Kalitta Motorsports News

JR Todd Champion

Todd caps off championship season with victory at NHRA Finals

Race Recap: The unstoppable postseason dominance of J.R. Todd and the DHL/WIX Filters team continued with their sixth final round appearance in the past seven events and fourth in a row. Much like their most recent attempt in Las Vegas, the DHL/WIX team was once again able to guide their Toyota Camry to the winner's circle in Pomona.

It wasn't Todd's event win that clinched his championship, as his first Funny Car title was decided when Robert Hight was eliminated in the first round. Todd became the first African-American Funny Car world champion in NHRA history, but his day of dominance had just begun.

After struggling through his first two qualifying runs on Friday, Todd got dialed in on Saturday and used a 3.987 at 327.82 to vault into the No. 4 qualifying spot in the last qualifying run of the weekend.

In round one of eliminations, Todd matched up against Jim Campbell, and despite already being crowned the champion, he used a 3.938 at 315.64 to earn the victory. His day wasn't done there, though, as he knew he wanted to close out the year with another victory.

After the first round win, Bob Tasca lined up against Todd in the quarterfinals. The DHL/WIX Camry was again up to the task, powering to a 3.952 at 321.50 as Tasca put up a nice side-by-side, but is 3.962 at 323.12 wasn't enough to emerge victorious.

In the semifinals, Todd paired up with No. 1 qualifier Ron Capps, and the two had one of the closest side-by-side runs of the day with Todd again turning on the win lights with a 3.889 at 328.14 to a 3.932 at 316.97.

In his fourth consecutive final round and eighth of the year, Todd emerged victorious over Tommy Johnson Jr. for his career-best sixth victory of the 2019 season.

Todd's dominant season saw him participate in 23 of 24 possible rounds in the NHRA Countdown to the Championship, as his dominant stretch will go down in NHRA history books as a memorable title run.

Qualified: No. 4 (3.897 sec., 327.82 mph) 

E1: Todd defeated Campbell - 3.938 sec., 315.64 mph to 9.664 at 74.83 mph

E2: Todd defeated Tasca - 3.952 sec., 321.50 mph to 3.962 at 323.12 mph

E3: Todd defeated Capps - 3.889 sec., 328.14 mph to 3.932 sec., 316.97 mph

E4: Todd defeated Johnson Jr. - 3.872 sec., 329.10 mph to 3.889 at 327.50 mph

Quotable: "The DHL Toyota guys are great at what they do. Todd Smith and Jon Oberhofer really have a handle on the tune-up, they were almost calling their shots today. When we ran the .889 in the semis, they were shooting for a .90, so they overachieved a little there. In the finals, I had it way out of the groove, driving like an idiot, and I thought for sure I was going to smoke the tires. Then the win light came on and I thought to myself, you've got to be kidding me and saw that we ran a .87. That was a big-time run. They just have a really good handle on the car and keep racing smart, and they do a great job preparing our Camry. They definitely stayed focused with a lot of distractions around our pit area."
Point Standings: First; won points battle over Robert Hight by 194 points.

Shawn Langdon Sun

Langdon drops second round matchup against Capps

Race Recap: After a second consecutive event weekend of consistent qualifying from the Global Electronic Technology team, Shawn Langdon and his tea were able to build off that success in the first round of the NHRA Finals.

After a stout 3.950 at 320.97 put him into the field, Langdon and the team put together another strong run in the first round to reach the quarterfinal round for the second consecutive event.

In round one, Langdon matched up against Matt Hagan. The Global Electronic Technology machine used a 3.918 at 326.71 to take down Hagan and continue his solid weekend in Pomona.

In the quarterfinals, Langdon faced off against No. 1 qualifier Ron Capps and again put up a solid pass at 3.967 at 322.81, but it wasn't enough to better Capps at 3.921 at 323.04.

Langdon wrapped up his rookie season in Funny Car with consecutive second-round appearances, as he will aim to keep that momentum building into 2019.

