Event 04: NHRA Four-Wide Nationals
The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Las Vegas, Nevada
Event 04: NHRA Four-Wide Nationals
The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Las Vegas, Nevada
Todd earns his first Las Vegas win
Race Recap: J.R. Todd scored his first Las Vegas win and 12th win of his career today at the Four Wide Nationals.
The weekend did not start the way the DHL team would have liked. After Friday's two sessions, the DHL Camry was not in the show. However, Jon Oberhofer and Todd Smith made the right adjustments and Todd moved from 17th all the way to the third starting spot with a bonus points earning 3.952 second pass in the final qualifying session. That gave Todd his best start of the season, and allowed him to be one of three drivers that have earned bonus points in all four races to start the year.
The success continued on Sunday. In the first quad, Todd was matched up with his teammate Shawn Langdon, Bob Tasca III and John Force. Todd and the DHL team were ready. Todd was stout on the tree, and the DHL Camry blazed the track in 3.959 seconds. That gave Todd the best elapsed time in the first round and gave him lane choice in the quarterfinals over Tommy Johnson Jr., Del Worsham and John Force.
In the second round quad, Tommy Johnson Jr. was able to cross the finish line first, but Todd got there second on a double holeshot. The DHL Toyota was the slowest that session, but thanks to Todd's reaction time he defeated Worsham and Force.
The holeshot victories were not finished. Todd would line up in the third lane with Courtney Force, Jack Beckman and Tommy Johnson Jr. beside him. Johnson was done at the line with a red light start, but Todd's reaction time was the best of the remaining three. That would come into play as he was able to holeshot Courtney Force to the stripe. He then outran Beckman to claim his first Four-Wide Nationals win, first Vegas win, third Funny Car win and 12th of his career.
The win moved Todd from eighth to sixth in the point standings as Kalitta Motorsports earned his third win in four races to start the 2018 season.
Qualified: No. 3 (3.952 sec., 319.67 mph)
E1: Todd defeated Tasca and Langdon - 3.952 sec., 319.67 mph to 4.044 sec., 314.97 mph and 7.119 sec., 104.82 mph
E2: Todd defeated J. Force and Worsham - 4.054 sec., 314.17 mph to 4.049 sec., 307.83 mph and 4.050 sec., 315.34 mph (double holeshot: Todd .068, J. Force .087 and Worsham .091)
Final: Todd defeated Beckman, C. Force and Johnson Jr. - 4.041 sec., 317.05 mph (reaction time .050) to 4.052 sec., 312.21 mph and 4.007 sec., 300.53 mph (reaction time .103) and foul
On becoming the third different Kalitta Motorsports driver to win in the season's first four races:
"All of our Kalitta Motorsports teams across the board have just come out swinging this year. Dougie (Kalitta) and Richie (Crampton) have wins under their belt and Shawn's (Langdon) already been to two semi-finals. We've struggled somewhat up to this part of the year. We brought out a new car at Gainesville and had an issue in the first round with the chutes coming out on the burn out."
On his improvement over the weekend after not having qualified for the field on Friday:
"We didn't really run all that well on Friday in qualifying, then Saturday we made some changes. The conditions got a little better and the track got a little bit more rubber down. We threw down in Q4 (third qualifier) and that definitely got my confidence up as a driver."
On winning on hole-shots in each of the last two rounds:
"In funny cars, you can cheat a little bit on the starting line. In dragster racing, everyone's pretty much in agreement that they aren't going to roll it in on each other, but in funny cars you can steal a few thou (thousandths of a second) on race day. I might have been able to get about five thou in the second round today, but it was enough to turn on the win light. In funny cars, you have to be on your 'A' game every time you roll up to the Christmas tree. It's a matter usually of who gets off the line first is going to turn on the win light. Before the first round, Shawn and I came up with a plan and what we were going to do - and we executed it. I think the reaction times told the story."
