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Team Kalitta Pre-Race Report NHRA FallNationals

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Pre-Race Team Kalitta Notes
Event 22 of 24: 2019 NHRA FallNationals
Texas Motorplex – Ennis, Texas
October 18-20, 2019

Team Kalitta is entering the foruth race of the Countdown to the Championship with Doug Kalitta and Richie Crampton in the Top Fuel championship fight. In Funny Car J.R. Todd and Shawn Langdon are also both in striking distance of the points lead and focused on winning a Mello Yello title.

Doug KalittaDoug Kalitta and Mac Tools Looking to Continue to Dominate Heading to Texas

Doug Kalitta

Doug Kalitta

The battle for the 2019 NHRA Mello Yello Top Fuel world championship is tightening up and Doug Kalitta and his Mac Tools Top Fuel team are right in the middle of the fight. Over the past four NHRA national events Kalitta has had the best Top Fuel dragster on the series. The veteran driver has raced to three final rounds over those four races, collecting a historic win at the U.S. Nationals in the process. He also has a semifinal finish to his credit. That kind of consistency and race day success has Kalitta just 30 points out of the Top Fuel lead with three race remaining.

“We have had an awesome race car since Labor Day,” said Kalitta. “It was very consistent all season but lately it has really come around. I feel very confident driving it and the performance on race day has been great. We always expect to win with this Mac Tools dragster and there is no reason to think we can’t make a run for this Mello Yello championship.”

Last weekend the race was postponed to Monday due to inclement weather but Kalitta took advantage of a well prepared race track and raced to his 100th career final round. It was a close race with the points lead on the line. A millisecond of tire smoke slowed down the Mac Tools dragster and they will roll into Dallas in the No. 2 position in the point standing.

“We are running really well all day in Charlotte and we just smoked the tires in the final,” said Kalitta. “You want to be in a position to win races and we were right there. I am excited to get to Dallas in a couple days and get right back on the track.”

The Countdown shifts to the Texas Motorplex, the first stadium-style super-track built by Funny Car driver Billy Meyer in 1986. The all-concrete racing surface has led to some of the most historic runs in drag racing history. Kalitta was the No. 1 qualifier in 2004 and has raced to three final rounds in his career at the track. Most recently he picked up the Top Fuel win in 2013 over now teammate Shawn Langdon. Kalitta also collected a win over Cory McClenathan in 2002.

“We have won some races at the Texas Motorplex and it is a great race track. You get a great crowd there and the racing surface lets the crew chiefs really get aggressive. I think this Mac Tools dragster can make some really quick qualifying runs and be in good shape for race day,” added Kalitta.

Kalitta’s final round appearance earlier this week was the fourth of the season for the Mac Tools team. That finish extended his streak of racing to at least four final rounds in a season to six seasons in a row.

2018 NHRA FallNationals Highlights: Qual. No. 6; Lost to Antron Brown

Last Event Recap (2019 NHRA Carolina Nationals): Qual. No. 10; RUNNER-UP; Beat Antron Brown, Leah Pritchett and Brittany Force; Lost to Steve Torrence

Quotable: Kalitta on heading to Texas Motorplex: “This is a great facility and we are looking forward to running really well there. This is one of the final three races so we have to stay at the top of our game. It will be a tough race but we are ready for the challenge.”

Career Stats: 510 events, 503 starts, 684 round wins, 46 wins, 100 finals, 50 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
Bristol: Qual. No. 1; Beat Cameron Ferre, Terry McMillen; Lost to Mike Salinas
Norwalk: Qual. No. 13; Beat Clay Millican; Lost to Steve Torrence
Epping: Qual. No. 3; Lost to Terry McMillen
Denver: Qual. No. 10; Lost to Clay Millican
Sonoma: Qual. No. 5; Beat Scott Palmer; Lost to Antron Brown
Seattle: Qual. No. 8; Beat Scott Palmer; Lost to Mike Salinas
Brainerd: Qual. No. 7; Beat Terry McMillen, Steve Torrence; Lost to Mike Salinas
Indianapolis: Qual. No. 8; WINNER; Beat Clay Millican, Brittany Force, Austin Prock and Billy Torrence
Reading: Qual. No. 3; RUNNER-UP; Beat Smax Smith, Mike Salinas, Austin Prock; Lost to Richie Crampton
St. Louis: Qual. No. 10; Beat Richie Crampton; Lost to Billy Torrence
Charlotte2: Qual. No. 10; RUNNER-UP; Beat Antron Brown, Leah Pritchett, Brittany Force; Lost to Steve Torrence

