Kalitta Motorsports News
Doug Kalitta, enters the event as the Top Fuel Mello Yello point leader for the fourth consecutive event. Top Fuel teammate Shawn Langdon and Funny Car teammate J.R. Todd will be looking to move further up the Top Ten standings.
Langdon Hopes Third Time the Charm in Indianapolis
Heading into the fifth race of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing season Shawn Langdon and his DHL/Kalitta Air Top Fuel team can feel some momentum building. For the third consecutive race the team will be racing in Indianapolis and the familiarity of the facility does give Langdon some motivation as well as stability. The NHRA Nationals will kick off with one day of qualifying on Saturday followed by eliminations on Sunday format which will air live on FOX.
“I know NHRA is doing everything they can to keep the season going,” said Langdon. “We should be in Denver this weekend and we are hoping to get there later this season. Everyone is working to keep the fans and teams safe so we just race when and where they tell us to race. It is great to be back at in the track in Indy and it sort of feels like we are racing for the track championship coming back for the third week but there is a Top Fuel championship on the line instead.”
The 2013 NHRA Top Fuel world champion is currently No. 7 in the Mello Yello Top Fuel point standings. The battle in the middle of the standings is tight with only 54 points (less than three rounds of racing) separating Langdon from the No. 3 spot. His teammate Doug Kalitta continues to have a commanding lead but Langdon knows he wants to get up closer to the Mac Tools dragster.
“Doug has been on a tear this season,” said Langdon. “We are both running great dragsters and you have to look at the support we all get from Mobil1, Toyota Racing Development and NGK Spark Plugs on the performance side. Kalitta Motorsports has done a great job of getting all three teams on the same page and really working well together. I have enjoyed the move back to dragster and I think our performance is going to start stepping up this weekend.”
The team will be continuing to highlight a number of sponsors for added exposure heading into their third race on FOX. Look for enhanced branding for long-time sponsor SealMaster on the front side of the DHL dragster. Additionally, there will be TRD branding below Toyota logo on cockpit side with Revchem Composites branding on side window. The rear wing will be adorned with Toyota and Mobil1 branding.
The prior two seasons saw Langdon wheeling a Nitro Funny Car, racing to two victories in 2019 and a Top Ten finish. His career has been defined by the dragster whether it was in the early days coming up through the junior dragster ranks to sportsman classes or his first years in Top Fuel. The second generation racer has always enjoyed the acceleration and power that comes from hitting the throttle on an 11,000 horsepower Top Fuel dragster.
“A lot of people ask about the switch to Funny Car and now back to Top Fuel,” said Langdon. “The biggest change going to Funny Car was the handling of the race car going down the track. That took some time to get used to and get that under control. Coming back to Top Fuel I have had to get used to the immediate acceleration. There is nothing like the launch of a Top Fuel dragster. I am back to being very comfortable and I think you’ll see the results of the rest of the season.”
The race coming up in Indianapolis could also be Langdon’s last chance to get some laps on the track that will host the biggest drag race in the country the U.S. Nationals Labor Day weekend. After this weekend there is a short break and the month wraps up with the NHRA Southern Nationals in Commerce, Georgia, August 29-30. Getting a second U.S. Nationals win if definitely on Langdon’s to-do list this season.
“This track in Indy is special. These races we are running now don’t compare to the U.S. Nationals. That race has its own vibe. No matter what is going on, winning the U.S. Nationals is a big deal. No one know how this season will play out so we want to get as many round wins as possible and win as many races as possible. We want have some success this weekend and move on from there,” added Langdon.
Last Event Recap (2020 NHRA Indy2 Nationals): Qual. No. 3; Lost to Justin Ashley
Quotable: Shawn Langdon on getting back to action: “I am ready to get back to the track. It is cool that I don’t have to go to an airport but the travel is also something that helps get you into a race mindset. Once you get to the track you focus on the task at hand no matter where you are racing. It will be good to see my DHL guys and get back behind the wheel.”
Career Stats: 260 events, 257 starts, 289 round wins, 16 wins, 33 finals, 18 No. 1 qualifiers; in Top Fuel 212 events, 209 starts, 14 wins, 30 finals, 250 round wins, 18 No. 1 qualifiers
Winternationals: Qual. No. 4; Lost to Justin Ashley
Arizona Nationals: Qual. No. 7; Beat Clay Millican; Lost to Steve Torrence
Indy1 NHRA Nationals: Qual. No. 8; Beat Justin Ashley; Lost to Steve Torrence
Indy2 NHRA Nationals: Qual. No. 3; Lost to Justin Ashley
Doug Kalitta Back with Mac Tools and Looking to Extend Points Lead
For Top Fuel point leader Doug Kalitta this weekend’s race could not get here fast enough. Since the start of the 2020 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing season Kalitta has had the best race car, the Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster, in any of the categories across the series. He has raced to three final rounds including a season opening win at the Winternationals. Two weeks ago he stumbled dropping a quarterfinal race to Justin Ashley snapping his final round streak at four races total extending all the way back to the Auto Club Finals in November of 2019.
