JOLIET, IL – July 5, 2016 – (Motor Sports Newswire) – Through the first half of the 2016 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season, Doug Kalitta has put together a performance that can lead to a world championship.
That’s a satisfying notion for the longtime Top Fuel standout, as Kalitta, who is fourth all-time in Top Fuel wins with 41, is still chasing his first career world championship title. He has been fantastic through 12 races in 2016, winning three straight races at one point and putting together one consistent run after another in his 10,000-horsepower Mac Tools dragster.
It’s kept him in the points lead for the past six races and Kalitta looks to extend that streak and open up the second half of the season on a strong note at this weekend’s K&N Filters Route 66 NHRA Nationals at Route 66 Raceway.
“The Mac Tools/Red Line Oil Toyota team is focused,” Kalitta said. “My guys have worked very hard and are continuing to run strong with no mistakes. (Crew chief) Jim O (Oberhofer) has a great handle on the tune-up.
“I do not think you can ever be sure you are 100 percent where you want to be, because the competition is so tough. I am proud that we have the points lead and want to hold that through the start of the Countdown for the Championship because of the 30 point advantage you receive, but the Mac Tools team continuously is striving for more and not resting on just what we know.”
Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel), Tommy Johnson Jr. (Funny Car), Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) and Hector Arana Jr. (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of the event that will for the first time be televised nationally on FOX Sports 1. The fan-favorite event at the state-of-the-art motorsports facility located just south of downtown Chicago, will mark the official start of the second half and just five events follow it before the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship playoffs begins.
Kalitta and his talented team aren’t resting on a successful start to the 2016 campaign that included a string of victories in Houston, Atlanta and Topeka. He didn’t win during the recent four-race Eastern Swing stretch, but Kalitta continues to be a model of consistency, advancing to the semifinals at three of the past four races and qualifying first at the most recent race in Norwalk.
Coupled with the success of Top Fuel teammate J.R. Todd, a finalist in Norwalk, as well as Kalitta Motorsports Funny Car drivers Alexis DeJoria, who won in Las Vegas, and reigning world champion Del Worsham, and Kalitta is pleased with where the entire organization is headed as the most important part of the season is approaching.
“We are really happy with our performance this season at Kalitta Motorsports,” Kalitta said. “To put both Funny Cars in the final in Vegas and then the race J.R. and I had in Atlanta were great days for our team. We continue to work hard collectively, and I think it shows on track with what we have been able to accomplish.”
The team also continues to push hard off the track, staying on an innovative track in the highly-competitive nitro classes. Kalitta is running the new Bounty Hunter chassis, something that has responded extremely well to his dragster.
“First off, it is awesome that this chassis is the first one to come out of our shop,” Kalitta said. “The guys in the Bounty Hunter Chassis shop really have put together a nice piece. Then Jim O and Troy (Fasching, assistant crew chief) have a great handle on the tune-up regardless of the weather conditions. Everyone on the Mac Tools team has worked very hard and are focused on the end prize.”
Kalitta appears locked in headed to the Countdown to the Championship and hopes to add to his three Top Fuel victories at Route 66 Raceway. But standing in his way is a host of stars, including defending event winner and eight-time world champion Schumacher, who has yet to win in 2016. Others to watch include two-time 2016 winner Brittany Force, Steve Torrence, who also has two wins this year, Richie Crampton, defending world champion Antron Brown, Shawn Langdon, who has posted back-to-back victories, Terry McMillen and Clay Millican.
But racing at Route 66 Raceway provides another opportunity to race close to home, following the most recent event in Norwalk, giving Kalitta another chance to perform in front of family and friends.
“Chicago is a great facility,” Kalitta said. “I have had a lot of success there and so has Kalitta Motorsports as a whole. It is nice to get these two events so close to our home. It allows a lot of family and friends to spend some time at the track which is always good.”
In Funny Car, Tommy Johnson Jr. sprinted to victory in Chicago by outlasting Matt Hagan in last year’s final and has plenty of momentum by picking up his first victory this season in Bristol. Hagan, a three-time Chicago winner, has two victories this season, while everyone is chasing points leader Ron Capps, who won in Norwalk and has four wins in 2016. The rest of the star-studded field includes 16-time world champion John Force, three-time Route 66 Raceway winner and defending world champ Del Worsham, two-time season winner Tim Wilkerson, Jack Beckman, Courtney Force, Robert Hight and Alexis DeJoria.
Pro Stock racer Allen Johnson drove to his first victory of the 2015 season in Chicago and will have the chance to shake things up in the redesigned Pro Stock class this weekend, which has been dominated by Jason Line and Greg Anderson in the first half of 2016. The new look Pro Stock cars feature fuel injected engines, 10,500 RPM rev-limiters, flat hoods and shortened wheelie bars. Summit Racing Equipment Chevy Camaro teammates Line and Anderson have been quick to figure out the new configuration and setup and have been unbeatable in the first 12 races. Line has seven wins and the points lead, and Anderson is right behind with five victories. Both have already secured their playoff berths into the Countdown. Meanwhile, drivers like back-to-back world champ Erica Enders, five-time world champ Jeg Coughlin Jr., Vincent Nobile, 2015 top rookie Drew Skillman, Chris McGaha, veteran driver Shane Gray, and rising stars Alex Laughlin and Bo Butner are eager to find their way to winner’s circle as well.
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Arana Jr. raced to first victory of the season and second consecutive at Route 66 Raceway by defeating Matt Smith in the final round one year ago. Standing in his way of a three-peat at the track is points leader Eddie Krawiec, who already has three victories this season, and his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson teammate and defending world champion Andrew Hines. Others to watch in the two-wheeled category include Louisiana alligator farmer Jerry Savoie, three-time world champ Angelle Sampey, who won in Englishtown, LE Tonglet, Pomona runner-up Hector Arana Sr. and Karen Stoffer.