Qualified: No. 10 (3.965 sec., 319.67 mph) 

E1: Langdon defeated Hagan - 3.918 sec., 326.71 mph to 4.115 sec., 255.19 mph

E2: Langdon defeated by Capps - 5.134 sec., 145.96 mph to 3.921 sec., 323.04 mph

Quotable: "The Global Electronic Technology Toyota guys have done an excellent job all season long, and we started to show some improvements here at the end of the season. We feel like we have laid the foundation to have a strong year in 2019."

Point Standings: Tenth; finishes behind John Force by 71 points for ninth.

Richie Crampton Sun

Crampton falls against Billy Torrence in first round of NHRA Finals

Race Recap: Despite some continued consistency from Richie Crampton and the CRAFTSMAN team, they were not able to build on their recent momentum at the NHRA Finals.

Qualifying concluded with Crampton 10th in the qualifying order, but his 3.743 at 325.22 was not quite enough to take down Billy Torrence in round one of Sunday's eliminations. In the matchup, Crampton put together his fourth consecutive pass of the weekend below the 3.750 mark, showing improved consistency to close out the season.

After his semifinal appearance in Las Vegas, Crampton concludes his 2018 campaign 11th in the standings as he will hope that the team's momentum carries over into 2019.

Qualified: No. 10 (3.726 sec., 325.22 mph) 

E1: Crampton defeated by B. Torrence - 3.743 sec., 325.22 mph to 3.706 sec., 327.27 mph

Quotable: "We were definitely disappointed to not get a few more round wins like we did in Las Vegas, but this CRAFTSMAN team is happy with how we finished up the season. We know that we've got a car that can compete in the Countdown next season, and that is going to be our goal once we start off the new year."

Doug Kalitta Sun

Kalitta unable to sweep Pomona after first-round exit

Race Recap: After an up-and-down qualifying weekend for Doug Kalitta and the MAC Tools team, eliminations did not prove much friendlier to the Kalitta team despite a strong run.

Kalitta entered Sunday eleventh in the qualifying order after two strong runs and two difficult ones, and the MAC Tools group put together a stout 3.727 at 325.85, which was amongst the quickest of the session. Unfortunately for Kalitta, he was matched up with Antron Brown, who rode to victory on the strength of a 3.720 at 331.12.

Kalitta was unable to close out the year the same way he started it, as he finishes the year with just one victory, at the season-opening event in Pomona.

Qualified: No. 11 (3.740 sec., 319.29 mph)

E1: Kalitta defeated by Brown - 3.727 sec., 325.85 mph to 3.720 sec., 331.12 mph

Quotable: "This was certainly not the way we hoped to end the season, but we put up some strong runs which is all you can ask for. If we have this same consistency next season, this MAC Tools bunch feels like they can be a factor in the Countdown."

Point Standings: Eighth; Finishes tied for seventh with Mike Salinas, but loses tiebreaker due to Countdown head-to-head.

JR Todd Sat

POMONA, Calif. (November 11, 2018) – J.R. Todd, driver of the DHL Toyota Camry for Kalitta Motorsports, captured his first career Funny Car world championship at Auto Club Raceway earlier this afternoon to become the first African-American Funny Car champion in NHRA history.

Todd entered the final race of the 2018 NHRA season in Pomona, California with a 74-point lead in the standings over the defending world champion, Robert Hight.

Todd officially clinched the championship when Hight was defeated in the first round of eliminations in Pomona, ensuring his points lead could no longer be overcome.

"This is what you live your whole life for when you start racing Junior Dragsters at ten years old. You hope that you can get to this point in your life and your career, but you never really think it is going to happen. There were definitely some tough times when I got my start with Top Fuel, and I didn't know that I would ever be back at this point. I have so many people to think, especially the Kalitta group as a whole, they have your back no matter what. We are going to go try and win a race and have two trophies at the end of the weekend."
This is only the second year in a Funny Car for Todd, as he drove in the Top Fuel class for nine seasons where he racked up nine wins. Todd's championship in his second season in the class marks the quickest championship run for a Funny Car competitor since Cruz Pedregon won the class title in 1992, his rookie season as a Funny Car pilot.
"On behalf of our entire DHL family, we are so proud of J.R. Todd and this Kalitta Motorsports Funny Car team," said Reg Kenney, President of Global Engineering & Manufacturing for DHL. "They are true champions, and fought hard all year long to deliver this superb victory in the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Championship. What a great team!"

