CHANDLER, Ariz. (February 24, 2015) – Kalitta Motorsports preview the CarQuest Auto Parts Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Chandler, Ariz. This is the second race of 24 in the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello NHRA season.
Worsham plans to deliver after recent success
Del Worsham, driver of the DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car and defending 2015 Funny Car champion, left Pomona mere inches from earning his first Winternationals win, but is not looking at the loss as a disappointment. With so much recent success, Worsham is confident in his DHL Toyota team heading into the second event of the season.
Worsham, who has been a part of five of the last seven NHRA Funny Car final rounds, has been on a hot streak since the beginning of the 2015 Countdown for the Championship. In the last seven events, Worsham has earned a NHRA-best 20 round wins. The consistency in the Nicky Boninfante and Jon Oberhofer-tuned Camry led to round wins over Cruz Pedregon, his teammate Alexis DeJoria and John Force in the season opener.
The DHL team moves to the desert of Phoenix with a solid track record there as well. Before joining Team Kalitta, Worsham earned two wins at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in 2002 and 2004. Last season, Worsham qualified third and earned round wins over John Hale, Chad Head and Robert Hight, before coming up just short in the final. He returns to Phoenix looking for his latest win and plans on making that next step into the Winner’s Circle.
“The DHL team is rock solid and excited to be racing again,” said Worsham. “The Kalitta team as a whole has been strong in Phoenix and we come into the CarQuest Nationals confident that the DHL team is going to be one to beat for the Wally.”
Fans can meet Worsham as he signs autographs as part of the Mello Yello Powerhouse on noon Saturday.
Kalitta’s new rail has outstanding debut
Doug Kalitta, driver of the Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster, had an encouraging start to the new season as he debuted the new in-house Bounty Hunter Kalitta chassis to rousing success at the Winternationals.
Jim Oberhofer and the entire Mac Tools team continued to make gains throughout qualifying before setting a blistering pace in the final qualifying effort that nearly stole away the no.1 qualifying position. Kalitta rolled into Sunday as the no.2 qualifier and defeated Scott Palmer in the first round and the defending NHRA Mello Yello champion Antron Brown in the second round. That round win set-up an all Kalitta pairing in the semi-finals as Kalitta took on J.R. Todd in the first ever live round to air as part of the new Fox Sports NHRA television deal. Todd encountered problems, yielding the final round appearance to Kalitta. Although he came out on the losing end of a close final, Kalitta’s confidence is at a high as he transitions to the second race of the season.
“The work that went into Mac Tools team in the offseason was evident in Pomona,” said Kalitta. “Phoenix has been kind to our team the past two seasons, and we are hoping that this is our time to end up with the Wally.”
Kalitta was in last season’s Phoenix final round, just missing the Wally. He does own a Phoenix win as he celebrated victory in 2001. He also has an outstanding qualifying average at the track. Kalitta has two no.1 qualifying efforts in the past three seasons.
Kalitta is also milestone bound. A semi-final or better finish will help him become just the third driver to earn 550 round wins exclusively in the Top Fuel class and 12th driver overall in all NHRA pro classes. If Kalitta can find the Phoenix Winner’s circle, he will move past Kurt Johnson into 11th all-time in NHRA history for round wins.
Todd hopes his bright ride continues to turn heads in Phoenix
J.R. Todd, driver of the SealMaster Top Fuel dragster, had a strong start to the new season. With his best effort in Pomona since the 2014 season, Todd starts the season ranked fourth in the standings which already matches his 2015 season high. The Winternationals effort has Todd riding high leading into the second race of the season.
Todd struggled in day one of qualifying with a couple mechanical issues. However, Connie Kalitta and Rob Flynn turned the corner heading into Saturday and had a solid SealMaster machine going into race day. The driver was ready too as Todd had a solid light against his first round opponent, Brittany Force, and led to the stripe earning the first holeshot win this season in the series. He followed that up with a clean pass over Terry McMillen, before tire smoke saw him fall in the intramural battle versus his teammate, Kalitta.
Last season, Todd got his season kicked in gear in Phoenix. The team was strong throughout qualifying picking up multiple bonus points and a top three qualifying effort, before earning a first round win over McMillen. However, Todd is aware of the recent success for Kalitta Motorsports at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park and is searching for more.
“I am definitely looking forward to returning to the track with the SealMaster ride,” said Todd. “We are planning on keeping this early momentum rolling.” That very cool SealMaster ride was just named as one of the top new schemes in the NHRA according to experts.
Todd will be a part of his first SealMaster Track Walk of the season as he walks the Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park with fans prior to the race beginning on Sunday.
DeJoria’s ready for a return to the Winner’s Circle
Alexis DeJoria, driver of the Tequila Patrón Toyota Camry Funny Car, will never forget this race just two seasons ago. DeJoria qualified fourth and moved through the field eventually reaching the final round versus former champion Robert Hight. DeJoria toed the line and took off. Hight smoked the tires, and the Tequila Patrón Toyota Camry team were Funny Car winners for the first time.
Now two seasons later, DeJoria is ready for a return to victory. She started the season strong. In her 100th career event, DeJoria earned a round win at the Winternationals before coming up short against her teammate Worsham. DeJoria is also coming off a strong effort in Phoenix. One season after her first win, DeJoria returned to Phoenix and achieved a semi-final finish.
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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 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 is the home of the 2015 NHRA Mello Yello Funny Car World Champions, Del Worsham. He drives the DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car. Alexis DeJoria pilots the Tequila Patrón Toyota Camry Funny Car. J.R. Todd drives the SealMaster Top Fuel dragster while Connie’s nephew, Doug Kalitta, pilots the Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster. Connie serves as head tuner for all Team Kalitta entries. He is assisted by co-crew chiefs Jon Oberhofer and Nick Boninfante on the DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car, Tommy DeLago and Glen Huszar on the Tequila Patrón Toyota Camry Funny Car, Rob Flynn on the SealMaster Top Fuel dragster and Jim Oberhofer on the Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster.
Associate sponsors on Kalitta Motorsports’ race cars include ARP, AutoDesk CAM, Champion, Cogistics, Darton Sleeves, DHL, Justice Brothers, Kalitta Air, Mac Tools, Optima Batteries, Phoenix Fuel Converter, Red Line Oil, SealMaster, Summit Racing Equipment, Technicoat Companies, Tequila Patrón, TMS Titanium, Toyota and Ziebart.