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Richie CramptonCrampton and DHL Looking for Second Countdown Win at FallNationals

Richie Crampton

Richie Crampton

Heading into the back half of the 2019 Countdown for the Mello Yello Top Fuel championship Richie Crampton and the DHL Kalitta Air Top Fuel team are looking to grab some end of season momentum. The team started the playoffs with a strong win in Reading, Pennsylvania over teammate Doug Kalitta but since that successful start a couple stumbling blocks have tripped up the young Australian. Back to back early exits, one at the hands of Kalitta, have Crampton eyeing the NHRA FallNationals and a potential make or break race.

“We are not out of the championship Countdown by any means but we do need to make a move at the Texas Motorplex,” said Crampton. “We had a tough first round against Doug in St. Louis and in Charlotte we just missed it in the first round. This DHL Kalitta Air dragster has been running really well in qualifying so I am not worried at all.”

Crampton will be looking for his second Top Fuel win at the famed drag strip just south of Dallas. In 2015 at the FallNationals Crampton won Top Fuel taking out Steve Torrence in the final round. On his way to that lone Texas Motorplex win he had to defeat Kalitta, Brittany Force and Antron Brown before getting to Torrence. That kind of victory gauntlet is what making competing in the Top Fuel category so appealing to Crampton.

“You look at the level of the Top Fuel teams in the Countdown this year and even previous years,” said Crampton. “This is one of the toughest eras in the sport’s history. If you get a win this year you will most likely have had to race easily three championship caliber teams. There are no easy round wins. You can’t take one single round off and I am eager for the challenge starting this weekend.”

Not since 2013 have three different Top Fuel racers and three different Funny Car racers won the first three races of the Countdown. That kind of championship competitiveness has opened the door for Crampton and the DHL team to still have a shot at winning the title. That mission will begin this Friday with two qualifying sessions including a run under the lights with optimal conditions.

“That Q2 run will be critical I think. It will be cooler weather and I could easily see the top half of the field being set on that run. The good news is that is when my DHL team steps up. Those conditions are perfect for (crew chief) Connie Kalitta to show his talent,” added Crampton.

2018 NHRA FallNationals Highlights: Qual. No. 16; Lost to Clay Millican

Last Event Recap (2019 NHRA Carolina Nationals): Qual. No. 4; Lost to Austin Prock

Quotable: Crampton on heading to Texas Motorplex: “I own this race a few years ago and I would love to do it again. We need to go some rounds in this DHL Kalitta Air dragster. This is the last of three races and I honestly think is we can go some rounds at the Motorplex and a few people in front of us stumble we will be right in the middle of the Mello Yello championship battle over the final two races.”

Career Stats: 124 events, 123 starts, 103 round wins, 10 wins, 12 finals, 5 No. 1 qualifiers

2019 Season:
Winternationals: Qual. No. 6; Lost to Terry McMillen
Arizona Nationals: Qual. No. 15; Lost to Terry McMillen
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. No. 12; Lost to Doug Kalitta and Leah Pritchett
Atlanta: Qual. No. 7; Lost to Scott Palmer
Richmond: Qual. No. 7; Lost to Austin Prock
Chicago: Qual. No. 11; Beat Austin Prock; Lost to Steve Torrence
Topeka: Qual. No. 7; Beat Terry McMillen; Lost to Billy Torrence
Bristol: Qual. No. 9; Lost to Terry McMillen
Norwalk: Qual. No. 8; Lost to Billy Torrence
Epping: Qual. No. 2; Beat Audrey Worm, bye; Lost to Steve Torrence
Denver: Qual. No. 8; Beat Austin Prock; Lost to Steve Torrence
Sonoma: Qual. No. 7; Beat Terry McMillen; Lost to Steve Torrence
Seattle: Qual. No. 6; Lost to Antron Brown
Brainerd: Qual. No. 11; Lost to Clay Millican
Indianapolis: Qual. No. 5; Lost to Austin Prock
Reading: Qual. No. 4; WINNER; Beat Dan Mercier, Antron Brown, Brittany Force and Doug Kalitta
St. Louis: Qual. No. 7; Lost to Doug Kalitta
Charlotte2: Qual. No. 4; Lost to Austin Prock

