News Ticker

Team Kalitta Auto Club Finals Race Report; Doug Kalitta Wins Auto Club Finals

Share

Post-Race Report
Event 24 of 24: NHRA Auto Club Finals
Auto Club Raceway at Pomona – Pomona, CA
November 15-17, 2019

doug kalittaDoug Kalitta Wins Auto Club Finals;
Runner-Up For Top Fuel Championship

Doug Kalitta

Doug Kalitta

Doug Kalitta and the Mac Tools Top Fuel team did everything they could to secure their first NHRA Mello Yello Top Fuel world championship. They raced to their third final round of the Countdown and won for the second time this year at Auto Club Raceway. At the end of the day winning the race was nearly enough for the veteran driver but he came up three points short and will end the season in the No. 2 position in Top Fuel. Kalitta defeated Terry McMillen, Justin Ashley, Leah Pritchett and teammate Richie Crampton in the final on the way to his 47th career Top Fuel win.

“I was real proud of the effort put in by this whole Mac Tools Toyota team today,” said Kalitta in the press room after his win. “Our goal today was to get to the final and we did that. In qualifying, with Steve Torrence getting above us in Q4 to take a 63-point lead it put us down three rounds and that was tough to make up. We ended up short, but we gave it all we could. Winning a championship is still on our bucket list. I love running here at Pomona and to come out of here with a win in the 60th year with Connie. He’s out here tuning Richie in the final and we knew he’d have it all tuned up. Connie’s an inspiration to me and everyone on our teams. He’s had a pretty impressive run and he still loves it. To have someone like that who’s so passionate is infectious to everyone involved.”

As the No. 6 qualifier Kalitta knew he would need to win the race and also get some help from competitors on the other side of the ladder. He entered race day in the No. 3 point position trailing the point leader by 63 points. Kalitta needed Steve Torrence to falter before the semifinals in order to have a shot at the title. Kalitta took out Terry McMillen in the first round as the second pair of cars down the track. In the opening session he was not taking his opponent lightly laying down as 3.740 second run for the win.

“That was a real good run for us,” said Kalitta after the first round. “I am just real happy to get down there. Today is the day when the rubber hits the road. I am happy Richie was able to get the win behind us and we will just keep digging here.”

In the second round Kalitta faced off against newcomer Justin Ashley. In a wild race Ashley took a minor starting line advantage and as Kalitta was catching up to him Ashley’s parachutes shook loose. The deployed chutes powered his dragster into tire smoke and dramatically slowed Ashley. Kalitta drove past him but the win was costly as he suffered a huge explosion just before the finish line destroying a motor in the process.

“The most excitement was in the second round when we just completely blew that thing up,” said Kalitta. “We just broke traction and legged it down. It was a hell of an explosion, then everybody chipped in and we got it together for the semis. Everyone just ran so hard and we ran a 3.73. I was so impressed with my guys.”

The semifinal race was a tough match-up with Leah Pritchett but Kalitta was up to the task racing to his fourth final round at the Auto Club Finals and 101st final round of his career. The race was never in doubt as Kalitta posted a winning elapsed time of 3.73 seconds as Pritchett was mixing up cylinders in the lane beside him posting a time of 3.908 seconds.

“It was definitely an interesting day,” said Kalitta from the top end after his 47th win. “We had hopes for the championship. Getting the win here with Mac Tools, Toyota, Red Line Oil and everybody that supports this team was special. I just couldn’t be happier with how it turned out today. Obviously Connie was throwing everything he had into Richie’s car. It was great having two Kalitta cars in the final. It was a good day and a good way to end the season.”

“We went in the right lane and I think both lanes were really good,” added Kalitta. “We figured Connie would have that thing tuned up. Rob (Flynn) and Troy (Fasching) tuned my car up to make sure we were going to stay ahead of them. It was a good run 3.71 but the conditions were getting good. This facility has gotten better as the weekend has gone on. The numbers were coming up towards the end of the day. I am just really glad we got by Richie since the last time we ran him in the final we got beat. I was thinking about that when I went out there but I have to say the Toyota guys are out there helping with everything about the track and all the information. They have been a big help.”

This was Kalitta’s fifth runner-up finish for the Top Fuel championship. The veteran driver finished second in 2016, 2006, 2004 and 2003.

Quotable:
Doug Kalitta on the fan and media reaction to his championship quest: “I’ve got a heck of a following. There are a lot of people who tell me how much they’d love to see me win a championship. I’d love nothing more than to get it done one of these years. So yeah, it’s one of those things that I’d love to be able to accomplish. We were only three points behind this year, so it’s good that we’re so competitive. We’re coming to these races and we’re running good. We came into the last day of the event with a chance to run for the championship.”

