Pre-Race Team Kalitta Notes
Event 11 of 24: 2019 Thunder Valley NHRA Nationals
June 14-16, 2019
Team Kalitta looks to continue to dominate 2019 season with four wins including two each in Top Fuel and Funny Car. Each Team Kalitta driver has tasted victory and maintains Top Ten point position.
Doug Kalitta and Mac Tools Enter Milestone 500th NHRA National Event
Doug Kalitta and the Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster will make some personal history at the Thunder Valley NHRA Nationals this weekend. This will be Kalitta’s 500th NHRA national event in a career that includes 45 Top Fuel wins and 97 career Top Fuel final rounds. The veteran driver from Michigan has raced to the final round almost every fifth race of his career.
“I have been fortunate to have great teams and great marketing partners. Mac Tools has been a huge part of my success and I can’t thank them enough. We have won a lot of races over the years and we are looking forward to winning many more.”
Kalitta’s history at Bristol Dragway has been equally as impressive. Since 2009 he has raced to six final rounds picking up wins in 2006, 2005 and 2001. His most recent trip to the final round came in 2014.
“There is something about Bristol Dragway that is special. Every track has something unique but when you roll into Thunder Valley you know you are in a special place. We have won a lot of rounds of racing here and we would love to park this Mac Tools dragster in the winner’s circle at our 500th race.”
The 2019 season could not have started better for Kalitta picking up the win at the historic Winternationals. Since that season opening victory the team has been winning rounds but hasn’t strung together four win lights on Sunday. Their consistency has them sitting No. 2 in the Mello Yello points with only eight races remaining in the regular season.
“When you are No. 2 in the points you are in a good position for sure. They will reset the points after Indy and bunch everyone up so I am not worried about the gap between No. 1 and No. 2. We just want to keep being consistent and work on getting more win lights on Sunday. This class is as tough as I have ever seen
it. I am glad I have the experience that I do because I think it will definitely help the rest of the season.”
The team is entering the third race weekend in a row and is looking to build some momentum heading into the summer months. 2018 Thunder Valley NHRA Nationals Highlights: Qualified No. 12; Beat Brittany Force; Lost to Scott Palmer Last Event Recap (2019 Menards Heartland NHRA Nationals): Qual. No. 5; Beat Leah Pritchett; Lost to Antron Brown Quotable: Kalitta on 500 races: “When you think about it 500 races, that is a lot of races. I have been lucky to have a career this long and I have to thank Connie and everyone at Team Kalitta for all their support. I love strapping into this Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster and racing against some of the toughest competitors in drag racing. I tell people all the time that there is nothing more exciting than seeing a Top Fuel dragster make a perfect run at over 330 mph. The only thing better is sitting behind the steering wheel.” Career Stats: 499 events, 492 starts, 666 round wins, 45 wins, 97 finals, 49 no. 1 qualifiers 2019 Season:
Winternationals: Qual. No. 7, WINNER; Beat Scott Palmer, Billy Torrence, Terry McMillen and Steve Torrence
Arizona Nationals: Qual. No. 5, Beat Jim Maroney; Lost to Jordan Vandergriff
Gatornationals: Qual. No. 11, Beat Terry McMillen, Steve Torrence; Lost to Clay Millican
Las Vegas1: Qual. No. 7, Beat Terry McMillen and Steve Chrisman; Beat Steve Torrent and Richie Crampton; Lost to Mike Salinas and Brittany Force
Houston: Qual. No. 8, Beat Terry McMillen; Lost to Brittany Force
Charlotte1: Qual. No. 4; Beat Richie Crampton and Lex Joon; Lost to Clay Millican and Leah Pritchett
Atlanta: Qual. No. 3; Lost to Shawn Reed
Richmond: Qual. No. 5; Lost to Scott Palmer
Chicago: Qual. No. 5; Beat Shawn Reed, Pat Dakin; Lost to Mike Salinas
Topeka: Qual. No. 5; Beat Leah Pritchett; Lost to Antron Brown
Noteworthy: Kalitta is entering his 500th race of his career this weekend at Bristol Dragway.
Global Electronic Technology Driver Shawn Langdon Ready to Make Noise at Thunder Valley
The historic Thunder Valley Nationals are next up on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series and Funny Car driver Shawn Langdon will be eyeing a third win at the iconic racing facility. Langdon will be piloting his Global Electronic Technology Toyota Camry Funny Car looking for his second win of the 2019 season. His previous two wins at Bristol Dragway came in 2016 and 2014 behind the wheel of a Top Fuel dragster and the second year Funny Car racer is looking to etch his name in the history books as the first racer to win in Top Fuel and Funny Car at Thunder Valley.
“Top Fuel and Funny Cars are so different in how they handle and that challenge is a lot of fun,” explained Langdon. “When you are sitting behind the motor you get a completely different feel and look. Plus, when one of these things let’s go in front of you, you have your hands full. It would be cool to be the first racer to get a Top Fuel win and a Funny Car win at a track that has a much history as Bristol.”