The Route 66 NHRA Nationals will also feature thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, including the popular and highly-competitive JEGS Allstars bonus event.
As always, fans will have the opportunity to interact with their favorite drivers as they’re granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. This unique opportunity in motorsports gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to see firsthand how the highly-skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds, and get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers.
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 5:15 and 7:45 p.m. on Friday, July 8, and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, July 9, at 3:15 and 6 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, July 10.
To purchase general-admission or reserved seats, call 888-629-RACE (7223) or 815-722-5500. Tickets also are available online at www.route66raceway.com. Kids 12 and under are free in general admission areas with a paid adult. For more information about the NHRA visit www.NHRA.com.
ROUTE 66 NHRA NATIONALS FACT SHEET
WHAT: 19th annual Route 66 NHRA Nationals, the 13th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season. Drivers in four categories – Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle – earn points leading to 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series world championships. The NHRA Lucas Oil Series also will be featured at this event, including the popular JEGS Allstars.
WHERE: Route 66 Raceway, Joliet, Ill. The track is located 30 miles southwest of Chicago on Route 53 (historic Route 66), approximately three miles south of I-80 in Joliet. Take I-80 to exit #132A (Route 53 south) to the track.
COURSE: Championship drag strip; Track elevation is 632 feet above sea level; Track direction is west to east.
WHEN: Thursday through Sunday, July 7-10
THURSDAY, July 7 – LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying
FRIDAY, July 8 – LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 5:15 and 7:45p.m.
SATURDAY, July 9 – LUCAS OIL SERIES eliminations
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 3:15 and 6 p.m.
SUNDAY, July 10 – Pre-race ceremonies, 10 a.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES eliminations begin at 11 a.m.
Saturday, July 9, FS1 will televise two hours of qualifying coverage at 10 p.m. (ET).
Sunday, July 10, FS1 will televise three hours of live finals coverage at 2 p.m. (ET).
2015 EVENT WINNERS: Tony Schumacher, Top Fuel; Tommy Johnson Jr., Funny Car; Allen Johnson, Pro Stock, Hector Arana Jr., Pro Stock Motorcycle.
MOST VICTORIES: Jeg Coughlin, 5, PS; Tony Schumacher, 5, TF; Kenny Bernstein, 4, TF; Tony Pedregon, 4, FC; Whit Bazemore, 3, FC; Larry Dixon, 3, TF; John Force, 3, FC; Matt Hagan, 3, FC; Doug Kalitta, 3, TF; Kurt Johnson, 3, PS; Jason Line, 3, PS; Del Worsham, 3, FC.
Top Fuel – 3.729 sec. by Anton Brown, July ’15; 328.78 mph by Dave Connolly, July ’15.
Funny Car – 3.966 sec. by Cruz Pedregon, July ’15; 322.50 mph by Courtney Force, June ’14.
Pro Stock – 6.528 sec. by Drew Skillman, July ’15; 211.83 mph by Greg Anderson, July ’15.
PS Motorcycle – 6.856 sec. by Chip Ellis, July ’15; 196.82 mph by Hector Arana Jr., July ’15.
Top Fuel – 3.676 sec. by Brittany Force, May ’16, Topeka, Kan.; 332.75 mph by Spencer Massey, Aug. ’15, Brainerd, Minn.
Funny Car – 3.862 sec. and 335.57 mph by Matt Hagan, May ’16, Topeka, Kan.
Pro Stock – 6.455 sec. by Jason Line, March ’15, Charlotte, N.C.; 215.55 mph by Erica Enders, May ‘14, Englishtown N.J.
PS Motorcycle – 6.728 sec. by Andrew Hines, Oct. ’12, Reading, Pa.; 199.88 mph by Hector Arana Jr., March ’15, Charlotte, N.C.
TICKETS: For tickets, call (888) 629-RACE (7223) or purchase online at www.route66raceway.com.
NHRA MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS STANDINGS
GLENDORA, CA — Point standings (top 10) following the 12th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series –
1. Doug Kalitta, 1,009; 2. Antron Brown, 940; 3. Steve Torrence, 846; 4. Brittany Force, 832; 5. Tony Schumacher, 729; 6. Shawn Langdon, 711; 7. J.R. Todd, 645; 8. Clay Millican, 572; 9. Richie Crampton, 570; 10. Leah Pritchett, 463.
1. Ron Capps, 966; 2. Courtney Force, 836; 3. Jack Beckman, 823; 4. Del Worsham, 762; 5. Tommy Johnson Jr., 750; 6. Matt Hagan, 747; 7. Tim Wilkerson, 723; 8. Robert Hight, 722; 9. John Force, 668; 10. Alexis DeJoria, 640.
1. Jason Line, 1,389 *; 2. Greg Anderson, 1,274 *; 3. Bo Butner, 796; 4. Allen Johnson, 719; 5. Drew Skillman, 683; 6. Vincent Nobile, 613; 7. Chris McGaha, 557; 8. Shane Gray, 532; 9. Jeg Coughlin, 528; 10. Alex Laughlin, 498.
Pro Stock Motorcycle:
1. Eddie Krawiec, 557; 2. (tie) Andrew Hines, 391; Jerry Savoie, 391; 4. Angelle Sampey, 372; 5. Chip Ellis, 300; 6. Hector Arana, 291; 7. LE Tonglet, 253; 8. Matt Smith, 192; 9. Scotty Pollacheck, 183; 10. Steve Johnson, 179.
* Clinched playoff berth in NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship