Event 08: Menards NHRA Heartland Nationals presented by Minties
Heartland Motorsports Park – Topeka, Kan.
Todd advances to Topeka semifinal
Race Recap: J.R. Todd and the DHL/WIX Filters team earned two round wins at the rain delayed Menards NHRA Heartland Nationals in Topeka.
Qualifying saw a strong performance from Todd, as the DHL/WIX Filters Camry was one of just four drivers to dip into the three second range. Todd also earned one bonus point in the final session and was seeded fourth overall going into Sunday’s eliminations.
After the lengthy rain delay, Todd was able to finally get on track in the first round against Dale Creasy. Todd got the jump at the line, but the DHL machine begun to smoking tires downtrack. Todd pedaled and was able to keep his Camry ahead of Creasy’s ride and scored the round win.
Todd advanced to the quarterfinals with lane choice over Jack Beckman. Todd and Beckman left side-by-side but the DHL/WIX Filters Camry kept inching ahead, and lit up the scoreboard in his lane with the best run of his weekend, a 3.949. That moved Todd to the semifinals, which after weather conditions forced eliminations to cease for the evening, was run on Monday morning.
With new conditions and a new day, Todd lined up against points leader Courtney Force in the delayed semifinals. Todd and Force were together when the DHL ride lost traction. Force laid down low elapsed time of the race in the opposite lane to score the round win.
Qualified: No. 4 (3.996 sec., 320.89 mph)
E1: Todd defeated Creasy – 4.385 sec., 237.17 mph to 5.347 sec., 155.06 mph
E2: Todd defeated Beckman – 3.949 sec., 323.12 mph to 4.058 sec., 310.20 mph
E3: Todd defeated by C. Force – 4.495 sec., 188.81 mph to 3.895 sec., 330.39 mph
Quotable: “It is disappointing to lose after such a marathon race. My entire DHL/WIX Filters team worked so hard this weekend. However, I am very excited about some of the runs we made this weekend and I am looking forward to Chicago.”
Langdon earns third semifinal of the season
Race Recap: Shawn Langdon and the Global Electronic Technology team advanced to their third semifinal of the season this weekend at Heartland Motorsports Park.
Langdon had a consistent machine in qualifying as the Global Electronic Technology Camry made multiple clean passes down the Heartland Motorsports Park surface. Langdon was seeded 10th overall and had a tough draw of former Funny Car champion Ron Capps in the opposite lane.
In the first round, Langdon and Capps both had stellar reaction times. With several other Funny Cars having issues, the Nicky Boninfante-led team had no such problems. Langdon pulled away from the tire smoking Capps to earn the round win.
Langdon moved on to the quarterfinals with fellow top 10 competitor Jonnie Lindberg in the other lane. Again, Langdon had no issues and got the easy round victory to advance the Global Electronic Technology machine to the semifinals for the third time in eight races.
Unfortunately for Langdon, the race weekend would end there. After the remainder of the eliminations were moved to Monday, Langdon came up against Robert Hight. This time, Langdon’s ride smoked the tires and Hight moved to the final.
Qualified: No. 10 (4.052 sec., 314.31 mph)
E1: Langdon defeated Capps – 4.021 sec., 322.19 mph to 4.322 sec., 315.64 mph
E2: Langdon defeated Lindberg – 4.011 sec., 324.12 mph to 12.378 sec., 75.64 mph
E3: Langdon defeated by Hight – 7.038 sec., 97.06 mph to 3.911 sec., 330.55 mph
Quotable: “We are still trying to figure out why we smoked the tires; it looks like it might have broke a clutch arm. We have just had some weird stuff happen this year. We are making good progress though. A lot of things happened this week; changes were made. I am proud of my team and what they were able to fight through and overcome. We came together as a team and they delivered a great car. We were able to deliver a semi-final finish; hopefully we can build on this.”
Kalitta earns Topeka round win
Race Recap: Doug Kalitta and the Mac Tools team scored a round win in Topeka in the rain delayed Menards NHRA Heartland Nationals.
Kalitta scored the best qualifying pass of his weekend on Friday night. His 3.798 second pass slotted the Mac Tools team in the third spot and earned Kalitta one bonus point. The team was unable to improve on Saturday and was bumped from third to the eighth starting spot and a first round draw of Scott Palmer.
