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Langdon Wins in St. Louis – Team Kalitta Post Race Report

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Post-Race Report
Event 20 of 24: NHRA Midwest Nationals
Wide World Technology Raceway -St. Louis, MO
September 27-29, 2019

Shawn LangdonShawn Langdon and Global Electronic Technology Camry Win Midwest Nationals

Shawn Langdon

Shawn Langdon

Shawn Langdon took control of race day at the NHRA Midwest Nationals and captured his second Funny Car win of the 2019 NHRA season. The win jumped Langdon into the Funny Car championship conversation with a move from 10th to 7th and an 80 point deficit from the points lead in the category. The Global Electronic Technology Toyota Camry Funny Car took out three Countdown contenders on the way to the winner’s circle. This was Langdon’s 16th career Mello Yello Drag Racing Series victory after registering 14 in Top Fuel.

“What an incredible day,” said Langdon in the World Wide Technology Raceway Media Center. ”Going through qualifying, we didn’t have a fast car, but we did have a consistent racecar. After Reading where we smoked the tires a lot and blew the tires off at the starting line, we kind of had to go in a conservative way. It put us behind in qualifying and we ended up qualifying tenth and didn’t give us a good draw in the first round with Tommy Johnson Jr. My crew chiefs told me ‘We’re going to get you close. We don’t know exactly what it’s going to do because we made a couple of changes from yesterday. We think it’s going to run well and we’re going to give you the best car we can’.”

Langdon’s race day started with a strong driver performance in his first round victory. The No. 10 qualifier took a starting line advantage all the way to a win light on a hole shot win over Johnson Jr. Langdon’s 3.907 second elapsed time combined with his stellar .047 reaction time moved him into the quarterfinals. Johnson’s elapsed time of 3.89 was the only run in the 3.80s and was not enough to defeat Langdon.

Racing against veteran driver Jim Campbell Langdon had lane choice and confidence on his side. At the hit of the throttle his Camry immediately smoked the tires as Campbell began to pull away. Luckily, Campbell also hazed his tires a split second later. Langdon took the opportunity to practice his pedaling skills and he feathered the throttle on his 11,000 hp Funny Car. He was able to regain traction and began reeling in Campbell and by 500 feet he flew past him for the win.

“We came back for second round and we were just trying to make a good clean run and it blew the tires off at the hit. It was a situation where I felt I had a lot of learning to do in driving a Funny Car because it’s a lot different from a dragster,” said Langdon. “I just tried to take my time and be patient, especially on the hotter track surface, just allowing the car to recover and kind of squeezed the throttle back on. Then I saw Jim having some issues and I just tried to get it back full throttle. My old Super Comp days came back to me. As I was tracking him down I could see I was going to get there first. But I could tell the motor was laboring really hard, so I clicked it off a little bit early before the finish line just to make sure I didn’t blow anything up.”

A tough semifinal faced Langdon as he drew one of the quickest and most consistent racecars on the property the past three days. Bob Tasca III earned qualifying bonus points every round and made two solid runs on race day. Langdon and the Global Electronic Technology crew chief tandem of Del Worsham and Nicky Boninfante knew they could step it up and race to their third final round.

The quickest run of the semifinals belonged to Langdon. His 3.953 second run trailered Tasca and gave him lane choice over teammate and final round opponent J.R. Todd. The round win also jumped Langdon up in the Mello Yello points.

The all-Kalitta final round was the second consecutive all-Kalitta final of the Countdown following the Kalitta versus Crampton Top Fuel final in Reading. It was also the third win in a row for Kalitta Motorsports, a feat that had not been duplicated since Doug Kalitta won three races in a row in 2016, a streak that was ironically snapped by Shawn Langdon. Langdon faced J.R. Todd and the Kalitta Funny Cars both launched hard and Langdon knew he would have his hands full.

“I’m not really sure what happened in the finals. I hit the gas and I heard that thing was laboring, but man it was the final round in the Countdown and I’m not lifting. I was expecting to see the yellow car and I knew our car was struggling, but I never did and we got the win,” said Langdon.

