Richie Crampton team Kalitta Air/DHL take home the Wally at Gatornationals

Crampton got the uncontested win when he piloted his Kalitta Air/DHL dragster to the winning run of 3.854 seconds at 314.90 mph after Shawn Reed had to shut off his dragster on the starting line. This is Crampton’s first Wally since Dallas 2015, first event victory at Gainesville Raceway, and eighth overall.

“This is probably one of my most rewarding wins, ever,” Crampton said. “All I ever wanted to do was stand in the winner’s circle with (team owner) Connie Kalitta. Not a lot of people have had that luxury and I’m not taking this one lightly.”

Reed, who raced to his first career final round, started from the No. 12 position and defeated Pat Dakin, Tony Schumacher, and No. 1 qualifier Clay Millican before the final.


Steve Torrence gets the win at Arizona Nationals

Torrence powered his Capco Contractors/Torrence Racing dragster to the Top Fuel victory with a run of 3.729 at 330.72 to take down Scott Palmer in the final round. After locking down a career-best eight victories in 2017, Torrence recorded a victory in Phoenix for the first time in his career.

“There is no easy round in this Top Fuel class anymore, you can’t take anybody lightly, but it was a heck of a day with some pretty great races,” Torrence said. “The round against my dad is one that ranks up there that you remember as a high note that you remember of your career.”

Torrence qualified second on the weekend and defeated Steve Chrisman, Blake Alexander and his father, Billy Torrence, on his path to victory.

Palmer secured the No. 12 qualifying spot and took down Richie Crampton, Leah Pritchett and Greg Carrillo as he reached the first final round of his career in Top Fuel.

Doug Kalitta Wins season opener at Pomona

Behind the Numbers: Kalitta has been great, now he just needs a little luck

The Mac Tools driver started the season with a victory with skill, hard work, and a little help from a horseshoe.
15 Feb 2018
 Jacob Sundstrom, NHRA National Dragster Associate Editor
Behind the Numbers
Doug Kalitta

Few crew chiefs capture a moment like Jim Oberhofer. After Doug Kalitta snagged a semifinal victory against Clay Millican at the season-opening Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals presented by, Oberhofer delivered some colorful language before saying, “We just got lucky. That’s it.” Kalitta won with a 3.866 across from a 4.860 as both cars hazed the tires early, and the Mac Tools pilot got enough cylinders to re-fire, forcing his dragster across the stripe first.

Luck is not something Kalitta enjoyed a lot of in 2017. He ended up on the wrong end of many close races during the 2017 season, keeping from reaching the winner’s circle until the opening Countdown to the Championship race in Charlotte. That’s despite being one of the better leavers in the class (fourth, with an average reaction time of .067) and having a very consistent dragster.

Neither of those things match up with the narrative built around Kalitta, but as is often the case in sports, where colloquial wisdom reigns supreme, not all stories pass the smell test. For as much as racers, crewmembers, media members, and fans will tell you they believe in luck one moment, it’s rarely accepted as an explanation when things go awry.

In the past two seasons and change (including the 2018 Winternationals), Kalitta has made 75 eliminations passes quicker than 3.8 seconds and won 58 of them (77.3 percent). That’s lower than Antron Brown (84.5), Brittany Force (84.4), Steve Torrence (85.5), and Leah Pritchett (81.4) over the same timeframe. He has been a tic more successful than Tony Schumacher (77.2) in those races.

What’s striking is how similar the driver’s average elapsed times are within these ranges. Kalitta (3.748), Torrence (3.744), Brown (3.747), and Schumacher (3.747) are all within four-thousandths of one another, and Pritchett (3.736) and Force (3.729) aren’t far off. Reaction time comes into play, of course, but I’ve already established Kalitta is among the best in the sport by that metric, and his car is just as quick as the other heavy hitters in the class.

One of the most famous colloquial sayings in drag racing is that it’s a “right place, right time sport,” which is just another way of saying you have to be lucky and good. If you combine the above elapsed time averages with the driver’s average reaction times (to create an average package time), here’s what you get: Torrence (3.805), Brown (3.807), Force (3.812), Pritchett (3.812), Kalitta (3.815), and Schumacher (3.825).

Which is to say — it’s very close. Torrence and Brown separate themselves in consistency. Torrence and the Capco boys get down the track quicker than 3.8 seconds 76.3 percent of the time, compared to 69.2 percent of the time for Brown and the Matco Tools team. Kalitta comes in third (58.6), followed by Schumacher (56.9), Force (56.6), and Pritchett (54.6). Quick is only useful if it happens consistently.

