Indianapolis – The DHL Kalitta Air Top Fuel dragster made its best showing of the weekend when it counted the most. After two tough qualifying runs Shawn Langdon was entering the third installment of NHRA National events in Indianapolis from an unfamiliar starting spot, No. 14 in the sixteen car field. The team had been steadily improving on their runs on Saturday and was confident they could make an even better run in the first round.
“We were hazing the tires down track on Saturday and that cost us,” said Langdon. “With only two qualifying runs you can get behind the eight ball pretty quick out here. I know Connie and these DHL guys have been figuring somethings out so I am feeling good going into the first round. Anything can happen and you just have to be ready to take advantage of every opportunity.”
In a tough first round match-up with Leah Pruett the DHL dragster was up to the task. Langdon got the jump off the starting line and was on a great run. While he was making his best run of the weekend Pruett was on a solid run as well. At the finish line it was Pruett getting the win light after she made the quickest run of the event. Langdon and his DHL team improved tremendously from qualifying posting a 3.839 second run at 304.19 mph which would have qualified him No. 3 during Saturday’s qualifying sessions.
Indianapolis – Doug Kalitta and the Mac Tools Top Fuel team will leave Indianapolis with the Mello Yello point lead for the fifth race in a row of the 2020 NHRA season. Yesterday the team battled through two frustrating qualifying sessions and rolled into race day as the No. 12 qualifier. The veteran team was not deterred and focused their attention on the first round match-up with Cory McClenathan.
“We started out 12th and we kind of missed it in qualifying,” said Kalitta. “The cooler conditions definitely helped us in the first and second round.”
Race day showed a whole new Mac Tools team as Kalitta and his Rob Flynn tuned Top Fuel dragster roared to a first round win with a stout 3.767 second run. It was a flawless run to start the day and add another round win to Kalitta’s season stat total. Kalitta never trailed in the race and took the win light as well as lane choice to the second round against Clay Millican.
Indianapolis – The DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car and driver J.R. Todd took full advantage of a fast race car today at the third NHRA National event in a row outside of Indianapolis. In the final round of qualifying Todd posted the second quickest time of the session and the 2018 Funny Car champion took that momentum into race day as the No. 5 qualifier.
In the first round Todd took out upstart Funny Car driver Mike McIntire with a blistering 3.962 second run at 322.65 mph. The support of team sponsors Mobil1, NGK Spark Plugs and Toyota Racing Development all came together over the weekend to propel Todd to victory. The two-time U.S. Nationals winner never trailed in the race and took his win light into the quarterfinals with lane choice over veteran Cruz Pedregon.
Another three second run advanced Todd to the semifinals. The third round race pitted Todd versus Paul Lee and another tough match-up. Lee smoked the tires at the hit of the throttle and Todd took advantage of the mishap. His 4.329 second pass was enough to advance him to his fourteenth Funny Car final round.
Indianapolis – 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.
Indianapolis – 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.
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.
Indianapolis – 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.