“My crew chief Rob Flynn and the boys have this Mac Tools dragster running awesome,” said Kalitta. “We went blue last week with new sponsor Osborn and we didn’t get as far into the race as we would have liked. Those guys were great to have at the track and I know we connected them with some of our other partners. You love having new sponsors come to the races and we got a lot of quality time with them.”
For Kalitta this season is one more in a long list of successful endeavors. Earlier this year he picked up his 700th round win and he is two wins away from 50 career Top Fuel victories. As the point leader the veteran driver knows he has a bulls-eye on his back every time he comes to the starting line.
“I love the competition. I have to thank Connie for giving me this opportunity but there is nothing better than getting a win light or running low E.T.,” said Kalitta. “I have been with Mac Tools a long time as well as many other sponsors like Toyota and Mobil1. We have a great team and I am looking forward to getting back to Indy and going more rounds this weekend. We’ll be back in the red Mac Tools dragster with some new TRD, Revchem Composite and Mobil1 logos on this race car.”
Since the season opening win in California Kalitta has held the Top Fuel point lead. Heading into the NHRA Nationals in Indianapolis this weekend he holds a 95 point lead over second place. The dominance and consistency of the Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster has provided Kalitta the confidence to stay at the top of his game.
“We had a second round loss two weeks ago and those are tough. We know every race we have a car that can win or at least get to the finals. We are getting good runs in qualifying and then making them count on Sunday. I have said it before Rob Flynn is doing a great job. This race car performs as well or better than any car I have raced. We finished last year strong and picked right up this year,” added Kalitta.
Last Event Recap (2020 NHRA Indy2 Nationals): Qual. No. 6; Beat Doug Foley; Lost to Justin Ashley
Quotable: Doug Kalitta on getting back to Indy: “This will be our third race in a row in Indy and we have the U.S. Nationals on Labor Day weekend. I am glad NHRA is doing everything they can to keep us racing. This is a great track with a lot of history. I am glad to see more fans at the races and we just want everyone to have a good time and be safe.”
Career Stats: 517 events, 510 starts, 701 round wins, 48 wins, 104 finals, 50 No. 1 qualifiers
Winternationals: Qual. No. 5; WINNER; Beat Brandon Welch, Justin Ashley, Brittany Force and Austin Prock
Arizona Nationals: Qual. No. 8; RUNNER-UP; Beat Shawn Reed, Brittany Force and Antron Brown; Lost to Steve Torrence
Indy1 NHRA Nationals: Qual. No. 2; RUNNER-UP; Beat Lex Joon, Leah Pruett and Antron Brown; Lost to Billy Torrence
Indy2 NHRA Nationals: Qual. No. 6; Beat Doug Foley; Lost to Justin Ashley
DHL and J.R. Todd Focused on Indy Success
For J.R. Todd, the two-time U.S. Nationals winner, getting back to the track in Indianapolis is always a special event. It is a track where he raced junior dragsters growing up and then captured the biggest single day win in drag racing not just once but twice. The second win paved the way for his first NHRA Mello Yello Funny Car world championship in 2018. This weekend Todd and his DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car team will be rolling on the property for the third installment off the NHRA Nationals in Indianapolis as the pandemic affected NHRA season marches on.
“I love racing at Indy,” said Todd. “Lots of history here for me personally and for the sport of NHRA. This will be our third shot at getting another win and I like our chances. We are making good runs on Saturday and we just need to string a few more round wins together on Sunday.”
For Todd the chance to go rounds on Sunday could lead to another move up the Mello Yello Funny Car point standings. He is tied for sixth place and is just 63 points out of fourth. A strong race this weekend could help the former Funny Car champ reel in the top three Funny Cars.
“This season is really interesting since there are a lot if unknowns,” said Todd. “I am hopeful we will get a lot more races in but we just don’t know. I know our team and the NHRA are doing everything we can to be ready to race. I live close to the track so I don’t mind racing in Indy but I know there are fans in other parts of the country that would love to see this DHL Toyota Camry in person.”
While the teams are racing again in Indy the interest in the sport continues to grow. The Fox broadcast numbers have been encouraging showing a jump of over 300,000 viewers from the first NHRA Nationals held in Indy to the second national event that was unfortunately shortened by rain. The coverage and exposure on Fox is one of many aspects of getting back to racing that encourages Todd.