Langdon’s first Funny Car win came earlier this season at another Bruton Smith owned facility in Charlotte. The tour has not raced at one of Smith’s excellent facilities since so the Global Electronic Technology driver is hoping his luck will continue at Smith-owned race tracks.
“You look at the facilities Bruton and Marcus Smith have on the NHRA tour and they are the best of the best,” said Langdon. “We love coming to places like Bristol or Charlotte or Las Vegas. The fans are treated great and the facilities are amazing. You always see great on track action and Team Kalitta has had pretty good luck in Bristol.”
As the third race in a row on a four race stretch Langdon is focused on getting the most out of qualifying and then going rounds on Sunday. The previous two races have seen solid qualifying efforts but unfortunate outcomes on race day. Since his win in Charlotte Langdon and his Toyota Camry Funny Car have qualified in the top half of the field at every race, including a season best No. 4 starting position two weeks ago in Chicago.
“We are making so many quick runs I really have a lot of confidence in this Global Electronic Technology Toyota Camry,” said Langdon “We are getting great info from TRD and Del (Worsham) and Nicky (Boninfante) are busting their asses. My crew guys are awesome. I just feel like another win is right around the corner. It would be great to get that second win this weekend in Bristol.” 2019 Thunder Valley NHRA Nationals Highlights: Qualified No. 10; Lost to Jack Beckman Last Event Recap (2019 Menards Heartland NHRA Nationals): Qual. No. 8; Lost to Robert Hight Quotable: Langdon on heading to Bristol: “With the race track in the middle of those mountains it just seems like it is louder at Bristol. When you fire up your race car you just hear the sound bouncing off the mountains and I know the fans love that.” Career Stats: 242 events, 239 starts, 270 round wins, 15 wins, 31 finals, 18 no. 1 qualifiers; in Funny Car 34 events, 34 starts, 20 round wins, 1 wins, 1 finals, 0 no. 1 qualifiers 2019 Season:
Winternationals: Qual. No. 6; Beat Jim Campbell; Lost to Tommy Johnson Jr.
Arizona Nationals: Qual. No. 7; Beat Cruz Pedregon; Lost to Matt Hagan
Gatornationals: Qual. No. 10; Lost to Cruz Pedregon
Las Vegas1: Qual. No. 8; Lost to Tim Wilkseron and Jeff Diehl
Houston: Qual. No. 10; Beat Cruz Pedregon; Lost to Ron Capps
Charlotte1: Qual 5; WINNER; Beat Jeff Diehl and Terry Haddock; Beat J.R. Todd and Tommy Johnson Jr; Beat Robert Hight, John Force and Matt Hagan
Atlanta: Qual. No. 6; Lost to Ron Capps
Richmond: Qual. No. 5; Beat Tim Wilkerson; Lost to J.R. Todd
Chicago: Qual. No. 4; Lost to Jeff Arend
Topeka: Qual. No. 8; Lost to Robert Hight
Noteworthy: Langdon became just the 17th racer to win in both Top Fuel and Funny Car when he picked up his first Funny Car win in Charlotte.
J.R. Tood and DHL Ready to Deliver at Historic Bristol Dragway
Last weekend J.R. Todd and the DHL Toyota Camry made history for Team Kalitta recording the iconic team’s 100th No. 1 qualifier in its 60 years of racing operation. This weekend the reigning Funny Car champion will roll into history Bristol Dragway looking to pick up his second win of the season at the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals. Todd raced to the semifinals last season which is the furthest the accomplished racer has progressed at Bristol Dragway.
“We had a great car last year in Bristol,” said Todd. “I think we were No. 2 qualifier and in the semis we dropped a hole and that cost us the race. Bristol is a really cool place to race. You see Connie’s name up on the side of the suites for being one of the Bristol Dragway Legends and you just really want to do well here.”
The DHL Toyota Camry and Todd have been doing their part in defending their 2018 Mello Yello Funny Car championship. A win at the Las Vegas NHRA Nationals earlier this season has been bracketed by final round appearances in Phoenix and Richmond. Additionally in five of the last seven races the DHL Camry has qualified fourth or higher.
“We have a great race car and Todd (Smith) and Jon (Oberhofer) are doing an amazing job tuning this Camry,” said Todd. “We are figuring a few things out, which is what the regular season is for. The points are really tight at the top of the class between the No. 3 and No. 6 race cars so if someone gets hot that can create some separation. We want to be that team and I definitely think that we are capable of getting on a run.”
With eight races left in the regular season Todd is looking at heading to facilities where he was more than a handful of wins. Adding Bristol to those win totals would push the DHL Toyota Camry driver up the point standings and also give his team the momentum for another championship.