On his reaction after finding out he had won:
"I didn't know who won. I saw Tommy Johnson (who red-lighted) driving ahead of me and then I saw a win light over in Jack Beckman's lane and then a voice came over the radio saying hole-shot. So I just assumed we lost on a hole-shot, I didn't know until we turned the corner and they were waving me over to TV that we had actually won. I wasn't actually sure until I got out of the car and they told me that Tommy had red-lighted. That's the confusing part for a driver in the four wide, you don't really know. If it was two wide, I would have known that I won when I saw my win light."
On four-wide racing:
"I've been saying all along that I'm not really a fan of four-wide racing, but it's definitely cool to be the winner of the first four wide here in Vegas so I guess I have to like it now. If it's going to help the sport grow, then I'm all for it. As a driver, you have to focus so much more on the starting line. Before the first round, Shawn Langdon and I had a game plan on what we were going to do and we executed it and the reaction times told the story.
On how important competitive it is in Funny Car this season:
"It's going to be difficult to even qualify for certain races during the year. It was tough to make the top 10 last year, but it's going to be brutal heading into the final regular season race at Indy this year."
Does winning a big race like this mean more?
"I'm just happy to win any race. I want to win every time we show up to the track. I'm frustrated when we don't win. It's cool to win here in Vegas as a driver with Kalitta, we just hadn't taken that final step to come out of here with a trophy and today we finally did. It's nice to check this one off the list."
On starting with Kalitta Motorsports four years ago in the spring at Las Vegas:
It doesn't seem all that long ago that I was racing part-time and I wasn't even at this event, but on Friday I got the call to fly out here and take over driving this car. I got my butt-kicked on a hole-shot in the second round. I remember it like it was yesterday. A lot has happened since then. I'm driving a Funny Car now and back then i never thought I'd be in this position."
On earning the first four-wide victory for the Toyota Camry:
"I can't say enough about all the help we get from Toyota and TRD. J.P. (Jean-Philippe.Blanc) dedicating himself to checking the starting line track conditions and getting a report back to the crew chiefs every round. It takes a big load off the crew chiefs because they don't have to worry about what's going on up there, they can just focus on what's going on back at the pit and make the right decisions on the car. He's going his input on what's happening with the track as the weather changes. We also have Slugger Labbe, who's just all over making our Camry better. He's already proved himself in the drag racing world and it's only going to get better from here on out."
Point Standings: Sixth; leads Robert Hight by 12 points by seventh; trails Ron Capps by 23 points for fifth
Kalitta advances to the final
Race Recap: Doug Kalitta advanced to his second final of the season as he finished third at the Four-Wide Nationals today in Las Vegas.
Kalitta had a strong qualifying effort as the Mac Tools driver scored two bonus points on Friday. A little bumping ensued on Saturday, but Kalitta retained a top half starting spot as he began the day in the sixth starting spot.
That put Kalitta in the same quad as his teammate, Richie Crampton, Brittany Force and Terry Haddock. Doug recorded the best reaction time and would not be beat. His teammate would join him in the second round quad with Don Schumacher Racing teammates Antron Brown and Leah Pritchett.
The Mac Tools machine could not be stopped there either as the Kalitta made the only clean run of the pack to earn the second pick of lanes in the finals.
Unfortunately, Kalitta could not continue the hot streak into the win. After Kalitta watched his teammate pick up the win, the Mac Tools driver was charged up. He left first, but the Mac Tools driver had issued down track and would finish in third.
Qualified: No. 6 (3.786 sec., 320.51 mph)
E1: Kalitta defeated B. Force and Haddock - 3.819 sec., 320.89 mph to 4.690 sec., 175.52 mph and 6.914 sec., 76.49 mph
E1: Kalitta defeated Crampton and Pritchett - 3.864 sec., 320.13 mph to 4.261 sec., 261.47 mph and 5.391 sec., 149.51 mph
Final: Kalitta defeated by S. Torrence and Schumacher - 3.914 sec., 273.27 mph to 3.771 sec., 326.63 mph and 3.790 sec., 325.22 mph
Quotable: “We couldn't quite get the win today, but what a day for Kalitta Motorsports. Happy J.R. scored a win, and our performance was strong all day. We are going to test tomorrow, and the Mac Tools team is looking forward to Houston."