“We want to be successful on the track but also on TV. Seeing the Fox numbers going up is great for our team and our sponsors like DHL, Toyota, Wix Filters, Mobil1 and NGK Spark Plugs. You want to go rounds on Sunday so you can get those top end interviews to thank all the people that help you out. This DHL team has been working really hard to get better every race. I think we will see even better results as the season goes on starting this weekend,” added Todd.
Last Event Recap (2020 NHRA Indy2 Nationals): Qual. No. 5; Beat Jim Campbell; Lost to Matt Hagan
Quotable: J.R. Todd on getting back to Indy: “This DHL team just wants to race. We’ll race in Indy or Atlanta or Dallas. We just want to keep the season going. I know a lot of people are working really hard to make this happen and I want to thank them for their efforts. Everyone is having to make adjustments and we just want to keep making runs and turning on win lights.”
Career Stats: 228 events, 220 starts, 240 round wins, 18 wins, 33 finals, 12 No. 1 qualifiers; in Funny Car: 76 events, 76 starts, 9 wins, 13 finals, 92 round wins, 3 No. 1 qualifiers
Winternationals: Qual. No. 8; Lost to Time Wilkerson
Arizona Nationals: Qual. No. 9; Lost to Ron Capps
Indy1 NHRA Nationals: Qual. No. 4; Beat Alex Miladinovich, Alexis DeJoria; Lost to Tommy Johnson Jr.
Indy2 NHRA Nationals: Qual. No. 5; Beat Jim Campbell; Lost to Matt Hagan
Doug Kalitta, Osborn Exit SummerNationals With Points Lead
Flying the blue and white of new sponsor Osborn this weekend Doug Kalitta powered his Top Fuel dragster to a quarterfinal finish at the NHRA SummerNationals in Indianapolis. After two solid runs in qualifying yesterday Kalitta started the race day as the No. 6 qualifier. His first round opponent was Doug Foley and the Mello Yello point leader knew he could not take the racer from Mooresville, North Carolina lightly.
The Osborn Top Fuel dragster and Kalitta got the jump off the starting line and they never trailed in the drag race. Kalitta’s winning time of 3.808 seconds outpaced Foley’s respectable 3.968 second run. As Kalitta crossed the finish line he flew through the speed trap at 319.45 mph, which combined with his elapsed time were his quickest and fastest numbers of the weekend. The round win was important when you consider how tough the competition is and how the NHRA is working to maximize events across the country.
In the second round Kalitta had lane choice over second generation driver and upstart Top Fuel racer Justin Ashley. In a close race that was decided by just a few feet it was Kalitta coming up short but not discouraged. As both dragsters approached the finish line Ashley was mixing up cylinders but he had just enough of an edge to out distance the Osborn dragster.
“That was just racing,” said Kalitta. “A second-round loss - that’s one of those deals that you just hope doesn’t happen. We had a pretty strong run in going A to B. We were right there. Overall, it was good having Osborn on the car with us this weekend. I love running this place. We’ll just keep our heads down and move on to the next one."
Even with the quarterfinal loss, his earliest exit since the AAA Texas FallNationals in Dallas last season, a span of seven races Kalitta was encouraged to hold onto the points lead.
"You want to put as many rounds on the guys behind you as possible,” said Kalitta. “The Torrences are back there and there are other cars too. We will leave with the points lead no matter what but it would have been great to get two more round wins today."
In two weeks the NHRA will be back in Indianapolis and Kalitta is looking forward to the return to the site of his biggest career win, the 2019 U.S. Nationals.
"We will be back in Indy in a couple weeks and I love racing here. There is a lot of history and we have won rounds. This weekend we were with Osborn and we'll be back with Mac Tools in a couple weeks. Rob and Troy have a great handle on this tune up and I have a lot of confidence. We are going to just tray and qualifying as best we can and win as many rounds as possible."
Doug Kalitta on snapping streak of final round appearances: “We will just have to try and get that streak going again in a couple of weeks. We have a great race car and I know Rob and Troy will look at how to make it even better for the rest of the season.”
Qualified: No. 6 (3.907 sec., 308.35 mph)
Bonus points: 0
Driver Qual R/T ET MPH
Doug Kalitta 6 .077 3.808 319.45 (W)
Doug Foley 11 .096 3.968 298.80
Driver Qual R/T ET MPH
Doug Kalitta 6 .065 3.830 314.46
Justin Ashley 14 .059 3.811 314.02 (W)
J.R. Todd Powers to Quarterfinals and Moves Up in Points
The DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car and J.R. Todd rolled off the trailer for the NHRA SummerNationals looking to move up the point standings and go rounds on race day. They immediately made an impact during Saturday’s first qualifying session posting one of the three quickest runs of the first round of qualifying and moving into race day as the No. 5 qualifier.
