J.R. Todd was the No. 6 qualifier at the NHRA season-opening Amalie Motor Oil Gatornationals. Todd needed just 3.900 seconds to reach the finish line at 329.99 mph in the weekend’s first round of qualifying Friday afternoon. In Saturday’s third and final qualifying session, the DHL Toyota Supra got too far inside and hit a timing block ending what appeared to be a stellar final qualifying attempt. Inclement weather caused cancelation of Friday’s second qualifying round.
Eliminations: Todd and the DHL Toyota team had an excellent day reaching the final round of eliminations for the first time since Seattle last summer. Todd defeated Blake Alexander, Robert Hight and Chad Green before losing to Matt Hagan in the final. Todd was ahead for most of the final run, but the DHL Funny Car spun the tires causing the engine to backfire allowing Hagan to surge ahead and win the race.
When Todd advanced to the semifinals, he earned a spot in the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge at the next race in Phoenix. During Saturday’s qualifying sessions in Phoenix, the drivers who reached the semifinals in Gainesville will re-run the semifinals and final earning additional purse and bonus points.
Unofficial Point Standings: Todd leaves Gainesville in second place in the NHRA Funny Car point standings. He trails points leader Matt Hagan by 24 points and leads third-place Chad Green by 17 points.
Todd on Gainesville: “The DHL Toyota was running really well, and I thought it was our day. We had some misfortune in the last qualifying run hitting the cones that caused another late night and early morning for the DHL team; the guys were here really early this morning to get the car ready to race. It looked like things were kind of breaking in our favor with the problems Robert (John Force Racing driver Robert Hight) had in the second round, but we had our own issues with the first two runs not making it to the finish line fully under power.
“We got that straightened out in the semifinals, and I thought we were looking good in the final until it spun the tires and went ‘bang.’ That’s probably one of the bigger ones I’ve had. I’ve never had one that tried to launch the body off the car. We have a whole new combination this year. In years past, we could get away with it spinning the tires and not lifting but not this year – in the final round, if you don’t see the guy, you’re not gonna give up. We’ll put that one in the memory bank – we can’t do that.
“We definitely take a lot of positives from this weekend – last year, we only went to one final round in Seattle, and that was a season we’d like to forget. It’s refreshing – new car, new parts and pieces, and we ran really well in testing. We didn’t show our full potential this weekend, but we made some good qualifying runs, qualified sixth and went to the final round in the first race of the year. It would have been nice to get a win, but we got some good points and are locked into the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA challenge which is cool and comes with some added bonus money which we really need now with all the body work we have to do.”
Doug Kalitta was the No. 3 qualifier at the season-opening NHRA Amalie Motor Oil Gatornationals. Kalitta’s best of the three qualifying attempts was a 3.723-second effort at 327.82 mph. Inclement weather caused cancelation of Friday’s second qualifying round.
Pep Boys All-Star Callout: During Saturday’s qualifying sessions, Kalitta competed in the Pep Boys All-Star Callout. Opening pairings were determined Friday when the four higher-seeded drivers “called out” their opponents. After the first round during Saturday’s first qualifying round, the driver with the lowest elapsed time of the four remaining drivers “called out” his or her semifinal opponent with the two remaining drivers racing for the title and its $80,000 prize in a special pairing late Saturday afternoon. Kalitta defeated Steve Torrence in the first round of the Pep Boys All-Star Callout but lost to Mike Salinas in the semifinals.
Eliminations: Kalitta defeated Spencer Massey and Antron Brown before losing to Steve Torrence in the semifinals. It was Kalitta’s first semifinal appearance since St. Louis during last year’s Countdown to the Championship NHRA Playoffs. In the first round of eliminations against Massey, the Mac Tools dragster needed just 3.646 seconds to reach the finish line at 333.82 mph. That elapsed time is Kalitta’s career best and now the Gainesville Raceway track record.
When Kalitta advanced to the semifinals, he earned a spot in the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge at the next race in Phoenix. During Saturday’s qualifying sessions, the drivers who reached the semifinals in Gainesville will re-run the semifinals and finals earning additional purse and bonus points.
Unofficial Point Standings: Kalitta leaves Gainesville in third place in the NHRA Top Fuel point standings. He trails second-place Steve Torrence by 20 points and leads fourth-place Leah Pruett by two points.
Kalitta on Gainesville: “Going through the day, it kinda of seemed like the Mac Tools team was in its groove, but obviously smoking the tires in the third round was not what we were looking for. It was just one of those deals. We know what was going on with it. The Mac Tools team is super excited about the progress we’ve made; we just need to get one more round further and give ourselves a shot to win one of these things. We are happy with the car’s performance.”
Shawn Langdon was the No. 11 qualifier at the season-opening NHRA Amalie Motor Oil Gatornationals. During the first of two Saturday qualifying rounds, Langdon reached the finish line in 3.776 secs. at 326.16 mph. Inclement weather caused cancelation of Friday’s second qualifying round.
Eliminations: Langdon raced three-time NHRA Top Fuel champion Antron Brown in the first round. The two drivers had nearly identical reaction times and nearly identical elapsed times, but Brown reached the finish line first. His margin of victory was .0002 seconds – or two 10 thousandths of a second.
Unofficial Point Standings: Langdon leaves Gainesville tied with for 11th place in the NHRA Top Fuel point standings. He trails 10th place Josh Hart by one point and ninth-place Clay Millican by two points.
Langdon on Gainesville: “The CMR team made some great runs this weekend. I’m really proud of the awesome job the team did to get ready for this race and during race weekend. We made a really strong run in the first round, but it just wasn’t quite good enough. It’s tough to lose by two ten thousandths of a second, but that shows we were right there. We didn’t win the race, but this CMR team made some really good progress, and I know our team is headed for a great season. I’m really looking forward to what’s ahead.”
Kalitta Motorsports PR