J.R. Todd

Photo courtesy NHRA

NHRA U.S. Nationals: Plenty of surprises, good and bad, in final eliminations

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Monday’s final eliminations of the 63rd annual NHRA Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals produced a number of surprises both good and bad.

Here’s some of the highlights – and lowlights:

* Three of the four winners were first-time U.S Nationals champions: Steve Torrence (Top Fuel), J.R. Todd (Funny Car) and Drew Skillman (Pro Stock). Pro Stock Motorcycle rider Eddie Krawiec won his second U.S. Nationals title.

* The most pleasant surprise was the Cinderella story of Top Fuel driver Kebin (yes, not Kevin) Kinsley. The Texas driver grabbed the final (16th) qualifying position before rolling all the way to the final round against No. 1 qualifier and fellow Texan Steve Torrence. Kinsley had never reached the final round of any NHRA national event, but he did Monday. Unfortunately, he smoked the tires (lost traction) in the final round matchup vs. Torrence. But coming home runner-up in the sport’s biggest race of the year is nothing to be sad about. Congrats to Kinsley on an outstanding weekend.

* J.R. Todd earned his second career Funny Car win in fine fashion, and did so with an extra bonus: the Indianapolis-area native did it in front of numerous family members and friends at his home track. Todd began racing in the NHRA Junior Dragster program over 20 years ago, and to win the sport’s biggest race, and to do so on home turf, it was the biggest day of Todd’s racing career.

* The Gray family – grandfather Johnny, father Shane and son Tanner – became the first family to ever have three members compete in an NHRA race in the same category. Tanner finished third, Johnny 11th and Shane 12th.

* John Force Racing had a difficult Monday. Patriarch and 16-time NHRA Funny Car champion John Force lost in the first round to Del Worsham and finished 13th, daughter Courtney lost to Cruz Pedregon also in the first round, Robert Hight lost in the quarterfinals to Tim Wilkerson and in Top Fuel, Brittany lost in the first round to Shawn Langdon. JFR needs to rebound in a big way when the Countdown starts in two weeks.

* Funny Car driver Tim Wilkerson had a heartbreaking semifinal round. He easily had Todd beaten, but wasn’t able to keep his car under control and crossed the centerline, drawing immediate disqualification. If that had not happened, Todd would not have gone on to win the event in the next round.

* In a rarity of sorts, not one Don Schumacher Racing car emerged with a win. In Top Fuel, Antron Brown lost in the quarterfinals, while Leah Pritchett and Tony Schumacher lost in the semifinals. In Funny Car, Matt Hagan and Tommy Johnson Jr. lost in the first round. Jack Beckman reached the semifinals, while Ron Capps made it all the way to the final round, but lost to Todd.

* Speaking of Capps, he’s been competing at the U.S. Nationals for over 20 years. Even though he’s the second-winningest driver in Funny Car annals, and won last season’s championship, he continued a dubious mark of still never having won the U.S. Nationals.

* Appearing in her first U.S. Nationals, rookie Top Fuel driver Ashley Sanford showed strong promise, although she lost to Torrence in the first round Monday. If you’re going to lose to anyone, it might as well be the best driver in the class, right?

* Veteran Pro Stock driver and former champion Allen Johnson, who announced Friday that he would be retiring as a driver at season’s end, had hoped to win Monday, but fell short, being eliminated in the quarterfinals by Tanner Gray.

* Defending 2016 Pro Stock Motorcycle champion Jerry Savoie looked like he would have a good chance of winning his second straight U.S. Nationals, but fell short in the semifinals to Hector Arana Jr. In an ironic twist, Savoie’s teammate, LE Tonglet, lost in the quarterfinals to Krawiec, who would go on to meet and beat Arana Jr. in the finals.

* Funny Car driver Cruz Pedregon, who has endured a rough couple of seasons, was the final qualifier to make the Countdown. The two-time world Funny Car champ secured his spot in the playoffs with his first round win over Courtney Force. Pedregon then lost in the quarterfinals to Todd.

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NHRA U.S. Nationals: Steve Torrence, J.R. Todd, Drew Skillman, Eddie Krawiec win ‘the Big Go’

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Steve Torrence (Top Fuel), J.R. Todd (Funny Car), Drew Skillman (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) emerged as the winners in Monday’s final eliminations of the 63rd NHRA Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway in Brownsburg, Indiana.

In Top Fuel, Torrence earned his first career U.S. Nationals title with a run of 3.757 seconds at 322.96 mph, while also ending the Cinderella story of the weekend, fellow Texan Kebin Kinsley (lost traction at starting line), in the final round of the biggest race of the season.

A tearful Torrence told Fox Sports, “This is the biggest day of my life. It’s a lot of hard work. My dad ain’t here. This is for you, Dad (holding the winner’s trophy). I’m proud like a little kid. We’ve been here three times in the final and didn’t get it done. This is bad-ass!”

