Event 10 of 24: Menards Heartland NHRA Nationals
June 7-9, 2019
Todd and DHL Camry Take No. 1 Qualifier to Quarterfinals
J.R. Todd and the DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car made history at Heartland Park securing Team Kalitta’s 100th No. 1 qualifier in its historic 60 years of racing. During the critical Friday night session Todd raced to the top of the pack with an impressive 3.924 second pass at 318.99 mph. It was a strong enough run to hold up throughout Saturday with warm track temps making aggressive tuning too risky. It was Todd’s first No. 1 qualifier of the season and positioned the team for success on race day.
On Sunday as the No. 1 qualifier Todd was rewarded with the ability to make one more run before he faced a competitor receiving a bye round in the opening session. Todd and his DHL Toyota Camry took full advantage making a solid run of 3.906 seconds at 323.12 mph, which at the time was the quickest Funny Car run of the event.
In the second round Todd and his DHL team knew they needed to get even more aggressive against Robert Hight, the NHRA Mello Yello point leader. At the hit of the throttle Todd’s Camry overpowered the track and the reigning Funny Car champion could only watch as his opponent pulled away.
“We knew we needed to really get aggressive in the second round,” said Todd. “This DHL Toyota Camry team gave it everything and that is a tough way to lose. I would have liked to have given him a better race. The good news is we will be back at it in a few days.” Quotable:
J.R. Todd on historic 100th Team Kalitta No. 1 qualifier: “That is pretty awesome. I don’t have too many No. 1 qualifiers under my belt so I would say most of those come from Doug Kalitta who is our leader at Kalitta Motorsports. That was a good run Friday night. We knew Q2 was going to be the best round of the weekend because the sun wasn’t going to be on the track and the conditions would be cooler.” Statistics:
Qualified: No. 1 (3.924 sec., 318.99 mph)
Bonus points: +5 (Quickest of Q2 and 2nd quickest of Q3) Race Details:
Driver Qual R/T ET MPH J.R. Todd 1 .093 3.906 323.12 (W)
Driver Qual R/T ET MPH J.R. Todd 1 .084 9.547 85.07
Robert Hight 9 .061 3.921 328.70 (W)
Mac Tools and Doug Kalitta Race to Quarterfinals in Kansas
The Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster and driver Doug Kalitta made a strong run in winning their first round battle today at the Menards Heartland NHRA Nationals. As the No. 5 qualifier Kalitta had lane choice and his team took an aggressive tune-up to the starting line to get his race day started.
Kalitta got the jump off the line and never trailed in his first round win over Leah Pritchett. His winning elapsed time of 3.737 seconds was his quickest run of the weekend and gave him lane choice going into the quarterfinals.
In a close quarterfinal race Kalitta was upended by Antron Brown. The two-time winner of the Menards Heartland NHRA Nationals got to the finish line in 3.773 seconds which as was slightly off his first round winning time. Unfortunately, it was not enough to get in front of Brown’s 3.743 second elapsed time.
“That second round race was close,” said Kalitta. “We got it down there but we just weren’t quite quick enough. We made some good runs in qualifying and that first round win as big. We will keep at it. I am really proud of all these Mac Tools guys.” Quotable:
Doug Kalitta on racing in Topeka: “This track has a lot of special memories for Team Kalitta. Scott (Kalitta) dominated here and I have a couple wins. We were looking forward to adding to that win total this weekend.” Statistics:
Qualified: No. 5 (3.800 sec., 325.22 mph)
Bonus points: +2 (2nd quickest of Q1) Race Details:
Driver Qual R/T ET MPH Doug Kalitta 5 .072 3.737 331.69 (W)
Leah Pritchett 10 .076 3.779 327.99
Driver Qual R/T ET MPH Doug Kalitta 5 .075 3.773 326.16
Antron Brown 4 .045 3.743 327.98 (W)
Crampton Takes DHL Dragster to Quarterfinals
The DHL team and Richie Crampton were confident going into race day at the Menards Heartland NHRA Nationals. The team was running so well they opted to skip the final qualifying session on Saturday because team leader Connie Kalitta was so sure he had a handle on the DHL Top Fuel dragster. They made the quickest run of the third qualifying session on Saturday, a blistering 3.842 second run, that was almost a tenth of a second quicker than their closest competitor.
