NORWALK, Ohio (June 26, 2016) - J.R. Todd, driver of the SealMaster Top Fuel dragster, came into Norwalk looking for qualifying improvement. Four straight races qualifying eighth or ninth meant tough draws, and the SealMaster team was looking for more.
They got it. Earning qualifying bonus points with the first pass, Todd qualified amongst the top five for the first time since Atlanta. His first round draw though did not get any easier as Todd drew Terry McMillen, who is fighting for his first Countdown berth. Todd won the race on the tree, with a reaction time of .044, he was ahead instantly and never looked back.
Leah Pritchett would be Todd's next foe. With a berth in the semi-finals on the line, Todd and Pritchett left neck-and-neck, but the Connie Kalitta and Rob Flynn tuneup allowed Todd to steadily pull away despite a problem with the SealMaster machine near the finish line.
A repeat of the Atlanta final was next as Todd came up against his teammate, Doug Kalitta. Todd was not about to lose to Kalitta again. He made the best move at the starting line of the round and held on the entire run to reach his second final round of the season.
The opponent: last week's winner, Shawn Langdon. They were close leaving the starting line, but Todd had taken the lead by the 330 foot mark. However, soon after, the SealMaster ride experienced tire smoke. Todd did an expert driving job, but Langdon was able to get by.
"It is no fun to be so close and not be able to get the trophy," said Todd. "My SealMaster Toyota guys worked so hard this weekend and they deserved to get the Wally. We will try it again in Chicago and see if we can close the deal there."
Todd stays in the seventh position in the point standings.
Doug Kalitta, driver of the Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster, came to Norwalk looking to repeat and he started the race in the best way possible: on pole.
Kalitta earned his second straight Norwalk top starting spot in the evening session. Amongst the last pair to see the track, Kalitta laid down a 3.719, resetting the Norwalk track record and delivering Kalitta his third pole of the season and eighth top two start.
With just 15 machines on the property, Kalitta earned the right to have a bye. He needed it. The Mac Tools machine smoked the tires almost instantly. However, with no opponent in the other side of the track, Kalitta earned his 11th first round win of the season in just 12 starts.
Next up, Kalitta faced Pat Dakin for the second time in the last two events. Dakin, who defeated Clay Millican in the first round, delivered a solid reaction time in the first round, but was unable to compete with Kalitta this time. The Mac Tools driver left first with a .037 light and took that to the stripe with a wire-to-wire win. His 3.814 second pass gave him lane choice over his teammate in his ninth semi-final of the season. This time, his teammate, J.R. Todd, got the best of the Mac Tools machine, ending Kalitta's run at a repeat early.
"My Mac Tools team did great work on this four-race run," said Kalitta. "We are halfway though our season, and we are where we set out to be. We will continue to learn and race hard, and plan to be even better in the second half of 2016."
Kalitta retains the points lead at the halfway point of the season.
Del Worsham, driver of the DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car, backed up his second starting position in Bristol in a big way on Friday night in Norwalk. With conditions perfect, Jon Oberhofer and Nicky Boninfante had ahold of the tune-up and gave Worsham his career-best run. Worsham's 3.875 second pass reset the Summit Motorsports Park track record and his 328.70 MPH was also a new track best.
However, the excitement the DHL team felt was short-lived as the DHL Camry parachutes failed to engage on the last pass of qualifying sending the Toyota Camry in the sand. The DHL 'Yella Fellas' were resilient and worked to the late hours of the night. They were able to get everything fixed and join Worsham across the stage for driver introductions.
The reward for being the no.1 qualifier was similar to his teammate, a bye first round. It was a great opportunity to test everything and get some good data to move on throughout the day. However, the day would not end with a win as Tommy Johnson Jr., ran the session-best pass in the second round ending Worsham's weekend.
"Very, very frustrating weekend," said Worsham. "It started so awesome, but to tear up that new DHL Toyota body is not something we wanted to do. I am extremely proud of the effort out my team and the hours they put in."
Worsham moved up to fourth in the point standings.
Through twelve events on the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season, Team Kalitta owns four wins, ten final round appearances and three no.1 qualifiers. The NHRA circuit takes the July 4th weekend off then returns to the Windy City for the Route 66 Nationals in Joliet, Ill.
J.R. Todd – Driver of the SealMaster Top Fuel Dragster:
No. 5 Qualifier (3.759 sec., 319.75 mph)
Doug Kalitta – Driver of the Mac Tools Top Fuel Dragster:
No. 1 Qualifier (3.719 sec., 327.51 mph) **TRACK RECORD ET**
Del Worsham – Driver of the DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car:
No. 1 Qualifier (3.875 sec., 328.70mph) **TRACK RECORD ET and MPH and CAREER BEST ET***
Alexis DeJoria: Driver of the Kalitta Motorsports Tequila Patrón Toyota Camry Funny Car
No. 12, 4.002 E.T. at 313.15 MPH
Quotable: Alexis DeJoria, Driver
We definitely turned it around on race day, like we usually do. We made two really good runs in our Patrón Toyota Camry but unfortunately; we lost in the second round.
We were hoping to get a win at one of these back-to-back races, but unfortunately, we didn’t take home the prize this weekend. On the bright side, we do have a good hot weather tune-up so we feel pretty good. It wasn’t a great weekend, but we made progress.
We have about a week and a half off until Chicago, and we’ll just get back up on the horse and get ready for the next race.
NHRA Countdown to the Championship Points Standing:
640 points, ranked 10th
About Alexis DeJoria
Alexis DeJoria is a professional NHRA racecar driver, competing in the nitro Funny Car class on the Kalitta Motorsports team. Alexis drives the Tequila Patrón-sponsored 2016 Toyota Camry. Alexis, who had all the opportunity in the world to pursue any type of career, felt strongly about following her passion, and her need for adrenaline drove her to pursue the unlikely profession of auto-racing. The determination to ‘blaze her own trail’ continues to drive her and push her to higher levels in the sport of NHRA drag racing.
About Tequila Patrón
From hand-harvesting the highest-quality 100 percent Weber Blue Agave, to the traditional, time-honored distillation process and individual labeling, numbering, and inspection of each bottle, Patrón tequila is crafted with meticulous precision and care. Though Patrón has grown to become one of the most-recognized and respected luxury spirits brands in the world, it is still exclusively produced in the Highlands of Jalisco, Mexico, in the same small batches and with the same commitment to quality and craftsmanship. For more information about Patrón tequilas and liqueurs, please visit www.patrontequila.com.
Top Fuel (Unofficial)
1. Doug Kalitta (1009)
2. Antron Brown (940)
3. Steve Torrence (846)
4. Brittany Force (832)
5. Tony Schumacher (729)
6. Shawn Langdon (711)
7. J.R. Todd (645)
8. Clay Millican (572)
9. Richie Crampton (570)
10. Leah Pritchett (463)
Funny Car (Unofficial)
1. Ron Capps (966)
2. Courtney Force (836)
3. Jack Beckman (832)
4. Del Worsham (760)
5. Tommy Johnson Jr. (750)
6. Matt Hagan (747)
7. Tim Wilkerson (723)
8. Robert Hight (722)
9. John Force (668)
10. Alexis DeJoria (640)