Statistics:
Qualified: No. 6 (3.717 sec., 326.24 mph)
Bonus points: 0

Race Details:

First Round
Driver Qual – R/T – ET – MPH
Doug Kalitta 6 .052 3.740 328.38 (W)
Terry McMillen 11 .081 5.811 112.50

Second Round
Driver Qual – R/T – ET – MPH
Doug Kalitta 6 .056 4.068 245.49 (W)
Justin Ashley 14 .051 4.705 157.74

Semifinal Round
Driver Qual – R/T – ET – MPH
Doug Kalitta 6 .057 3.730 331.85 (W)
Leah Pritchett 2 .077 3.908 302.08

Final Round
Driver Qual – R/T – ET – MPH
Doug Kalitta 6 .037 3.716 322.67 (W)
Richie Crampton 13 .077 4.884 154.28
twitter 48web link 48

Richie CramptonRichie Crampton and DHL Team Runner-Up at Auto Club Finals

Richie Crampton

Richie Crampton

As the winner of the first Countdown race Richie Crampton was chasing a second win in the final six race playoff series. The young Australian had a tough road in front of him starting race day from the No. 13 qualifying position. After two qualifying days of battling increasing temperatures on the track Crampton entered race day with nothing to lose and a lot of confidence in his DHL Kalitta Air Top Fuel team.

The opening round win over Mike Salinas showed the rest of the Top Fuel field that Crampton was not going to end his season with a whimper. Both race cars launched but Salinas immediately went up into smoke and lost all traction. He had no power and coasted to a top on the track and Crampton powered down his lane before he began smoking the tires. Crampton pedaled his dragster and got the win.

“It is going to be a long day for everyone of course,” said Crampton after the first round. “Everyone is going for it this weekend. I have to thank Reg Kenney and everyone at DHL. He is an amazing person to me. Connie and Kurt gave me a good race car and we are going to be right back in the next round.”

Crampton’s second round opponent was another first round upset winner, No. 12 qualifier Shawn Reed. The battle between the No. 13 and No. 12 was solid race as Crampton got the win light with a 3.796 second run against Reed’s 3.865 second pass.

In the semis Crampton was facing off against the point leader Steve Torrence. If Crampton took the win and Torrence crossed the center line it would open the door for his teammate Doug Kalitta to pick up his first world championship. In a tremendous effort Crampton blasted down the track and took the win to advance to his third final of the season and second of the Countdown. It was a hole shot win as Torrence was obviously playing his run safe to secure a win and took a .183 reaction time but Crampton’s DHL dragster still posted an impressive 3.762 second run for the win.

“That was a big win,” said Crampton. “We knew we needed to get the win to help Doug. Connie gave me an awesome race car and we got the win light. It will be a tough final round against Doug.”

In the final round against teammate Doug Kalitta Crampton was looking for a repeat of the Reading NHRA Nationals. Kalitta grabbed a jump off the starting line and was on a smooth run as Crampton smoked the tires and he pedaled it to try and chase down Kalitta.

“That was a great race. Both race cars were definitely tuned up. We got pretty aggressive because the conditions were getting better. I had to pedal it but what a day for Kalitta Motorsports. We got two dragsters to the finals to start the Countdown and we ended the Countdown with an all-Kalitta final round. I have to thank everyone at DHL and Toyota for a great season,” added Crampton.

The long day jumped Crampton up to the No. 6 position in the Top Fuel standings to end the season.

Quotable:
Richie Crampton on racing teammate Doug Kalitta again in the final: “Doug is an amazing competitor. You look at how strong that Mac Tools team was all season we knew it would be a tough race. We got them at the first race of the Countdown and we would have loved to have closed the season with another win.”

Statistics:
Qualified: No. 13 (3.751 sec., 325.45 mph)
Bonus points: 0

Race Details:

First Round
Driver Qual – R/T – ET – MPH
Richie Crampton 13 .087 4.204 260.46 (W)
Mike Salinas 4 .056 No Time

Second Round
Driver Qual – R/T – ET – MPH
Richie Crampton 13 .044 3.796 322.81 (W)
Shawn Reed 12 .088 3.865 281.77

Semifinal Round
Driver Qual – R/T – ET – MPH
Richie Crampton 13 .068 3.762 327.51 (W)
Steve Torrence 1 .183 3.751 324.59

Final Round
Driver Qual – R/T – ET – MPH
Richie Crampton 13 .077 4.884 154.28
Doug Kalitta 6 .037 3.716 322.67 (W)

Shawn LangdonLangdon Takes Global Electronic Technology Camry to Quarterfinals

Shawn Langdon

Shawn Langdon

Shawn Langdon powered the Global Electronic Technology Toyota Camry to the quarterfinals today at the Auto Club Finals to wrap up his second season in Funny Car. The two-time winner started race day as the No. 4 qualifier on the strength of his 3.893 second run on Friday night. Langdon picked up two qualifying bonus points and set up a first round match up with veteran Jeff Arend.

In the first round Langdon nearly gave away the race when he almost jumped the tree for a disqualification. Instead he cut a near perfect .006 reaction time and was able to hold off Arend for the round win. Neither race car made a strong run but Langdon was able to manhandle his Toyota Camry to the finish line first and advance to the second round.