After a long rain delay, Kalitta and Palmer were the final Top Fuel pair to see the track. It was the best race of the first round in Top Fuel, but Kalitta got Palmer at the line and was able to outrun Palmer by a couple thousandths to score the round win.
In the quarterfinals, Kalitta faced no.1 qualifier, Clay Millican. Kalitta’s Mac Tools machine encountered troubles shortly after launching and Millican was able to run clean to move to the semi-finals.
Qualified: No. 8 (3.798 sec., 321.81 mph)
E1: Kalitta defeated Palmer – 3.774 sec., 326.24 mph to 3.798 sec., 327.90 mph
E2: Kalitta defeated by Millican – 7.301 sec., 72.09 mph to 3.724 sec., 334.90 mph
Quotable: “I am so proud of my Mac Tools team for the hours the put in today. It wasn’t our day, but the effort was definitely there. We will work hard in the off week and get ready for Chicago.”
Crampton’s expert pedaling wasn’t enough in first round loss
Race Recap: Richie Crampton was defeated in the first round of the Menards NHRA Heartland Nationals at Heartland Motorsports Park yesterday evening.
Crampton saw some improvement in qualifying with multiple clean runs throughout the weekend. The best for the Kalitta Air driver was a 3.811 second pass that slotted Crampton amongst the top ten qualifiers. For the first time since the second race of the season in February, Crampton did not race his teammate, Doug Kalitta. Instead, he had Brittany Force in the other lane.
The start of eliminations were delayed by eight hours, but after the Topeka surface was dry, Crampton and Force were the first pair to see the track. Force and Crampton left together, but shortly after Crampton was forced to pedal. He got the Kalitta Air machine to cooperate quickly, but Force made the quickest run of her weekend in the other lane to score the round win.
Qualified: No. 10 (3.811 sec., 321.65 mph)
E1: Crampton defeated by B. Force – 4.264 sec., 303.98 mph to 3.723 sec., 328.06 mph
Quotable: “After such a long wait, I really wanted to reward my guys with a round win, but it wasn’t our day. We will get the Kalitta Air Toyota dragster fixed up and get ready the month of June.”
Photos courtesy of Gary Nastase Photography, Driver Photos: NHRA
Mello Yello Championship Points:
Top Fuel (Unofficial)
1. Steve Torrence (664)
2. Clay Millican (569)
3. Tony Schumacher (539)
4. Doug Kalitta (497)
5. Leah Pritchett (489)
6. Terry McMillen (432)
7. Brittany Force (428)
8. Antron Brown (423)
9. Richie Crampton (312)
10. Mike Salinas (308)
Funny Car (Unofficial)
1. Courtney Force (670)
2. Jack Beckman (590)
3. Matt Hagan (540)
4. Robert Hight (512)
5. J.R. Todd (504)
6. Tommy Johnson Jr. (490)
7. Ron Capps (440)
8. Cruz Pedregon (399)
9. Shawn Langdon (373)
10. Jonnie Lindberg (351)
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 fields four full-time entries in the NHRA Mello Yello nitro classes. Connie Kalitta’s nephew, Doug Kalitta, pilots the Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster while former Rookie of the Year winner Richie Crampton drives the Kalitta Air Top Fuel dragster. In Funny Car, J.R. Todd is the driver of the DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car and Shawn Langdon pilots the Global Electronic Technology Toyota Camry Funny Car. Connie Kalitta serves as head tuner for all Team Kalitta entries. He is assisted by co-crew chiefs Jon Oberhofer and Todd Smith on the DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car, Nicky Boninfante on the Global Electronic Technology Toyota Camry Funny Car, Rob Flynn on the Kalitta Air Top Fuel dragster and Jim Oberhofer leads the efforts on the Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster.
Associate sponsors on Kalitta Motorsports’ race cars include ARP, AutoDesk CAM, Champion, Cogistics, Darton Sleeves, DHL, Global Electronic Technology, JEGS, Justice Brothers, Kalitta Air, Mac Tools, Racing Electronics, Red Line Oil, SealMaster, Technicoat Companies, TMS Titanium, Toyota, WIX Filters and Ziebart.