Doug Kalitta and CMR Racing for Second Maple Grove Title and Strong Countdown Start
Doug Kalitta will open the first 2022 NHRA Countdown race at Maple Grove Raceway this weekend wheeling a new look CMR Construction and Roofing Top Fuel dragster and looking to make a move up the recalibrated point standings in pursuit of his first Top Fuel world championship. Kalitta sits ninth, just 90 points off the lead. The 2019 Reading Nationals runner-up and 2022 winner knows that a strong start in the first of six playoff races will position his CMR team in great shape as the playoffs unfold with three races in a row. The quick and fast track at Maple Grove Raceway should give the perennial championship contender a great opportunity to pick up qualifying bonus points Friday and Saturday and round wins on Sunday.
Two weeks ago, Kalitta raced to the semifinals at the biggest drag race of the season, the historic U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis. The momentum from that strong finish has the 49-time Top Fuel winner looking for even more success this weekend. His crew chief tandem of Alan Johnson and Brian Husen have been working all season for a strong run in the playoffs.
“We had a good race in Indy and I feel really good coming into Reading,” said Kalitta. “Alan and Brian have been working on a few things and I think in these good conditions we will have a great race car. I am excited to be racing the CMR Construction and Roofing Top Fuel dragster this weekend. The last time they were on a Kalitta Motorsports dragster my teammate Shawn Langdon raced to the finals in Bristol.”
Kalitta has put up strong qualifying performances throughout the season qualifying No. 1 at the NHRA Arizona Nationals, his 51st career No. 1 qualifier and starting an additional five races from No. 4 or higher. The veteran driver has parlayed those quick runs into six quarterfinals and two semifinals throughout the regular season. The new point structure for the Countdown has Kalitta just over four rounds behind the points leader so strong runs on Friday and Saturday can help the driver from Ypsilanti, Michigan, close the gap. In 2004 Kalitta was the No. 1 qualifier at the Reading Nationals, so he has some experience starting from the top at Maple Grove Raceway.
“We have six races in the playoffs and everyone has a shot at the championship in the Countdown,” said Kalitta. “I am confident in Alan and Brian as well as this whole CMR team. This will be an exciting weekend for sure.”
2021 Reading Nationals Highlights: Qual. No. 9, Lost to Justin Ashley
Last Event Recap 2022 U.S. Nationals: Qual. 12; Beat Clay Millican, Mike Salinas; Lost to Brittany Force
Career Stats: 560 events, 553 starts, 734 round wins, 49 wins, 107 finals, 51 No. 1 qualifiers
Winternationals: Qual. 5; Lost to Tony Schumacher
Arizona Nationals: Qual. 1; Lost to Rob Passey
Gatornationals: Qual 5; Beat Alex Laughlin; Lost to Mike Salinas
Las Vegas1: Qual 6; Lost to Leah Pruett and Shawn Langdon
Houston: Qual 3; Lost to Billy Torrence
Charlotte1: Qual 4; Beat Alex Laughlin, Doug Foley; Lost to Mike Salinas, Cameron Ferre
Richmond: Qual 6; Beat Leah Pruett; Lost to Austin Prock
Epping: Qual 4; Beat Cameron Ferre; Lost to Shawn Langdon
Bristol: Qual 12; Lost to Brittany Force
Norwalk: Qual. No. 6; Beat Antron Brown; Lost to Mike Salinas
Denver: Qual. No. 8; Lost to Josh Hart
Sonoma: Qual. 2; Beat Ron August, Josh Hart; Lost to Mike Salinas
Seattle: Qual. 4; Beat Alex Laughlin; Lost to Leah Pruett
Topeka: Qual. 5; Lost to Tony Schumacher
Brainerd: Qual. 10; Lost to Tony Schumacher
Indianapolis: Qual. 12; Beat Clay Millican, Mike Salinas; Lost to Brittany Force
Shawn Langdon and DHL Top Fuel Ready to Make Noise as Countdown Begins
Shawn Langdon and the DHL Toyota Top Fuel team have been making positive strides throughout the back half of the 2022 NHRA regular season to position themselves for a strong run in the Countdown. With just six races left in the season the 2013 Top Fuel world champion is eager to grab his second championship starting with a strong event at Maple Grove Raceway. Langdon secured two runner-ups, a semifinal and three quarterfinal finishes over the final eight races of the regular season. His race day performances have highlighted his skill behind the wheel and on the starting line as he has won several rounds on Sunday as the lower seeded car. Recognized as one of the best drivers off the starting line Langdon will have the advantage of experience and confidence during the Countdown.
