READING, PA – Richie Crampton defeated teammate Doug Kalitta in an all-Toyota Top Fuel final to win Sunday’s NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway in the opening race of the Countdown to the Championship playoffs. With the runner-up showing, Kalitta has taken over the Top Fuel point lead with five races remaining.
In the final, Kalitta had a slight advantage at the tree (.067 to .074), but Crampton hooked up immediately and had taken over the lead by the 60’ mark and never relinquished it, winning 3.738-3.779 with a margin of victory of .034 seconds or approximately 17 feet. Crampton never trailed at 60 feet or beyond the entire day. Previously, defeating Dan Mercier with a 3.733-second pass, then knocking off fellow Toyota driver Antron Brown in the second round. In the semifinals, Crampton would run a solo as Brittany Force’s car suffered a mechanical failure at the starting line.
“It’s a huge win for us,” said a victorious Crampton. “I’m so lucky to be a part of this team. I hated to race my teammate, Doug Kalitta, in the final and win, but it was a great day for the whole team. We had three real strong runs to close out qualifying (including a 3.689), so we knew we had a car that could contend. Then we had another strong run in round one and made another solid pass in the second round. In the finals, we had a pretty good light and made a really good pass to beat a great driver and team. For DHL, Toyota, Wix, Global and everyone who’s stayed behind us, this is big. It’s the business time of the year. It’s just so important to get round wins and try to run for a championship. We’ve shown we have a car capable of competing for a championship. Now we just need to keep digging in these last five races.”
INDIANAPOLIS, IN – Doug Kalitta defeated Billy Torrence in the Top Fuel finals to win Monday’s NHRA U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis. The victory gives Kalitta his first U.S. Nationals crown in 22 years of competition and marks the tenth U.S. Nationals title for a Toyota driver.
Kalitta won a thriller in his opening round win, running identical 3.721-second passes with Clay Millican, but Kalitta’s .060 reaction time gave him the holeshot victory by .003 seconds. He then moved on to face pole-sitter Brittany Force in round two. Once again, Kalitta had the starting line advantage and never trailed in winning by .016 seconds. That sent the Mac Tools Toyota driver into the semifinals where Austin Prock had a slight lead at the tree, but was up in smoke early as Kalitta went straight down the track for the victory.
In the finals against Torrence, Kalitta again had the advantage at the tree and after Torrence smoked his tires, Kalitta had a solid lead at 660 feet, only to have his tires spin and lose power around 800 feet. He was able to coast across the finish line ahead of Torrence by .080 seconds for the win.
Sonoma, CA – Todd Looks For Third Sonoma Win in Four Years; Place in History Books…J.R. Todd will be looking for his third Sonoma Raceway in the past four years this weekend and should he accomplish that, he would become just the third driver in NHRA history to win multiple races at one track in both Nitro classes (Top Fuel and Funny Car) – joining Kenny Bernstein and Don Prudhomme. Todd won in Top Fuel in 2006 and 2016, while earning his first-ever Funny Car win in Sonoma in 2017.
Sonoma Special For Kalitta…Doug Kalitta will be returning to the site of his first Top Fuel win this week when the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series heads to Sonoma Raceway. The Mac Tools Toyota driver defeated Bruce Sarver in the finals in 1998 for the first of 45 Top Fuel victories. It was one of five victories (1998, 1999, 2000, 2004, 2005) for Kalitta in Sonoma, where he ranks as the track’s all-time Top Fuel win leader.
Brown Eyes 500th Round Win – Antron Brown can become just the sixth driver in NHRA history to earn 500 Top Fuel round wins with a first-round win on Sunday. The three-time world champion enters this weekend’s even with 720 career round wins, 499 in Top Fuel and 221 in Pro Stock Motorcycle – also the sixth-highest overall title.
MORRISON, CO – Antron Brown and Richie Crampton advanced to the second round in Top Fuel, while Shawn Langdon did the same in Funny Car to lead Toyota at the NHRA Mile High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway in suburban Denver, Sunday.