The win moved Langdon up to seventh points and more importantly showed him and his Global Electronic Technology team that a championship is definitely within reach.

“Man, it was a pretty good day. It was a great morale booster for the whole team. We felt like we’ve had a car that’s been capable of winning for a while now, we just seemed to be running into the buzzsaw and the low ETs of every round. We felt like we just needed that one round to turn it around. I felt like we had a big day today,” added Langdon.

Quotable:
Langdon on heading to Charlotte: “Any time you can get a win in the Funny Car class it builds momentum, especially early. From the situation we were in, starting the Countdown in ninth-place, there’s not a lot of room for error. Then just having a bad race in Reading and dropping to tenth, the ensuing phone calls the next couple of days in all the conference calls we had with the team was we had to make some big changes for St. Louis because if we don’t make the finals we aren’t going to have a shot.”

Statistics:
Qualified: No. 10 (3.905 sec., 330.72 mph)
Bonus points: 0

Race Details:

First Round
Driver Qual – R/T – ET – MPH
Shawn Langdon 10 .047 3.907 330.47 (W)
Tommy Johnson Jr. 7 .113 3.898 324.44

Second Round
Driver Qual – R/T – ET – MPH
Shawn Langdon 10 .086 5.875 253.52 (W)
Jim Campbell 15 .062 6.940 93.59

Semifinal Round
Driver Qual – R/T – ET – MPH
Shawn Langdon 10 .080 3.953 323.30 (W)
Bob Tasca III 3 .065 3.976 323.04

Final Round
Driver Qual – R/T – ET – MPH
Shawn Langdon 10 .072 4.068 310.41(W)
J.R. Todd 8 .077 4.276 223.72

J.R. ToddJ.R. Todd and DHL Deliver Runner-Up Finish in St. Louis

J.R. Todd

J.R. Todd

J.R. Todd and the DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car had a record setting weekend at the NHRA Midwest Nationals outside of St. Louis. On Saturday in the final qualifying session Todd blasted down the race track with a blistering, career fastest speed of 333.58 mph. The corresponding elapsed time of 3.890 seconds moved him into the top half of the field as the No. 8 qualifier.

“Looking at the ladder last I night I knew that if we were going to win or at least get to the final we were going to have to work for it,” said Todd. “That was probably the toughest ladder I have seen in a long time. You hate to go that far and not win, all in all a good day for this DHL Toyota team and Kalitta Motorsports. We had both Camrys in the final so it was a good day on the points too. We made up some ground on the guys in front of us. We got some of those top guys out early. We just need to keep doing what we are doing.”

In the opening round Todd squared off with the current Mello Yello Funny Car point leader Jack Beckman. In their previous meetings this season Todd had failed to defeated Beckman. The reigning Funny Car champion was not deterred and took out Beckman with a holeshot win using a .084 to .096 reaction time advantage to secure the win.

In the second round Todd was faced with another tough match-up against John Force. Once again Todd was up to the task making a great 3.986 second run in front of Force’s tire smoking pass.

“That second round was another good race. I rolled it in a little but I knew I needed to be on top of my game. Getting another tough round win was a big boost,” added Todd.

Todd’s day did not get any easier as he pulled up beside Robert Hight the new points leader in the semifinals. If Todd was going to get to his third final round he would been to beat the two-time Funny Car champion and cap a three round gauntlet that included almost 20 years of Funny Car championships.

The semifinal round was Todd’s easiest round win as Hight struck the tires as soon as he hit his throttle. Todd and the DHL Toyota Camry cruised to victory with a strong 3.979 second run at 325.37 mph.

“You get a lot of confidence from wins like that,” said Todd. “I know I have a race car and team capable of repeating what we did last year. I said when the Countdown started there would be more than two cars racing for the championship. It is going to be tough and it will come down to Pomona for sure. All it takes is one of the top points guys to go out early like today and we need to capitalize on that. We need to build up our consistency. We have struggling a little bit in qualifying. I think it is coming around.”