In the opening session today Todd took on veteran Funny Car racer Jim Campbell. Todd and his Camry Funny Car made their quickest run of the weekend on the way to victory. His 4.030 second run was enough to run away from Campbell who was drifting to the centerline and had to lift off the throttle Todd never trailed in the race after the race cars cleared the starting line Christmas Tree.
The round win moved Todd up to the 6th position in the Mello Yello Funny Car standings just two rounds out of 5th place. He advanced to the quarterfinals and a race with the most recent race winner Matt Hagan.
The DHL Toyota Camry was consistent in the quarterfinals posting a slightly quicker 4.028 second elapsed time but it wasn’t enough to outrun Hagan.
“These guys going to the later rounds like Hagan are throwing out big numbers and it shows that the track is capable of holding it,” said Todd. “We’re showing consistency, but we just need that little more to win these rounds and gain some points. The biggest thing is we’re not gaining on the guys in front of us. The DHL Toyota guys have come a long way in these two races. Hopefully, when we come back here for the third race we will be in contention to win. East coast, west coast, I just want to race, but I miss going to those other tracks as well.”
J.R. Todd on seeing more fans at the races: “It is cool to see more fans here this weekend. I just want to keep racing and stay safe.”
Qualified: No. 5 (4.059 sec., 313.73 mph)
Bonus points: +1 (3rd quickest of Q1)
Driver Qual R/T ET MPH
J.R. Todd 5 .090 4.030 314.68 (W)
Jim Campbell 12 .080 5.325 142.82
Driver Qual R/T ET MPH
J.R. Todd 5 .069 4.028 317.19
Matt Hagan 13 .097 3.949 323.81 (W)
Tough Outing Does Not Hurt Shawn Langdon, DHL Top Fuel
Coming back to the race track in Indianapolis just minutes from his home had Shawn Langdon and the DHL Top Fuel dragster team eager to spend a long day at the races. After the second qualifying run on Saturday which Langdon posted the quickest run of the session and collected three valuable bonus points the 2013 Top Fuel champion looked to be in a position to advance.
The unpredictability of the 2020 NHRA season reared its head as the No. 1 qualifier, No. 3 qualifier, the No. 5 qualifier and the No. 7 qualifier all lost in first round upsets. Unfortunately on the strength of his Saturday runs Langdon was the No. 3 qualifier that was ousted by eventual finalist Justin Ashley.
In one of the closest races of the first round Langdon and Ashley left side by side and were both charging down track. The pair were both flying to the finish line with Ashley barely out in front. When the scoreboards lit up it was Ashley with a quicker elapsed time of 3.829 seconds beside Langdon’s 3.891 second pass.
With a third race in Indianapolis in two weeks due to the postponement of the Denver NHRA National event Langdon is pleased he will have a home field advantage.
“It’s like racing for the Indy track championship. I don’t mind it, it’s just different,” said Langdon. “Truthfully, it’s nice. I’m at home every night and sleeping in my own bed. I can come out here and my condo is just 10 minutes from the track. I couldn’t tell you the last time I’ve been at home for a month in probably 10, 15 or 20 years. Of course, we want to go out and race, but it’s an aspect of life that I’ve missed. It’s nice being out here and racing. We’ve got a good car. Your team is like your family and it’s good to see them and work with them again. I’ve missed a lot of Connie’s jokes and his stories.”
Langdon on Top Fuel competition: “There are a lot of good Top Fuel cars out here. Look at some of the upsets in the first round. There are no easy rounds and you have to have a total package to get a win every single round. I have a lot of confidence in my DHL guys that we will be able to do that week in and week out.”
Qualified: No. 3 (3.855 sec., 314.46 mph)
Bonus points: +3 (Quickest of Q2)
Driver Qual R/T ET MPH
Shawn Langdon 3 .050 3.891 305.91
Justin Ashley 14 .062 3.829 321.27 (W)
After a full day of qualifying at the NHRA SummerNationals in Indianapolis all three Kalitta Motorsports entries are qualified in the top half and will have lane choice in the first round tomorrow. Shawn Langdon and the DHL Top Fuel dragster lead the way as the No. 3 qualifier followed by Mello Yello Top Fuel point leader Doug Kalitta who qualified No. 6. In Funny Car J.R. Todd qualified his DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car in the No. 5 position heading into eliminations which will start at 10 a.m. ET tomorrow.