Heading into the first round Crampton and the DHL dragster were in the first pair and they did not disappoint posting their quickest run of the weekend. The winning time of 3.793 seconds at 320.36 mph was enough to outrun his opponent and propel him to the quarterfinals.
In the second round Crampton and the DHL dragster pulled up beside No. 2 qualifier Billy Torrence. The team was giving up lane choice but they felt they had a dragster that could contend. Both dragsters launched and by the three hundred foot mark Crampton’s DHL dragster began to haze the tires allowing his opponent to pull ahead.
“I think we just barely missed it in the quarterfinals,” said Crampton. “We made an awesome run in the first round and in the second round it just shook the tires loose at about 300 feet. This DHL dragster was amazing yesterday and in the first round. I think that gives us a lot of confidence heading to Bristol and beyond.” Quotable:
Richie Crampton on being in the middle of four races in a row: “When you are racing every weekend that helps you not worry about distractions. You can put a bad round behind you pretty quickly because you know you will be back in the race car in four days. I can’t wait to get to Bristol.” Statistics:
Qualified: No. 7 (3.822 sec., 314.75 mph)
Bonus points: +4 (3rd quickest of Q1 and quickest of Q3) Race Details:
Driver Qual R/T ET MPH Richie Crampton 7 .067 3.793 320.36 (W)
Terry McMillen 8 .056 7.586 83.77
Driver Qual R/T ET MPH Richie Crampton 7 .076 4.845 151.29
Billy Torrence 2 .044 3.769 328.14 (W)
Langdon Draws Tough First Round Outcome
Shawn Langdon and the Global Electronic Technology Toyota Camry Funny Car will leave Topeka with their focus on continued race day improvement following a tough first round today. At the Menards Heartland NHRA Nationals Langdon used the strength of his Friday night qualifying run of 3.994 seconds to qualify No. 8. On the second day of qualifying Langdon’s team worked on fine tuning a race day tune up in search of his first Funny Car win at the Kansas track. The two-time Top Fuel world champion picked up his lone win in Topeka in 2013.
Langdon’s first round opponent was the current Mello Yello point leader, Robert Hight, who struggled through two days of qualifying and started from the bottom half of the field. Langdon was looking to even his head-to-head record with Hight, trying to add a round win to a 1-2 career record.
Cooler temperatures rolled in on Sunday morning challenging all the Funny Car teams since the previous two days of qualifying were in much hotter conditions. Throughout the first session elapsed times continued to dramatically improve for most Funny Car teams. Langdon’s Global Electronic Technology crew chief tandem of Nicky Boninfante and Del Worsham knew they would have to get aggressive.
As the tree flashed amber Langdon got the jump on Hight but by the time he was down track a few hundred feet he was losing ground and began hazing his tires. It took the quickest and fastest Funny Car run of the weekend to end Langdon’s race day.
“The conditions changed so dramatically from qualifying to race day it really challenged all the teams,” said Langdon. “You had to get really aggressive because this track is so fast. We are going into the summer months and we are making solid runs in qualifying. We took advantage of the Friday night session and made a good run to get top half so we could have lane choice on Sunday. I am glad we’ll be at Bristol in a few days and put this race behind us.” Quotable:
Langdon on being in groove two races into the month of June: “I definitely feel good about being in race mode two races into this four race stretch. You get into a rhythm with the travel and races. You know you’ll be right back in the car in a few days so it helps me stay focused.” Statistics:
Qualified: No. 8 (3.994 sec., 318.02 mph)
Bonus points: 0 Race Details:
Driver Qual R/T ET MPH Shawn Langdon 8 .060 4.800 165.56
Robert Hight 9 .068 3.897 330.88 (W)