“This is where you really find your groove,” added Todd. “We are heading to our third race in row and we have one more after this. You can get a lot accomplished during a stretch like this and I think this DHL team is going to make the most out of these next two races. We are qualifying really well and now we need to get a few more round wins on Sunday. That is very doable with the caliber of this team.” 2018 Thunder Valley NHRA Nationals Highlights: Qualified No. 2; Beat Del Worsham, Jack Beckman; Lost to Ron Capps Last Event Recap (2019 Menards Heartland NHRA Nationals): Qual. No. 1; Beat bye; Lost to Robert Hight Quotable: J.R. Todd on finishing strong in June: “We have been qualifying really well and now we just need to get more round wins on Sunday. This DHL Toyota Camry can really make some power and is posting some amazing ETs. I can’t wait to get to Bristol and see what we can do. ” Career Stats: 210 events, 202 starts, 224 round wins, 18 wins, 32 finals, 11 no. 1 qualifiers; in Funny Car: 58 events, 58 starts, 9 wins, 12 finals, 75 round wins, 2 no. 1 qualifiers 2019 Season:
Winternationals: Qual. No. 9; Lost to Bob Tasca III
Arizona Nationals: Qual. No. 5; RUNNER-UP; Beat Terry Haddock, Tommy Johnson Jr., Robert Hight, Lost to Matt Hagan
Gatornationals: Qual. No. 11; Lost to Jack Beckman
Las Vegas1: Qual. No. 4; WINNER; Beat Gary Densham and Jim Campbell in first quad, Matt Hagan and Jeff Diehl in second quad and in the final quad beat Tommy Johnson Jr., Jack Beckman and Tim Wilkerson.
Houston: Qual. No. 4; Beat Jim Campbell; Lost to Robert Hight
Charlotte1: Qual. No. 8; Beat Bob Tasca III and Bob Glibertson; Lost to Shawn Langdon and Robert Hight
Atlanta: Qual. No. 2; Beat Jim Campbell; Lost to Tommy Johnson Jr.
Richmond: Qual. No. 4; RUNNER-UP; Beat Bob Tasca III, Shawn Langdon, Jonnie Lindberg; Lost to Ron Capps
Chicago: Qual. No. 6; Lost to John Force
Topeka: Qual. No. 1; Beat bye; Lost to Robert Hight
Richie Crampton and DHL Team Eager for Success at Thunder Valley Nationals
Richie Crampton and the DHL Top Fuel team are taking everything they have learned over the last ten races to the Thunder Valley NHRA Nationals with the focus on picking their second win of the season. The team has continued to qualify consistently in the top half and win rounds on Sunday. The perennial Top Ten contender is looking for more success this weekend at Bristol Dragway.
“You look at the performance of this DHL team and we are running with everyone in the class,” said Crampton. “Last weekend in Topeka we made the quickest run in the heat on Saturday and we were in great shape for race day.”
In the opening round in Topeka the DHL team improved on the performance side even more with a first round win over Terry McMillen but a tough second round ended the day for Crampton. So far this season Crampton and the DHL team have managed to come up on the wrong side of some very close races. The group is hoping to get Crampton his second win at Thunder Valley.
“I picked up a win in 2015 in Bristol and I would love to get another one with Team Kalitta,” said Crampton. “I do think it gives you some confidence when you come to a track where you have had success no matter who you are racing with. I have so much support here at Kalitta and when you have Connie making the calls you can’t help but be excited to get into the race car.” 2018 Thunder Valley NHRA Nationals Highlights: Qualified No. 14; Lost to Antron Brown Last Event Recap (2019 Menards Heartland NHRA Nationals): Qual. 7: Beat Terry McMillen; Lost to Billy Torrence Quotable: Crampton on heading to Bristol: “This part of the country has some passionate NHRA drag racing fans. They have had races here for over 50 years so you see a ton of families that have been coming to the races all their lives. That kind of passion and love for drag racing is pretty cool to be a part of.” Career Stats: 113 events, 112 starts, 95 round wins, 9 wins, 11 finals, 5 no. 1 qualifiers 2019 Season:
Winternationals: Qual. No. 6, Lost to Terry McMillen round one
Arizona Nationals: Qual. No. 15, Lost to Terry McMillen round one
Gatornationals: Qual. No. 12, WINNER, Beat Antron Brown, Leah Pritchett, TJ Zizzo and Clay Millican
Las Vegas1: Qual. No. 6, Beat Scott Palmer, Cameron Ferre; Lost to Doug Kalitta and Brittany Force
Houston: Qual. No. 13; Lost to Clay Millican
Charlotte1: Qual. 12; Lost to Doug Kalitta and Leah Pritchett
Atlanta: Qual. 7; Lost to Scott Palmer
Richmond: Qual. 7; Lost to Austin Prock
Chicago: Qual. 11: Beat Austin Prock; Lost to Steve Torrence
Topeka: Qual. 7: Beat Terry McMillen; Lost to Billy Torrence