In the first qualifying session Langdon powered his DHL Top Fuel dragster down the track with a solid 3.875 second at 316.30 mph run which slotted him No. 3 at the time. Just before the finish line Langdon felt his 11,000 horsepower dragster start to mix up cylinders and he lifted as he was approaching the stripe shavings off some elapsed time and speed.
Two pairs after Langdon raced his teammate and the Mello Yello Top Fuel point leader Doug Kalitta hazed the tires at the top end in the first official run behind the wheel of the Osborn Top Fuel dragster 4.258 seconds at 206.95 mph. He was in the last pair in the right lane and wound up No. 13 while Langdon will move into the second session as the No. 4 qualifier.
In Funny Car the DHL Toyota Camry driven by J.R. Todd blasted down the track with a 4.059 seconds at 313.73 mph pass to go to the top at the time and as the session came to a close Todd picked up one qualifying bonus point as the No. 3 qualifier. It was the season week in a row for Todd to come off the trailer with a strong opening session run.
“I am glad we are back racing for sure,” said Todd, after his first run. “We had a good run right off the trailer again and I feel good about where this DHL Toyota Camry is going into the final session and race day. I think we can see where the edge is on this tune-up so we can race smart on Sunday.
”In second session of the SummerNationals Kalitta stepped up with a nice smooth 3.907 second at 308.35 mph pass to grab the No. 6 qualifying position. His run was the fourth quickest of the session. As he was approaching the finish line his Osborn Top Fuel dragster once again hazed the tires but he was able to still post a much quicker elapsed time. He will face Doug Foley in the first round.
The DHL Top Fuel dragster and Langdon made the most impressive run of the second and final Top Fuel qualifying session. Langdon and his Connie Kalitta tuned dragster posted the quickest run of the session, 3.855 seconds at 314.46 mph, and picked up three qualifying bonus points. For the second weekend in a row Langdon will square off with upstart racer Justin Ashley.
“That last run was just what we needed for tomorrow,” said Langdon. “Connie and these DHL guys did a great job tuning this dragster today. We are 3.875 and then 3.855. We mixed up some cylinders and hurt the motor on the first run but we bounced back in the second session. We’ll be ready for the first round tomorrow for sure.
”The DHL Toyota Camry wrapped up Funny Car qualifying with a run that will give them valuable data for race day. Todd launched hard and was on a very quick run when his race car overpowered the track. The team will take the onboard data and set the car up for success in the first round again veteran racer Jim Campbell.
The NHRA SummerNationals will be televised on FOX national broadcast at noon ET.
Ypsilanti, MI (July 17, 2020) --- Today the NHRA released an updated schedule which includes a third NHRA national event in Indianapolis, Indiana, August 6-9. The move was precipitated by the postponement of the national events in Denver, Colorado and Brainerd, Minnesota, previously scheduled for August 8-9 and 15-16. Kalitta Motorsports is encouraged the NHRA is being flexible to keep us racing for our fans and sponsors until the Denver and Brainerd markets are able to be rescheduled. With Indy being the motorsports capital of the world having multiple events there is a positive for everyone involved. The additional Indianapolis race will be televised on FS1 and FOX national broadcast.
Last week the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series restarted with an exciting national event which was broadcast nationally on FS1 and FOX. Doug Kalitta raced to his third consecutive final round of the season, J.R. Todd raced to the semifinals in Funny Car and Shawn Langdon raced to the quarterfinals. All three drivers are in the Top Ten and look forward to continue racing in Indianapolis, home of the historic U.S. Nationals Labor Day weekend.
There will be more information to come as we get additional information from the NHRA. You can get updates from the Kalitta Motorsports social media channels as well as NHRA.com, NHRA.TV and National DRAGSTER.
The updated schedule* is below:
Indy3 NHRA National event, Indianapolis
Menards NHRA Heartland Nationals (PSC), Topeka, Kan.
NHRA Southern Nationals, Atlanta
NHRA U.S. Nationals (PSC/PSM), Indianapolis
NHRA Nationals (PSC/PSM), Reading, Pa.
NGK Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals (PSC/PSM), Charlotte
NHRA Gatornationals (PSC/PSM), Gainesville, Fla.
AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals PSC/PSM, St. Louis
NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals (PSC/PSM), Bristol, Tenn.
AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals (PSC/PSM), Dallas
NHRA SpringNationals (PSC/PSM), Houston
Oct. 30-Nov. 1
NHRA Nationals (PSC/PSM), Las Vegas
Auto Club NHRA Finals (PSC/PSM), Pomona, Calif.
*Denver, CO and Brainerd, MN events TBD