“The season has come down to six races now,” said Langdon. “We start with three races in a row and if you can get off to a good start then anything can happen. You want to be in contention going into the last race of the season and we have a team that can make a run for the championship.”
Langdon’s crew chief line-up of drag racing legend Connie Kalitta, Kurt Elliott and Jason McCulloch is one of the toughest and smartest collections of talent in the sport. Throughout the season they have given Langdon a race car that is quick and fast and the veteran driver, who also excels in the sportsman ranks, that can win races. Langdon won the Reading Nationals in 2013 on the way to his first Top Fuel world championship.
Since the beginning of the Western Swing in mid-July Langdon has only not advanced out of the first round on one occasion over a six-race span. That consistency will aid the DHL Top Fuel team as they look to win the first race of the playoffs this weekend.
Qualifying for the Reading Nationals will begin on Friday night with one session followed by two more rounds of qualifying on Saturday. Final eliminations will begin at 10:30 a.m. ET on Sunday with the 16 quickest Top Fuel dragsters racing for the trophy and a strong start in the Countdown. The race will be broadcast nationally on FOX.
2021 Reading Nationals Highlights: Qual. No. 11; Beat Mike Salinas; Lost to Billy Torrence
Last Event Recap 2022 U.S. Nationals: Qual. 15; Lost to Justin Ashley
Career Stats: 303 events, 299 starts, 326 round wins, 17 wins, 37 finals, 19 No. 1 qualifiers; in Top Fuel: 255 events, 251 starts, 15 wins, 34 finals, 287 round wins, 19 No. 1 qualifiers
Winternationals: Qual 8; Lost to Josh Hart
Arizona Nationals: Qual 7; Beat Antron Brown; Lost to Mike Salinas
Gatornationals: Qual 21; DNQ
Las Vegas1: Qual 11; Beat Doug Kalitta and Rob Passey; Lost to Steve Torrence and Brittany Force
Houston: Qual 10; Beat Leah Pruett; Lost to Brittany Force
Charlotte1: Qual 14; Lost to Clay Millican, Josh Hart
Richmond: Qual 12; Beat Doug Foley; Lost to Brittany Force
Epping: Qual. No. 12; Beat Josh Hart, Doug Kalitta; Lost to Justin Ashley
Bristol: RUNNER-UP; Qual. No. 9; Beat Spencer Massey, Mike Salinas, Antron Brown; Lost to Justin Ashley
Norwalk: Qual. No. 9; Lost to Tripp Tatum
Denver: RUNNER-UP; Qual. No. 12; Beat Greg Carrillo, Mike Salinas, Josh Hart; Lost to Leah Pruett
Sonoma: Qual. 9; Beat Antron Brown, Leah Pruett; Lost to Brittany Force
Seattle: Qual. 6; Beat Mike Salinas; Lost to Tony Schumacher
Topeka: Qual. 9; Beat Clay Millican; Lost to Mike Salinas
Brainerd: Qual. 11; Beat Leah Pruett; Lost to Justin Ashley
Indianapolis: Qual. 15; Lost to Justin Ashley
J.R. Todd and DHL want to Recapture Reading Nationals Magic to Start Countdown
This weekend at Maple Grove Raceway J.R. Todd and the DHL Toyota GR Supra Funny Car team will be looking to repeat history as they begin their campaign for a second Camping World NHRA Funny Car world championship. In 2018 Todd won the Reading Nationals on the way to his first Funny Car championship and the veteran driver who has 10 career Funny Car national event wins would like to duplicate that performance this weekend. This season Todd has most recently raced to a runner-up finish in Seattle and two quarterfinal finishes over the past four races.