In order to position himself as the points leader heading into the NHRA Finals, Todd had reached the final round in five of the previous six events, including four of the five NHRA Countdown to the Championship events. Todd entered Pomona with two wins, two runner-up finishes and one semifinal appearance in the first five playoff events.

"Toyota could not be more proud of J.R. Todd and the entire Kalitta Motorsports team," said Laura Pierce, general manager of Toyota Motorsports." J.R. has been the most dominant driver throughout the playoffs and has truly earned the title of world champion. And, we'd also like to thank the dedicated team at TRD, who has played an integral role in designing this Camry Funny Car and for the engineering support they provide at every race."

With five wins on the season, Todd entered the final race of the year with seven career Funny Car victories and 16 in total.

Todd remains in contention for his sixth win of 2018 at the NHRA Finals, as he will match up with Bob Tasca in the quarterfinals.
This marks the seventh world championship for Kalitta Motorsports, and first since Del Worsham drove the DHL Funny Car into the winner's circle in 2015.

Doug Kalitta Sat

Doug Kalitta, driver of the Mac Tools Top Fuel Dragster

Q1: 5.352 sec. at 125.33 MPH
Q2: 3.740 sec. at 319.29 MPH
Q3: 5.785 sec. at 111.51 MPH
Q43.743 sec. at 316.01 MPH

Starting Position: 11th
First Round Matchup: Antron Brown
Quotable: "This has been a bit of an up and down weekend for the MAC Tools team, but we feel like we have a good handle on the track heading into race day. Our goal is to end the season like we started it -- with a win in Pomona."

Richie Crampton Sat

Richie Crampton, driver of the CRAFTSMAN Top Fuel Dragster

Q1: 4.908 sec. at 146.05 MPH
Q2: 3.756 sec. at 319.52 MPH
Q3: 3.754 sec. at 323.89 MPH
Q43.726 sec. at 325.22 MPH

Starting Position: 10th
First Round Matchup: Billy Torrence
"This CRAFTSMAN team has been working so hard to figure some things out throughout the year, and we feel very confident in this car for the final race of the year. We want to finish off the season strong and build some momentum for 2019."

Shawn Langdon Sat

Shawn Langdon, driver of the Global Electronic Technology Toyota Camry Funny Car

Q1: 4.018 sec. at 319.52 MPH
Q2: 3.950 sec. at 320.97 MPH
Q3: 3.975 sec. at 320.20 MPH
Q45.242 sec. at 141.79 MPH

Bonus Points: 2 pts. (Third-best of the first session)
Starting Position: 9th
First Round Matchup: Matt Hagan
Quotable: "This Global Electronic Technology team has put together a few strong runs throughout the weekend, and we're going to need a few more tomorrow to keep building on that momentum. We're looking forward to finishing off the season with a strong performance in Pomona."

JR Todd Sat

J.R. Todd, driver of the DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car

Q1: 4.254 sec. at 219.12 MPH
Q2: 4.220 sec. at 310.13 MPH
Q3: 3.959 sec. at 321.04 MPH
Q43.897 sec. at 327.82 MPH

Bonus Points: 1 pt. (Fourth-best of the fourth session)
Starting Position: 4th
First Round Matchup: 
Jim Campbell
Quotable: "We were able to have a few good passes on Saturday, and that gives us some really good momentum going into tomorrow. It's going to be another tough day of racing, but this DHL team just needs to keep making strong, consistent runs and turning on some win lights.


Kalitta hoping for Pomona sweep to close out the year

Pomona Highlights: Three wins (2009-I, 2016-II, 2018-I); Seven runner-up finishes (1999-II, 2004-I, 2010-I, 2013-II, 2014-I, 2016-I, 2017-I); Six No.1 qualifiers (2001-I, 2003-I, 2004-I, 2004-II, 2006-II, 2014-I)

Last Event Recap (NHRA Toyota Nationals): Qualified sixth; First round loss (Lost to Richie Crampton in the first round)

2017 NHRA Finals Recap: Qualified seventh; Semifinalist (Defeated Wayne Newby in the first round, defeated Clay Millican in the quarterfinals, lost to Shawn Langdon in the semifinals)

Quotable: “We started off the year with a win in Pomona, and I can't think of a better way to close out the season than another win here. It's a track we feel very comfortable competing at, and a strong showing here would be a great way to kick off next season.”