Shawn LangdonGlobal Electronic Technology Team and Langdon Focused on FallNationals Victory

Shawn Langdon

Shawn Langdon

Shawn Langdon and the Global Electronic Technology Toyota Camry will be looking to the NHRA FallNationals this weekend as a chance to jump back into the Mello Yello championship hunt. The have collected one win in the Countdown, a tough win over teammate J.R. Todd in St. Louis, but they were unable to go back-to-back earlier this week at the NHRA Carolina Nationals. Langdon was racing to become the first Funny Car driver to win both the spring and fall event at zMAX Dragway and also win two Countdown races in a row. An early exit set the team back but with the competitive landscape of the Funny Car class the former Top Fuel world champion is definitely still in contention.

“The Carolina race set us back a little but if you look at the points no one is running away with the class,” said Langdon. “I still have a lot of confidence on our chance to win the championship. There has been a different winner of every Countdown race in the Funny Car class so far this season. That shows you how competitive and wide open this class is.”

Langdon can lean on his Top Fuel success heading into this weekend’s NHRA FallNationals at the Texas Motorplex. Two years ago he was the Top Fuel runner-up which was one of his three runner-up finishes in that category at the north Texas super-track. He has also collected two No. 1 qualifiers in Top Fuel starting the race from the top spot in 2012 and 2013.

“I really think the Top Fuel versus Funny Car comparisons only go so far,” said Langdon. “The race cars are very different to driver but I do think I am very comfortable racing at the Texas Motorplex. It is a great race track. The Texas fans are great and there will be a lot of them there.”

In just his second year racing Funny Car Langdon has shown this season he has great command over his 11,000 horsepower Toyota Camry race car. He has raced to three final rounds and picked up a win at the Carolina Four-Wide event and a Countdown win two races ago in St. Louis. With every lap Langdon’s confidence in the process grows.

“When you make the switch from Top Fuel to Funny Car you have to unlearn and relearn a lot of information and habits. I feel better every time I strap into this Global Electronic Technology Camry Funny Car. My team has given me a great race car and I just have to go out there and keep it in the groove. We are ready to take on these next three races but our championship race starts this weekend at the Motorplex,” added Langdon.

2018 NHRA FallNationals Highlights: Qualified No. 9; Lost to Cruz Pedregon

Last Event Recap (2019 NHRA Carolina Nationals): Qual. No. 10; Lost to Tim Wilkerson

Quotable: Langdon on heading to Texas Motorplex: “You can set some records at the Texas Motorplex if the conditions are right. This Global Electronic Technology Camry will be looking to get some of those qualifying bonus points and clawing our way back up the point standings. The Motorplex is a great track to get on a roll.”

Career Stats: 253 events, 250 starts, 285 round wins, 16 wins, 33 finals, 18 No. 1 qualifiers; in Funny Car: 45 events, 45 starts, 35 round wins, 2 wins, 3 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 Wilkeron and Jeff Diehl
Houston: Qual. No. 10; Beat Cruz Pedregon; Lost to Ron Capps
Charlotte1: Qual. No. 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
Bristol: Qual. No. 2; Beat Jeff Diehl; Lost to Ron Capps
Norwalk: Qual. No. 12; Beat Blake Alexander; Lost to Jack Beckman
Epping: Qual. No. 5; RUNNER-UP; Beat Jim Campbell, Robert Hight, Tim Wilkerson; Lost to Matt Hagan
Denver: Qual. No. 9; Beat Tim Wilkerson; Lost to Robert Hight
Sonoma: Qual. No. 2; Beat Terry Haddock; Lost to John Force
Seattle: Qual. No. 6; Beat Cruz Pedregon; Lost to Matt Hagan
Brainerd: Qual. No. 6; Beat Paul Lee, Bob Bode; Lost to Ron Capps
Indianapolis: Qual. No. 7; Beat Tommy Johnson Jr.; Lost to Matt Hagan
Reading: Qual. No. 8; Lost to Matt Hagan
St. Louis: Qual. No. 10; WINNER; Beat Tommy Johnson Jr., Jim Campbell, Bob Tasca III and J.R. Todd
Charlotte2: Qual. No. 10; Lost to Tim Wilkerson