Point Standings: Fifth; leads Richie Crampton by 33 points for sixth; trails Clay Millican by seven points for fourth
Crampton claims Vegas round win
Race Recap: Richie Crampton followed up his Gainesville win by advancing to the Four-Wide Nationals quarterfinals in Las Vegas.
Crampton had a solid Friday qualifying effort that had the Kalitta Air Top Fuel Dragster solidly in the field. Both of the runs on Saturday yielded tire smoke, and Crampton was bumped back to the 11th starting position.
That place Crampton in a quad with his teammate Doug Kalitta, reigning Top Fuel champion Brittany Force and Terry Haddock. Crampton's tune-up was on point and the Kalitta Air machine made a clean pass to get to the finish line in second place which advanced him to the next round along with his teammate.
In the second round, Crampton faced Kalitta, along with Antron Brown and Leah Pritchett. Crampton got a huge jump at the tree and looked to be advancing, before the Kalitta Air machine dropped a cylinder down track and Brown was able to drive back around to make it to the final.
Qualified: No. 11 (3.829 sec., 313.66 mph)
E1: Crampton defeated B. Force and Haddock - 3.832 sec., 313.22 mph to 4.690 sec., 175.52 mph and 6.914 sec., 76.49 mph
E2: Crampton defeated by Kalitta and Brown - 4.261 sec., 261.47 mph to 3.864 sec., 320.13 mph and 4.050 sec., 278.58 mph
Quotable: “In all, it was a good day for our Kalitta Air Toyota dragster. We were hoping to go back-to-back, but you can’t win them all. We had a decent run in the first round and just fell a little short in round two. That’s how it goes when the weather is like this, it’s a hot race track. I think we’ve got what it takes to continue on an upward swing. I’m looking forward to Houston.”
Point Standings: Sixth; leads Leah Pritchett by 13 points for seventh; trails Doug Kalitta by 33 points for fifth
Langdon falls in the first round
Race Recap: Shawn Langdon and the Global Electronic Technology team hit near immediate tire smoke and lost in the first round of the Four-Wide Nationals in Las Vegas today.
The Global Electronic Technology Camry was consistent in qualifying but it did not produce the top end elapsed time that the team was looking for as Langdon recorded three runs right above 4.0 seconds. In the competitive Funny Car field, that was only good enough for the 14th starting spot.
That gave Langdon the final lane choice in his quad with his teammate J.R. Todd, Bob Tasca III and John Force. Langdon was set with lane four, but John Force asked to switch lanes right before the run began as the higher qualified car. Langdon was moved to lane one, and recorded the class-best reaction time for the round, but with conditions different in that lane, the Global Electronic Technology Camry hit tire smoke shortly after and was defeated.
Qualified: No. 14 (4.040 sec., 302.28 mph)
E1: Langdon defeated by Todd and J. Force - 7.119 sec., 104.82 mph to 3.959 sec., 318.99 mph and 4.015 sec., 316.75 mph
Quotable: “We felt like we had a good shot here, but it wasn't our day. Tough thing about the Four-Wide, when teams make last minute lane changes; we were not prepared for lane one and it did not have the grip on the starting line that lane four did. Had we known we were going to run lane one, we could have made some changes to it. That is part of four-wide racing. We are going to try some things in testing tomorrow and take this Global Electronic Technology Toyota to Houston and make progress there."
Point Standings: Eighth; leads Jonnie Lindberg by 34 points for ninth; trails Robert Hight by 17 points for seventh
Photos are courtesy of Gary Nastase Photography.