Career Stats: 480 starts; 652 round wins (ninth all-time); 44 wins (Fifth all-time in Top Fuel); 96 finals; 49 no.1 qualifiers (tied 14th all-time)

2018 Season: One Win (Pomona-I); Five finals (Pomona I, Charlotte I, Richmond, Denver, Indianapolis); 29 round wins; Tied for seventh in the standings


Crampton looking to end 2018 season with second victory of the year

Pomona Highlights: One No. 1 qualifier (2014-II)

Last Event Recap (NHRA Toyota Nationals): Qualified 11th; Semifinalist (Defeated Doug Kalitta in the first round, Brittany Force in the quarterfinals, lost to Steve Torrence in the semifinals)

2017 NHRA Finals Recap: Qualified 8th, Quarterfinalist (Defeated Terry McMillen in the first round, lost to Brittany Force in the quarterfinals)

Quotable: “This race will be a big test for this Craftsman team to close out the year on a strong note, we really want to build up some momentum heading into the offseason."

Career Stats: 102 starts; 88 round wins; Eight wins; 10 finals; Five no.1 qualifiers

2018 Season: One win (Gainesville); 13 round wins; 11th in the standings


Langdon sets sights on win at hometown Pomona track

Pomona Highlights:  Three wins (2013-I, II, 2015-I);  Three runner-up finishes (2010-II, 2011-I, 2017-II); Two No. 1 qualifiers (2012-I, 2015-II - Top Fuel)

Last Event Recap (NHRA Toyota Nationals): Qualified 10th; Quarterfinalist (Defeated Robert Hight in the first round, lost to J.R. Todd int he quarterfinals)

2017 NHRA Finals Recap: Qualified 11th; Runner-Up (Defeated Tony Schumacher in the first round, Leah Pritchett in the quarterfinals, Doug Kalitta in the semifinals, lost to Brittany Force in the finals)

Quotable: "Winning this last race of the year would provide a big boost for this group. We've worked hard all season long and I would love nothing more than to get a win for everyone on the Global Electronic Technology team.”

Career Stats: 229 starts; 262 round wins; 14 wins; 30 finals; 18 no.1 qualifiers (Funny Car stats: 23 starts; 15 round wins)

2018 Season: 23 starts; 15 round wins; Tenth in the standings


Todd takes aim at Funny Car championship to close out breakout 2018 campaign

Pomona Highlights:  One win (2007-I -Top Fuel); One runner-up finish (2016-II-Top Fuel); One No. 1 qualifier (2016-II-Top Fuel)

Last Event Recap (NHRA Toyota Nationals): Qualified second; Event Winner (Defeated Richard Townsend in the first round, Shawn Langdon in the quarterfinals, Jack Beckman in the semifinals, Matt Hagan in the finals)

2017 NHRA Finals Recap: Qualified ninth; First round loss (Lost to John Force in the first round)

Quotable: “We just need to keep making consistent runs. Step one is getting qualified in Pomona and try to put this DHL/Wix Filters Camry in the top half of the field. Then we will take it one round at a time from there."

Career Stats: 195 starts; 207 round wins; 16 wins; 28 finals; 10 no.1 qualifiers (Funny Car stats: 47 starts; Seven wins (2017: Sonoma, Indianapolis, 2018: Las Vegas-I, Houston, Indianapolis, Reading, Las Vegas-II); Nine finals (2017: Charlotte-I, Sonoma, Indianapolis, 2018: Las Vegas-I, Houston, Indianapolis, Reading, Dallas, Charlotte-II, Las Vegas-II); 58 round wins)

2018 Season: Five wins (Las Vegas-I, Houston, Indianapolis, Reading, Las Vegas-II); 40 round wins; First in the point standings 

JR Todd Wins Vegas

Todd takes over Funny Car points lead with fifth win of season

Race Recap: The incredible postseason run of J.R. Todd and the DHL/WIX Filters team persisted with their fifth final round appearance in the past six events and third in a row. Unlike the previous two events that resulted in runner-up finishes for Todd, the DHL/WIX team was able to guide their Toyota Camry to the winner's circle in Las Vegas.