“This is the time of the season when every run counts,” said Todd. “I won the race in 2018 on my way to the championship and we would love to start off the Countdown with a win. We have some ground to make up, but this DHL Toyota team is up to the challenge.”
Todd is one of just three drivers in the long history of Maple Grove Raceway to have collected a Top Fuel and Funny Car national event win. Todd joins Hall of Famers Kenny Bernstein and Gary Scelzi on that short and illustrious list. Through his career which started in junior dragster Todd has been a successful driver with exceptional driving skills. He is one of the quickest drivers off the starting line and in the Countdown reaction times will come into play as the pressure ramps up with every race.
“You have to be at the top of your game when you roll up to the starting line,” said Todd. “This class has a lot of great drivers from top to bottom. I just want to do my job off the line to give this DHL team the best chance to get the win light. This is a complete team effort and we are all ready for the Countdown.”
Todd is starting the Countdown from sixth place in the Funny Car standings which with the reset point structure has the 2018 world champion three rounds out of first place. Strong runs in qualifying on a quick and fast Maple Grove Raceway track could immediately cut into that deficit.
The DHL Toyota team will get their first run on Friday night with two more qualifying passes on Saturday to grab one of the sixteen spots in the race day field. Sunday eliminations will begin at 10:30 a.m. ET with the race being broadcast nationally on FOX.
2021 Reading Nationals Highlights: Qual. No. 7; Beat Alexis DeJoria, Cruz Pedregon; Lost to Tommy Johnson Jr.
Last Event Recap 2022 U.S. Nationals: Qual. 8; Beat Cruz Pedregon; Lost to Ron Capps
Career Stats: 271 events, 263 starts, 297 round wins, 19 wins, 41 finals, 14 No. 1 qualifiers; In Funny Car: 119 events, 119 starts, 10 wins, 21 finals, 149 round wins, 5 No. 1 qualifiers
Winternationals: Qual. 8; Beat Bobby Bode; Lost to Ron Capps
Arizona Nationals: Qual. 8; Lost to Alexis DeJoria
Gatornationals: Qual. 11; Lost to Blake Alexander
Las Vegas1: Qual. 9; Beat Tim Wilkerson and Jason Qual. 7; Beat Jim Campbell; Lost to Robert Hight Rupert; Lost to Ron Capps and Matt Hagan
Houston: Qual. 13; Beat Bob Tasca III, Jim Campbell; Lost to Matt Hagan
Charlotte1: Qual. 6; Beat Dale Creasy Jr, Chad Green; Lost to Ron Capps, Mike McIntire
Richmond: Qual. 5; Lost to John Force
Epping: Qual. 10; Beat Blake Alexander, Cruz Pedregon; Lost to Matt Hagan
Bristol: Qual. 11; Lost to Cruz Pedregon
Norwalk: Qual. 7; Beat Blake Alexander, John Force; Lost to Robert Hight
Denver: Qual. 6; Beat Cruz Pedregon; Lost to John Force
Sonoma: Qual. 10; Beat Tim Wilkerson; Lost to John Force
Seattle: Qual. 7; RUNNER-UP; Beat Blake Alexander, Bob Tasca III, bye; Lost to Robert Hight
Topeka: Qual. 8; Lost to Alexis DeJoria
Brainerd: Qual. 7; Beat Jim Campbell; Lost to Robert Hight
Indianapolis: Qual. 8; Beat Cruz Pedregon; Lost to Ron Capps