Torrence swept the weekend, winning Sunday’s Traxxas Nitro Top Fuel Shootout and the $100,000 prize that came with it, and leaves Indianapolis as the No. 1 seed in the upcoming six-race Countdown to the Championship, Sept. 15-17 at zMax Dragway in Concord, N.C.

“This is surreal,” Torrence said after earning his 14th career NHRA Top Fuel win, and fifth this season. “I don’t even know if I’m realizing what’s going on right now. This is what we race our careers for, is to try and win Indy and it’s a marathon. I’m wore out.

“Unless you’re a racer and in this situation, I don’t think I can explain the feelings that you get. This is us winning the biggest race of our sport. I said this the other day, you can win a bunch of championships but if you don’t win Indy then you haven’t really done much. So, we’ve won Indy.”

In Funny Car, Todd — an Indiana native — knocked off 2016 NHRA Funny Car champ Ron Capps (3.923 seconds at 325.61 mph). Both drivers were seeking their first U.S. Nationals title, and Todd (3.949 seconds at 325.53 mph) did so.

“This was where it all started for me in Junior Dragsters,” Todd said. “I remember watching Capps as a kid and now I raced him in the final round of Indy. It’s too surreal. Like Torrence said, you win Indy and you know you’ve beaten the best in the sport. Ron Capps and those guys out there are the best in the sport.”

Capps told Fox Sports, “We’ve got to wait until next year. That’s what’s so special about this race. It comes once a year and you have your chance. The gods here at Indy, when they decided it’s time for me, hopefully we’ll get that win. Tough race. Obviously, the fans got a good race. (Todd) stepped it up and outran us. I’m disappointed we lost, obviously, but also very excited about our chances going into the Countdown.”

Capps is the No. 1 Countdown seed in Funny Car.

In Pro Stock, it was a battle of old school racing (veteran and three-time champ Greg Anderson) vs. youthful local Indianapolis racer Drew Skillman.

Anderson (6.660 seconds at 208.01 mph) would be deprived of his seventh U.S. Nationals win, as the young gun had a better reaction time and carried it all the way (6.676 seconds at 206.621 mph) to the finish line, earning his first career U.S. Nationals title.

“That’s a lifetime achievement right there,” Skillman told Fox Sports. “I got two goals off my back: I got Greg Anderson, who I’ve never beat, and finally got him, and I won my hometown race. This is huge. This is record book stuff for me.”

What made Skillman’s win all the more impressive is the engine in his car broke after the quarterfinals, forcing his team to scramble to replace it with a brand new motor that had never been tested beforehand.

As for Anderson, he told Fox Sports, “The other driver did a better job, he was better on the tree, I had a better car and I lost. I apologize to all my guys. I’ve had such a great car all weekend. It was my race to win. Worst (starting) light I had all weekend. My hat’s off to Drew Skillman. He did a better job. Next race, we start over and try again … but a golden opportunity lost.”

Bo Butner is No. 1 heading into the Countdown.

In Pro Stock Motorcycle, No. 1 qualifier Eddie Krawiec (6.868 seconds at 196.90 mph) earned his second career U.S. Nationals win and 39th overall win of his career, defeating Hector Arana Jr. (6.886 seconds at 195.48 mph) by less than the length of a tire.

“It couldn’t be any better than this,” Krawiec told Fox Sports. “We struggled through the early part of the season. It looks now like we’ve turned the corner. It’s an awesome deal.”

L.E. Tonglet is the No. 1 seed heading into the Countdown.

Here’s the final statistics from Monday’s final eliminations of the U.S. Nationals:


TOP FUEL: 1. Steve Torrence; 2. Kebin Kinsley; 3. Tony Schumacher; 4. Leah Pritchett; 5. Antron Brown; 6. Doug Kalitta; 7. Pat Dakin; 8. Shawn Langdon; 9. Brittany Force; 10. Clay Millican; 11. Bob Vandergriff; 12. Ashley Sanford; 13. Terry McMillen; 14. Scott Palmer; 15. Richie Crampton; 16. Wayne Newby.
FUNNY CAR: 1. J.R. Todd; 2. Ron Capps; 3. Jack Beckman; 4. Tim Wilkerson; 5. Cruz Pedregon; 6. Robert Hight; 7. Del Worsham; 8. Jim Campbell; 9. Alexis DeJoria; 10. Jonnie Lindberg; 11. Tommy Johnson Jr.; 12. Courtney Force; 13. John Force; 14. Justin Schriefer; 15. Brian Stewart; 16. Matt Hagan.
PRO STOCK: 1. Drew Skillman; 2. Greg Anderson; 3. Tanner Gray; 4. Alex Laughlin; 5. Jason Line; 6. Allen Johnson; 7. Chris McGaha; 8. Bo Butner; 9. Vincent Nobile; 10. Matt Hartford; 11. Johnny Gray; 12. Shane Gray; 13. Erica Enders; 14. Jeg Coughlin; 15. Deric Kramer; 16. Kenny Delco.
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: 1. Eddie Krawiec; 2. Hector Arana Jr; 3. Jerry Savoie; 4. Matt Smith; 5. Scotty Pollacheck; 6. Chip Ellis; 7. Andrew Hines; 8. LE Tonglet; 9. Angelle Sampey; 10. Steve Johnson; 11. Karen Stoffer; 12. Cory Reed; 13. Jim Underdahl; 14. Angie Smith; 15. Joey Gladstone; 16. Mike Berry.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

TOP FUEL: Steve Torrence, 3.757 seconds, 322.96 mph def. Kebin Kinsley, 10.820 seconds, 48.47 mph.

FUNNY CAR: J.R. Todd, Toyota Camry, 3.923, 325.61 def. Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 3.949, 325.53.

PRO STOCK: Drew Skillman, Chevy Camaro, 6.676, 206.61 def. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.660, 208.01.
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.858, 196.90 def. Hector Arana Jr, Buell, 6.886, 195.48.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
TOP FUEL: ROUND ONE — Pat Dakin, 3.757, 315.64 def. Bob Vandergriff, 3.762, 325.22; Tony Schumacher, 3.736, 319.98 def. Terry McMillen, 3.797, 318.84; Kebin Kinsley, 3.813, 318.02 def. Clay Millican, 3.756, 323.97; Leah Pritchett, 3.711, 323.97 def. Wayne Newby, Broke; Steve Torrence, 3.738, 329.75 def. Ashley Sanford, 3.785, 323.27; Doug Kalitta, 3.874, 315.56 def. Richie Crampton, 4.084, 207.75; Antron Brown, 3.726, 324.44 def. Scott Palmer, 3.828, 300.46; Shawn Langdon, 3.756, 325.69 def. Brittany Force, 3.724, 329.02;
QUARTERFINALS — Kinsley, 3.757, 322.96 def. Langdon, 4.238, 229.47; Schumacher, 3.734, 328.78 def. Kalitta, 3.757, 325.30; Torrence, 3.730, 327.59 def. Brown, 3.745, 322.50; Pritchett, 3.732, 320.97 def. Dakin, 4.071, 221.45;
SEMIFINALS — Kinsley, 3.772, 316.30 def. Schumacher, 3.801, 324.59; Torrence, 3.765, 324.05 def. Pritchett, 9.779, 81.04;
FINAL — Torrence, 3.757, 322.96 def. Kinsley, 10.820, 48.47.
FUNNY CAR: ROUND ONE — Del Worsham, Toyota Camry, 4.010, 320.97 def. John Force, Chevy Camaro, 4.068, 318.17; Robert Hight, Camaro, 3.867, 330.15 def. Justin Schriefer, Dodge Charger, 4.172, 295.01; Jim Campbell, Charger, 5.008, 164.63 def. Matt Hagan, Charger, 10.951, 77.59; Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 3.946, 328.62 def. Courtney Force, Camaro, 4.055, 300.20; Jack Beckman, Charger, 3.890, 327.03 def. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 3.925, 329.34; J.R. Todd, Camry, 3.914, 329.02 def. Brian Stewart, Ford Mustang, 4.641, 174.55; Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 3.915, 326.71 def. Jonnie Lindberg, Camry, 3.914, 325.14; Ron Capps, Charger, 3.880, 328.54 def. Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 3.901, 331.94;
QUARTERFINALS — Beckman, 3.878, 327.35 def. Worsham, 4.132, 252.90; Wilkerson, 3.940, 326.79 def. Hight, 4.102, 286.50; Capps, 3.939, 300.60 def. Campbell, 6.609, 100.03; Todd, 3.939, 326.00 def. Pedregon, 3.970, 325.30;
SEMIFINALS — Todd, def. Wilkerson, Foul – Centerline; Capps, 3.940, 324.75 def. Beckman, 3.948, 322.81;
FINAL — Todd, 3.923, 325.61 def. Capps, 3.949, 325.53.
PRO STOCK: ROUND ONE — Jason Line, Chevy Camaro, 6.656, 206.86 def. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.688, 207.15; Allen Johnson, Dodge Dart, 6.662, 207.05 def. Johnny Gray, Camaro, 6.688, 207.18; Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.660, 206.42 def. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.703, 206.99; Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.669, 206.86 def. Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.692, 206.23; Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.669, 206.20 def. Jeg Coughlin, Camaro, 6.713, 205.66; Tanner Gray, Camaro, 6.638, 208.07 def. Deric Kramer, Dart, 6.752, 204.23; Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.630, 208.04 def. Kenny Delco, Camaro, 11.441, 77.96; Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.651, 207.59 def. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.674, 207.30;
QUARTERFINALS — Skillman, 6.680, 206.61 def. McGaha, 6.697, 206.54; Laughlin, 6.688, 206.67 def. Butner, Foul – Red Light; T. Gray, 6.669, 207.43 def. Johnson, 6.679, 206.89; Anderson, 6.633, 208.23 def. Line, 6.664, 207.34;
SEMIFINALS — Skillman, 6.692, 206.04 def. T. Gray, 6.689, 206.70; Anderson, 6.664, 207.82 def. Laughlin, 6.691, 207.46;
FINAL — Skillman, 6.676, 206.61 def. Anderson, 6.660, 208.01.
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: ROUND ONE — Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.919, 194.24 def. Angie Smith, Buell, Foul – Red Light; LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.898, 194.86 def. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, Foul – Red Light; Scotty Pollacheck, Suzuki, 6.881, 193.93 def. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.940, 191.95; Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.882, 197.22 def. Angelle Sampey, 6.933, 193.35; Chip Ellis, 6.898, 194.24 def. Mike Berry, Buell, 9.374, 93.07; Matt Smith, 6.858, 196.24 def. Joey Gladstone, Suzuki, 7.003, 190.94; Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.842, 196.56 def. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 6.989, 193.16; Hector Arana Jr, Buell, 6.891, 194.74 def. Cory Reed, 6.976, 190.54;
QUARTERFINALS — Savoie, 6.901, 193.65 def. Hines, 6.929, 195.96; Arana Jr, 6.882, 195.14 def. Pollacheck, 6.915, 193.63; M. Smith, 6.916, 195.03 def. Ellis, 6.922, 192.11; Krawiec, 6.881, 195.31 def. Tonglet, 6.985, 193.93;
SEMIFINALS — Arana Jr, 6.920, 194.88 def. Savoie, 7.043, 190.57; Krawiec, 6.922, 195.90 def. M. Smith, Broke;
FINAL — Krawiec, 6.858, 196.90 def. Arana Jr, 6.886, 195.48.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