Brown opened the weekend by qualifying sixth and then opened with Gregg Carrillo in the first round. The three-time world champ took the lead at the starting line and never trailed on the way to the victory. It marked the eighth consecutive event that Brown has earned at least one round win.
In round two against Jordan Vandergriff, Brown again registered the better reaction time, but Vandergriff made up the difference quickly and went on to win by .053 seconds.
“We made some big strides this weekend in our Matco Tools Toyota,” said Brown, who sits just 13 points out of second-place. “Our crew chiefs made some big moves. They have wanted to switch some stuff around in some different combinations. We did it here and it worked out for the better. We would have liked to go further, but you have to look at all the pluses – we’re leaving here without tearing up any parts, we made big gains and have our car where it didn’t drop holes anymore and we’re running good mph through the finish line. We’re really looking to going to Sonoma next weekend. I think Sonoma is going to be a breakout race. I can’t wait to get out to the track.”
NORWALK, OH –Antron Brown qualified seventh in Top Fuel, while J.R. Todd placed seventh in Funny Car to lead Toyota into Sunday’s Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals at the Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio.
Brown was the top qualifier in Friday’s opening session with a 3.742-second run at 326 mph and then ran the third-quickest time in Saturday’s final session to earn four bonus points for the weekend – the second-highest total of the weekend in Top Fuel. Overall, he registered three 3.7-second passes in the four sessions.
“I’m feeling good for tomorrow,” said Brown, who will race Scott Palmer in Sunday’s eliminations. “Our Matco Tools Toyota has been running exceptionally well. Q1 was a really good run, Q3 was another decent run even after losing a belt and then we ran strong again in Q4. We overpowered the track Friday night, but today was key to prepare for eliminations. I believe we have a car that can compete and race with anybody. It will be warmer tomorrow and that will throw a curveball for everybody. We’ve been putting together a car that runs pretty well in the hot weather conditions, now we just need a little luck to go our way.”
BRISTOL, TN –Doug Kalitta advanced to the Top Fuel semifinals to lead Toyota at the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway, Sunday. The race marked Kalitta’s 500th in NHRA Top Fuel competition.
Kalitta, who earned his 50th number one qualifier on Saturday, had the advantage at the tree and never trailed in an opening round win over Cameron Fere, to set up a wild second round match-up with Terry McMillen. It appeared Kalitta’s day was going to be over when he was up in smoke right at the hit, but McMillen smoked the tires around 150 feet. Kalitta pedaled it and chased McMillen down right in the lights for the win with a speed at the top end more than 100 mph faster than his opponent.
Kalitta would have a much better run in the semifinals against Mike Salinas, but wasn’t quite quick enough as eventual event winner Mike Salinas would win 3.817 to 3.887.
LANGDON SETS PERSONAL BEST WITH SECOND IN FUNNY CAR
BRISTOL, TN – Doug Kalitta captured number one qualifier honors in Top Fuel with a 3.755-second pass at 324.67 mph, while Shawn Langdon set a new personal best as the number two qualifier in Funny Car to lead Toyota in preparation for Sunday’s NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at the Bristol Dragway.
The pole is the first of the season for Kalitta and the 50th of his Top Fuel career, coming in his 500th career NHRA event.
“We are always excited to come here,” said Kalitta, who will face Cameron Ferre in the first round on Sunday. “I remember coming here when I was working on Connie’s (Kalitta, team owner) cars back in the ‘80s so it’s a lot of cool history coming here just for me. It was a nice run though. It’s been awhile since we were low qualifier any of the days. I’m real proud of my guys though. We’re working our tails off to try and make it happen.”
Rounding out the Toyota Top Fuel ranks, Antron Brown qualified fourth and will meet Audrey Worm in round one, while Richie Crampton placed ninth and will square off with Terry McMillen in eliminations.
In Funny Car, Langdon set a new personal-best of second in the category with a 3.944 at 324.51 mph. Langdon, the 2013 Top Fuel world champion, drove his Global Electronic Technology Toyota Camry to his first career Funny Car win in April at Charlotte. He’s now qualified in the top six in five of the last six races. He will race Jeff Diehl in Sunday’s first round.