The final round against his teammate Shawn Langdon was bittersweet for Todd. It was a no lose situation for Team Kalitta but for Todd he knew he had a chance to close the gap even more on the top Funny Cars.

“I feel like I didn’t do a good job driving today. I could have done better,” said Todd. “That is something I will go to work on this week when I get home. You have to be on your ‘A’ game when it comes to the Countdown. You have to treat every round like the final round. There are no easy first rounds out there. You don’t really want to get the points leader first round but it worked out for us. We just need to work on our consistency and our qualifying. Should have could have would have in the final. Those guys (Langdon’s team) ran good in the semis so we knew we needed to throw down. They did what they needed to do to win. It is all good for Kalitta Motorsports.”

Quotable:
J.R. Todd on wins leading up to the final round against teammate Shawn Langdon: “Those wins were huge taking out those guys in front of us. That is what it is all about. You have to make hay while the sun is out. We are definitely not going to lay down against Shawn, Del and Nicky and that Global team. That was a hell of a run by them in the semis. We’ll duke it out for sure. The trophy is going back to Michigan and that is where they belong. Hats off to Todd Smith and Jon Oberhofer and the Yella Fellas.”

Statistics:
Qualified: No. 8 (3.890 sec., 333.58 mph)
Bonus points: 0

Race Details:

First Round
Driver Qual – R/T – ET – MPH
J.R. Todd 8 .084 3.954 327.27 (W)
Jack Beckman 9 .096 3.944 326.56

Second Round
Driver Qual – R/T – ET – MPH
J.R. Todd 8 .067 3.986 326.56 (W)
John Force 1 .023 4.870 169.55

Semifinal Round
Driver Qual – R/T – ET – MPH
J.R. Todd 8 .067 3.979 325.37 (W)
Robert Hight 4 .078 12.733 62.18

Final Round
Driver Qual – R/T – ET – MPH
J.R. Todd 8 .077 4.276 223.72
Shawn Langdon 10 .072 4.068 310.41 (W)
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Doug KalittaDoug Kalitta and Mac Tools Maintain Points Lead Leaving St. Louis

Doug Kalitta

Doug Kalitta

Doug Kalitta and the Mac Tools Top Fuel team will leave the NHRA Midwest Nationals with the Top Fuel points lead thanks to a quarterfinal finish today at World Wide Technology Raceway. Two weeks ago Kalitta faced off with teammate Richie Crampton in an all-Kalitta Top Fuel final round. Today the pair revisited that match-up but unfortunately they met in the first round as a No. 7 versus No. 10 race. Qualifying struggles plagued the Mac Tools team and set up the tough race.

It was a wild race as both dragsters overpowered the track and each driver was forced to pedal their 11,000 hp race cars. Kalitta’s veteran experience was just enough to give him the advantage and secure the round win.

“That was a tough first round racing Richie,” said Kalitta. “We would have loved to have raced him again in the final. We just need to work on our qualifying and stay away from each other. We held our ground in the points and still have the points lead. Our goal is to take it one race at a time and represent Mac Tools.”

The quarterfinals saw Kalitta race eventual Top Fuel winner Billy Torrence. The Countdown contending team was a tough opponent. Both dragsters launched together and as they powered down the World Wide Technology Raceway track they were welded together as the finish line approached at over 300 mph. Kalitta’s reaction time advantage was not enough to keep the nose of his Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster out in front as Torrence crossed the stripe with a winning elapsed time of 3.801 seconds against Kalitta’s 3.827 second run.

“That was just a great drag race that didn’t go our way,” said Kalitta. “That is not a part time race car. They don’t run al lot of races but that is a tough team. No one over here is hanging their heads. We will be ready for Charlotte.”

Quotable:
Doug Kalitta on heading to Charlotte: “There are two races down and we still have the points lead. It has tightened up but we will be ready in Charlotte. This battle is going to come down to Pomona and we just want to be in that battle.”