Todd struggled through his first two qualifying runs on Friday, ending up 16th after one day. He vaulted up to the No. 2 qualifying spot on Saturday with a 3.911-second pass at 329.19 mph.

In round one of eliminations, Todd matched up against Richard Townsend and used a 3.935 at 321.27 to earn the victory as Townsend ran into early tire smoke and coasted to a finish.

After knocking off Robert Hight in the first round, Shawn Langdon awaited Todd in the quarterfinals. The DHL/WIX Camry was again up to the task, powering to a 3.957 at 320.36 as Langdon also ran into trouble and coasted across the finish line. 

In the semifinals, Todd was paired up with Jack Beckman, and the two had one of the closest side-by-side runs of the day with Todd again turning on the win lights with a 3.906 at 327.11 to a 3.937 at 327.09.

In his third consecutive final round and seventh of the season, Todd emerged victorious over Matt Hagan for his fifth win of the 2019 season.

With the win, Todd now has a 74-point lead in the Funny Car standings heading into the NHRA Finals in Pomona, as he will look to secure his first world championship at the season-closing event.

Qualified: No. 2 (3.911 sec., 327.19 mph) 

E1: Todd defeated Townsend - 3.935 sec., 321.27 mph to 6.782 at 98.32 mph

E2: Todd defeated Langdon - 3.957 sec., 320.36 mph to 5.134 at 145.96 mph

E3: Todd defeated Beckman - 3.906 sec., 327.11 mph to 3.937 sec., 327.90 mph

E4: Todd defeated Hagan - 3.921 sec., 318.39 mph to 4.087 at 263.62 mph

Quotable: "We qualified 16th on Friday and then we were bumped from the field before we ran in Q3 on Saturday. We were really aggressive in Q3 and ran a 3.91 and ended up second. That just goes to show how hard these DHL Toyota guys work. We had some issues on Friday and they stayled late and changed the entire fuel system. We came out and made two really good runs on Saturday. Then today, we were pretty much flawless. It's so awesome to drive a car like that when it's so consistent that you don't have to worry if you have to go out and pedal it. You just go up there and smack the tree as hard as you can and get after it. It's a lot of fun to drive, but we still have some unfinished business in Pomona. Hopefully, we can go out there and win two trophies."
Point Standings: First; leads Robert Hight by 74 points for second.

Richie Crampton Vegas

Crampton reaches semifinals at Toyota Nationals

Race Recap: After some struggles and inconsistency throughout qualifying, Crampton and the CRAFTSMAN team entered race day at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway looking for improved success on the track.

Qualifying concluded with Crampton sitting in the No. 11 qualifying spot, and his 3.797 at 314.02 was enough to take down his teammate Doug Kalitta in round one of Sunday's eliminations. In the matchup with Kalitta, Crampton was unable to leave first with his .071 light, but was able to cruise past Kalitta who hit some tire smoke and slowed to the finish.

During the quarterfinals, Crampton matched up against defending world champion Brittany Force, and used a 4.232 at 242.23 to reach his third semifinal round of the season. 

Steve Torrence awaited Crampton in the semifinals, and for the first time all day Crampton and the CRAFTSMAN team were unable to put together a clean run. Torrence was first off the tree and put together a stout run, as Crampton hazed the tires and coasted to a 4.233 at 223.54 to end his day at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Qualified: No. 11 (3.799 sec., 318.39 mph) 

E1: Crampton defeated Kalitta - 3.797 sec., 314.02 mph to 4.219 sec., 216.06 mph

E2: Crampton defeated B. Force - 3.766 sec., 321.96 mph to 4.232 sec., 242.23 mph

E3: Crampton defeated by S. Torrence - 4.233 sec., 223.54 mph to 3.724 sec., 330.15 mph

Quotable: "Overall, it was a good weekend. This is a big race for us at the Toyota Nationals and we've been wanting to do well before the year is out for both CRAFTSMAN and Toyota. Going a couple of rounds felt good. Connie and the team did a great job. Coming up short against the now world champion still kind of stinks, but at the end of the day he won the championship for a reason. I'm looking forward to Pomona."

Shawn Langdon Vegas

Langdon drops second round matchup against teammate Todd

Race Recap: After a consistent weekend of qualifying from the Global Electronic Technology team, Shawn Langdon and crew were able to continue that success in his first round matchup of eliminations at the NHRA Toyota Nationals.

After three out of four qualifying runs under four seconds, Langdon and the team put together their best run of the weekend in their most important run of the Countdown to the Championship.

In round one, Langdon matched up against Robert Hight, who entered competition as the Funny Car points leader. Although Langdon was not able to get off the tree first, the Global Electronic Technology machine used a 3.922 at 325.85 to take down Hight and allow for J.R. Todd to take over the points lead in the class.

In the quarterfinals, Langdon faced off against his teammate Todd, and ran into tire smoke around half-track as Todd turned on the win light.

With one race remaining on the season, the 2013 Top Fuel champion will hope to close out 2018 with his first career Funny Car win.

Qualified: No. 10 (3.965 sec., 319.67 mph) 

E1: Langdon defeated Hight - 3.922 sec., 325.85 mph to 4.643 sec., 186.41 mph

E2: Langdon defeated by Todd - 5.134 sec., 145.96 mph to 3.957 sec., 320.36 mph

Quotable: "The Global Electronics Technology Toyota guys did a great job on that first run against Robert (Hight). That's what we were looking for all weekend. That was the run we were shooting for in qualifying with a 3.92, but we weren't able to get it. We just had a few little things that we needed to work through. The guys just did an excellent job. Unfortunately, we've slid out of the championship, so at this point we just wanted to step up and help J.R. in the championship by beating Robert. Those are the moments why I love racing in the Countdown with this playoff scenario. Those are the moments when you feel your heart is going to beat through your chest."

Point Standings: Tenth; trails John Force by 73 points for ninth.

Doug Kalitta Vegas 

Kalitta knocked out by teammate Crampton in first round at Las Vegas

Race Recap: The four qualifying passes from the MAC Tools team were not as consistent as Doug Kalitta would have liked on Friday and Saturday, and those troubles continued into race day at the Toyota Nationals.

Kalitta entered Sunday sixth in the qualifying order, but the MAC Tools group ran into early tire smoke and finished with a 4.219 at 216.06 to fall against his teammate, Richie Crampton, in the first round of eliminations.

With only one race remaining on the season, Kalitta is hoping to go two-for-two in Pomona by securing his second win of the season at the site of his lone win in 2018, Auto Club Speedway.

Qualified: No. 6 (3.742 sec., 326.00 mph)

E1: Kalitta defeated by Crampton - 4.219 sec., 216.06 mph to 3.797 sec., 314.02 mph

Quotable: “This was a tricky weekend for this Mac Tools team, and we had hoped for more success in Las Vegas. With only one race left in the season, we are going to head to Pomona looking to close out the year with a win."

Point Standings: Tied-Seventh; leads Terry McMillen by six points for ninth; trails Antron Brown by 32 points for sixth

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Mello Yello Championship Points

Top Fuel (Unofficial)

1. Steve Torrence (2718)
2. Clay Millican (2487)
3. Tony Schumacher (2454)
4. Leah Pritchett (2394)
5. Brittany Force (2302)
6. Antron Brown (2291)
7t. Mike Salinas (2259)
7t. Doug Kalitta (2259)
9. Terry McMillen (2221)
10. Scott Palmer (2182)

Funny Car (Unofficial)

1. J.R. Todd (2553)
2. Robert Hight (2479)
3. Ron Capps (2388)
4. Tim Wilkerson (2367)
5. Tommy Johnson Jr. (2362)
6. Courtney Force (2324)
7. Matt Hagan (2321)
8. Jack Beckman (2283)
9. John Force (2277)
10. Shawn Langdon (2204)