In the quarterfinals Langdon squared off with the point leader Robert Hight in a race with championship implications. Both race cars left side by side and were together the length of the race track. At the finish line stripe it was Langdon coming up a few hundredths of a second short to the eventual Funny Car world champion.

“That was a really close race with Robert,” said Langdon. “They have a great team over there and you know you have to bring your best to the starting line. We gave them a good run and this Global Electronic Technology team had a good run this season. We picked up two wins this season and made the Countdown.”

Langdon captured the win in St Louis in the Countdown as well as a win at the Carolina Four-Wide Nationals. Langdon ended the season in ninth place in the NHRA Mello Yello point standings

Quotable:
Langdon on finishing season strong: “We never gave up this season or in the Countdown. I have to thank everyone at Global Electronic Technology for all their support this season. We battled every race and picked up a couple wins.”

Statistics:
Qualified: No. 4 (3.893 sec., 330.80 mph)
Bonus points: +2 (3rd quickest of Q2)

Race Details:

First Round
Driver Qual – R/T – ET – MPH
Shawn Langdon 4 .006 4.013 322.27 (W)
Jeff Arend 13 .055 5.410 142.29

Second Round
Driver Qual – R/T – ET – MPH
Shawn Langdon 4 .096 4.004 315.12
Robert Hight 5 .090 3.976 315.12 (W)

J.R. ToddEarly Day Ends J.R. Todd’s Bid for Back-to-Back Auto Club Finals Titles

J.R. Todd

J.R. Todd

In his quest to win back-to-back Auto Club Finals J.R. Todd and the DHL Toyota Camry came up just short racing to the quarterfinals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona. Todd will end his third season behind the wheel of the DHL Toyota Camry seventh in the Mello Yello point standings. Two days of intense qualifying action saw the reigning Funny Car champion roll into the final qualifying session not in the top sixteen. Crew chiefs Jon Oberhofer and Todd Smith tuned him up and he easily blasted into the field with a 3.972 second run.

In the opening round he was giving up lane choice to Tommy Johnson Jr. but Todd was very confident in his Yella Fella team. Todd took a slight starting line advantage and never trailed in the drag race. His winning elapsed time of 3.974 seconds was just a tick off his best qualifying run.

“That first round win was big,” said Todd. “We wanted to get some momentum from the Q4 run and that showed we could run in the heat. We knew it would be a warm day and would get hotter the longer the day went. I just wanted to do my job on the tree and give us the chance for a win.”

In the second round Todd would run up against No. 2 qualifier and eventual race winner Jack Beckman. Once again Todd got the jump off the starting line but his DHL Toyota Camry fell off just a bit and slowed to a 4.005 second run as Beckman posted a 3.958 second pass. It was a solid race but one that just did not go Todd’s way and ended his 2019 NHRA season.

“The second round was tough because we knew we were going against a pretty good race car,” said Todd. “I knew my guys could tune my DHL Camry up but there were some delays and I think it just got a little hot on the track. I can’t really say thanks enough to all my DHL guys and especially everyone from DHL that came out to support us this weekend. We had a great season and we are already excited for next season.”

Quotable:
J.R. Todd on going to another win at the Auto Club Finals: “You definitely want to win the last race of the season. If you can’t win you want to make good runs. We turned it around in Q4 and on race day. We got beat by the guy that eventually won the race. I am going to go to the banquet tomorrow night and celebrate the champions and then get to work on the 2020 season.”

Statistics:
Qualified: No. 10 (3.972 sec., 324.20 mph)
Bonus points: 0

Race Details:

First Round
Driver Qual – R/T – ET – MPH
J.R. Todd 10 .062 3.974 323.19 (W)
Tommy Johnson Jr 7 .067 4.101 258.02

Second Round
Driver Qual – R/T – ET – MPH
J.R. Todd 10 .056 4.005 318.47
Jack Beckman 2 .077 3.958 324.20 (W)
facebook 48twitter 48instagram red 48

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

Top Fuel
1 Steve Torrence 2607
2 Doug Kalitta 2604
3 Brittany Force 2555
4 Leah Pritchett 2474
5 Billy Torrence 2458
6 Richie Crampton 2399
7 Mike Salinas 2381
8 Austin Prock 2379
9 Antron Brown 2329
10 Clay Millican 2300

Funny Car
1 Robert Hight 2637
2 Jack Beckman 2629
3 Matt Hagan 2563
4 John Force 2471
5 Bob Tasca III 2446
6 Ron Capps 2414
7 J.R. Todd 2391
8 Tommy Johnson Jr 2360
9 Shawn Langdon 2358
10 Tim Wilkerson 2283

Photos courtesy of Gary Nastase Photography, driver photos: NHRA

Kalitta Motorsports logotwitter 48facebook 48instagram red 48web link 48

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

Share