorsports including exclusive content such as videos, photos and more, please visit #KalittaStrong online – Website: www.teamkalitta.com Facebook: www.facebook.com/TeamKalitta Twitter: www.twitter.com/TeamKalitta YouTube: www.youtube.com/user/TeamKalitta Instagram: www.instagram.com/TeamKalitta