All that to say, turning on four win lights on Sunday requires a competitive car (Kalitta has that), a good driver (check), and sometimes a little luck. The recipe doesn’t specify the ratio. Locking up that elusive first championship? That calls for a pile of round-wins, preferably throughout the entire season, though packing a bunch of them in the final six races is probably a good idea. It seems aiming for two or three wins in the Countdown usually does the trick, depending on your regular-season performance.

Over the past two-plus years, Brown and Torrence each have 11 wins, Force has seven, Pritchett owns five Wallys, Schumacher has three, and Kalitta now has six of his own. Turning this start into his first Top Fuel championship will require Kalitta to keep doing what he has been doing the past two seasons. He’s also going to need more luck than he has gotten over the past two years. That’s not a bad thing — the drivers he has been facing off with have been getting it, too.

Brittany Force wins NHRA Top Fuel championship

POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 12) – Monster Energy driver Brittany Force made history Sunday at famed Auto Club Raceway, storming to the Top Fuel championship by winning the Auto Club NHRA Finals in her DMPE-supercharged dragster.

In doing so, she became the first daughter of the legendary John Force to win a championship, following her dad’s 16 Funny Car titles with one of her own.

She became just the second female to win a championship in the nitro categories and the first since Shirley Muldowney won the Top Fuel title in 1982.

“That’s pretty incredible,” Force said. “I’m still trying to wrap my head around a Pomona win. I’ve always wanted to win here – it’s my home track, and we have the championship. All of it, it’s still doesn’t seem real. The only reason it is real is because of all the support around me.”

That not only includes her family, but also her Monster Energy team. In her fifth season as a professional driver, Force has her first championship.

“It’s huge,” Force said. “I’ve watched my dad for years. I really have to give it up to him and thank him and my mom for all their support. They’ve always had my back every tough weekend. I’ve been beaten on holeshots countless times – and red lights, those are tough to come back from.

“But I really believed that that would make me a better driver in the end. Today is pretty great, seeing it all come back full circle.”

Force was solid all day, cutting good lights and eventually beating Shawn Langdon in the final for her fourth victory of the season and seventh of her career.

But the most important round win was in the second round, when she knocked off Richie Crampton moments after points leader Steve Torrence lost to Antron Brown. Force was first off the Christmas Tree and then made a pass of 3.679 seconds at 328.22 mph to beat Crampton and clinch the championship.

“I’ve been carrying a gut-ache for two weeks because I’ve been wanting to get here to today,” Force said. “I thought, ‘Just get me to Sunday, get me in my race car, and let’s see what our team can do.’ I know my team, my crew chiefs, and I know they bring everything to the line. Then it’s my job to finish it, and we did that all day long.”

In the final, she made another terrific run, 3.667 seconds at 330.07 mph to earn her third victory in the six-race Countdown to the Championship. Force and her John Force Racing team were terrific in the NHRA playoffs, winning three times, posting one runner-up finish and one semifinal finish. She began the Countdown in sixth place in points but scored the most points in the Countdown to vault to second behind Torrence.

Then came Sunday, when Force took control.

“We’ve had an incredible day,” Force said. “I still haven’t wrapped my head around what happened. It’s a dream. I don’t know if I ever thought we’d be here. To lock everything up the way we did is pretty incredible, and I have to thank Alan Johnson, Brian Husen and my entire Monster Energy team for that.”

Del Worsham wins 2015 NHRA Funny Car title

Del Worsham, driver of the DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car, is your 2015 NHRA Mello Yello World Champion and winner of the final race of the year: the Auto Club Finals.

He secured the championship by defeating Jack Beckman in the semi-final round of the Auto Club Finals. In a weekend with record-breaking runs, Worsham came out on top, earning Kalitta Motorsports their first Funny Car championship.

This championship makes Worsham the third driver to win a championship in Top Fuel and Funny Car, while delivering Kalitta Motorsports their first title since the late Scott Kalitta won in back-to-back years in 1994 and 1995 in the Top Fuel class.

This was Toyota’s first Funny Car championship since 2008 and only second overall; and with family and friends around, the championship win became very special for Worsham.

“It is an amazing feeling. I have been here before, not that did me any good up there,” said Worsham. “It felt like it was 25 years ago, and I was making my first run. The team has been behind me, regardless of the situation. We are racing for Scott, Connie and the entire Kalitta Motorsports family. My teammates, sponsors, DHL, Toyota, Red Line, thank you for your support. Nicky Boninfante, Jon Oberhofer, Dave Boyer and the entire DHL team, the job they have did has been incredible. They have not made a mistake since September.”