Statistics:
Qualified: No. 10 (3.741 sec., 327.59 mph)
Bonus points: 0

Race Details:

First Round
Driver Qual – R/T – ET – MPH
Doug Kalitta 10 .067 4.285 248.48 (W)
Richie Crampton 7 .079 5.086 136.25

Second Round
Driver Qual – R/T – ET – MPH
Doug Kalitta 10 .080 3.827 323.04
Billy Torrence 2 .091 3.801 321.12 (W)
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Richie CramptonCrampton and DHL Dragster Still in Championship Hunt After St. Louis

Richie Crampton

Richie Crampton

Richie Crampton and the DHL Toyota Top Fuel dragster were looking for their second consecutive win in the 2019 NHRA Countdown. In order to grab their third win of the season the young Australian would have to outrun his teammate and the Mello Yello Top Fuel points leader Doug Kalitta. As the No. 7 qualifier Crampton knew he had a slight advantage as the higher qualified dragster but once the race cars were staged he knew all bets were off.

Both dragsters were clean off the line but almost immediately both dragsters overpowered the race track and went up in smoke. Unfortunately Crampton was no able to regain power on his DHL dragster as he watched Kalitta pull away for the win.

“It was just an unfortunate day at the races,” said Crampton. “We didn’t qualify into a position where we could have raced someone other than our teammate in the first round. That wasn’t ideal. Then we just didn’t get the job done on race day. I think we just tried to run a little too good and we smoked the tires on our DHL Toyota dragster. Doug smoked the tires also and he was able to pedal his car and get the win. It was unfortunate, but at the end of the day, he’s the point leader and my teammate, so I’m happy for him. I’m looking forward to putting today behind me and getting to Charlotte to start fresh.”

Crampton and the DHL Top Fuel dragster will head to Charlotte, the third stop on the Countdown playoff schedule, tied for sixth place in the Mello Yello point standings. He is less than two rounds away from a top three position and with four races left the team is in solid position for a race to the championship.

Quotable:
Richie Crampton on heading to Charlotte: “We had a tough race in St. Louis but we are still in the hunt. A good race in Charlotte will have us in good shape with three races to go. We can get a great start with some good qualifying runs and a long race day.”

Statistics:
Qualified: No. 7 (3.710 sec., 324.75 mph)
Bonus points: 0

Race Details:

First Round
Driver Qual – R/T – ET – MPH
Richie Crampton 7 .079 5.086 136.25
Doug Kalitta 10 .067 4.285 248.48 (W)

mello yello 18Unofficial NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship Standings:

Top Fuel
1. Doug Kalitta 2232
2. Steve Torrence 2230
3. Mike Salinas 2191
4. Brittany Force 2184
5. Leah Pritchett 2170
6. Antron Brown 2159
6. Richie Crampton 2159
8. Austin Prock 2153
9. Billy Torrence 2151
10. Clay Millican 2125

Funny Car
1. Robert Hight 2235
2. John Force 2222
3. Jack Beckman 2211
4. Ron Capps 2191
5. J.R. Todd 2182
6. Bob Tasca III 2156
7. Shawn Langdon 2155
8. Tommy Johnson Jr 2138
9. Matt Hagan 2132
10. Tim Wilkerson 2109

Photos courtesy of Gary Nastase Photography, driver photos: NHRA

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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 seven 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 DHL 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 and Del Worsham on the Global Electronic Technology Toyota Camry Funny Car, Kurt Elliott on the DHL Top Fuel dragster and Rob Flynn and Troy Fasching lead the efforts on the Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster.

Associate sponsors on Kalitta Motorsports’ race cars include AutoDesk CAM, Champion, Cogistics, Darton Sleeves, DHL, Global Electronic Technology, JEGS, Justice Brothers, Kalitta Air, Mac Tools, Racing Electronics, Red Line Oil, SealMaster, Toyota, and WIX Filters.

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