J.R. ToddJ.R. Todd and DHL Toyota Looking to Add Funny Car Win at Texas Motorplex

J.R. Todd

J.R. Todd

With three races left in the 2019 season the DHL Toyota Camry team and driver J.R. Todd are in position to make a run at back-to-back Funny Car world championships. So far during the Countdown Todd has recorded a semifinal finish and a runner-up finish to teammate Shawn Langdon. On Monday the team made an earlier than expected exit at the Carolina Nationals but Todd and the rest of the team are ready to get back onto the track at the NHRA FallNationals this weekend.

“Thankfully the Countdown lets you have one slip-up without ruining your championship plans,” said Todd. “We didn’t have the kind of success we were hoping for on the rained delayed race on Monday but we put that behind us. We are ready to get to the Texas Motorplex and get back to the final there. I want to get a Funny Car win to go with my Top Fuel win.”

A Funny Car win for Todd would add him to an impressive list of Top Fuel and Funny Car winners at the historic race track located just south of Dallas, Texas. Only Kenny Bernstein, Mike Dunn, Ed McCulloch and Don Prudhomme have doubled up in the nitro classes with dual wins. For Todd getting to add his name to that list would mean something special.

“You look at those four guys and they are all Hall of Famers and I mean legendary Hall of Famers,” said Todd. “It is cool to be able to say you won in Top Fuel and Funny Car anywhere but the Motorplex is a great race track. I got that Top Fuel win over Tony Schumacher like over ten years ago so we need to get back into the winner’s circle.”

Last season Todd was in a neck and neck battle with Robert Hight and the pair battled it out in the final round of the FallNationals. Hight took the win that day but Todd finished the season with two consecutive wins and his first Funny Car championship. This season Todd is contending with Hight and a handful of other Funny Car drivers in his effort to repeat as the world champion.

“There are a lot of Funny Cars that are running strong. We are definitely one of them. The key to race day success is to make four good qualifying runs. We got behind the eight ball in Charlotte and that is what cost us. We are focusing on coming out of the gate strong on Friday in Dallas. That second qualifying session on Friday under the lights will be a critical run for all the teams. I like my chances with these ‘Yella Fellas’ on my DHL Camry,” added Todd.

2018 NHRA FallNationals Highlights: Qual. No. 4; RUNNER-UP; Beat John Hale, Jack Beckman, Tommy Johnson Jr.; Lost to Robert Hight

Last Event Recap (2019 NHRA Carolina Nationals): Qual. No. 12; Lost to John Force

Quotable: J.R. Todd on heading to Texas Motorplex: “We almost got the win there last year but we still got a lot of momentum coming out of that race. I have had some success there and there will be a lot of Toyota VIPs at the race. We are going to keep battling with this DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car and try and get back in the winner’s circle.”

Career Stats: 221 events, 213 starts, 235 round wins, 18 wins, 33 finals, 12 No. 1 qualifiers; in Funny Car: 69 events, 69 starts, 9 wins, 13 finals, 85 round wins, 3 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
Bristol: Qual. No. 5; Beat Terry Haddock; Lost to Jack Beckman
Norwalk: Qual. No. 7; Beat Robert Hight; Lost to John Force
Epping: Qual. No. 1; Beat bye; Lost to Tim Wilkerson
Denver: Qual. No. 11; Lost to John Force
Sonoma: Qual. No. 11; Lost to Matt Hagan
Seattle: Qual. No. 2; Beat Jeff Diehl; Lost to Ron Capps
Brainerd: Qual. No. 10; Lost to Ron Capps
Indianapolis: Qual. No. 5; Beat Cruz Pedregon, Ray Martin; Lost to Jack Beckman
Reading: Qual. No. 10; Beat Tommy Johnson Jr., John Smith; Lost to Jack Beckman
St. Louis: Qual. No. 8; RUNNER-UP; Beat Jack Beckman, John Force, Robert Hight; Lost to Shawn Langdon
Charlotte2: Qual. No. 12; Lost to John Force
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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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