TOP FUEL: 1. Steve Torrence, 1,667; 2. Antron Brown, 1,599; 3. Leah Pritchett, 1,563; 4. Tony Schumacher, 1,220; 5. Doug Kalitta, 1,126; 6. Brittany Force, 1,105; 7. Clay Millican, 1,080; 8. Terry McMillen, 770; 9. Scott Palmer, 698; 10. Shawn Langdon, 647.

FUNNY CAR: 1. Ron Capps, 1,530; 2. Robert Hight, 1,344; 3. Matt Hagan, 1,280; 4. Jack Beckman, 1,275; 5. Tommy Johnson Jr., 1,229; 6. Courtney Force, 1,072; 7. John Force, 1,007; 8. J.R. Todd, 959; 9. Tim Wilkerson, 902; 10. Cruz Pedregon, 730.

PRO STOCK: 1. Bo Butner, 1,616; 2. (tie) Greg Anderson, 1,423; Tanner Gray, 1,423; 4. Drew Skillman, 1,270; 5. Jason Line, 1,206; 6. Erica Enders, 1,093; 7. Jeg Coughlin, 1,054; 8. Vincent Nobile, 947; 9. Allen Johnson, 736; 10. Chris McGaha, 728.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: 1. LE Tonglet, 958; 2. Eddie Krawiec, 884; 3. Hector Arana Jr, 781; 4. Jerry Savoie, 768; 5. Matt Smith, 696; 6. Andrew Hines, 620; 7. Scotty Pollacheck, 611; 8. Joey Gladstone, 475; 9. Karen Stoffer, 457; 10. Angie Smith, 443.

NHRA: J.R. Todd breaks through in Funny Car in Sonoma

Photo: Kalitta Motorsports
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SONOMA, Calif. (AP) J.R. Todd became the first black winner in NHRA Funny Car history Sunday, beating Tim Wilkerson in the Sonoma Nationals.

The 35-year-old Todd, from Lawrenceburg, Indiana also joined Don Prudhomme as the only NHRA drivers to win at Sonoma Raceway in both nitro categories. Todd won nine times in Top Fuel.

Todd beat Wilkerson with a 4.049-second pass at 323.27 mph in a Toyota Camry.

“Our car showed us a lot of promise in Denver which gave us hope coming into here,” Todd said. “We’ve been struggling so bad this season. I’m just happy to win a Funny Car. I was able to win here last year in Top Fuel and to be able to come back and do it again in Funny Car is pretty special.”

Wilkerson’s Ford Shelby Mustang went up in smoke in a 6.823 at 100.26.

Steve Torrence raced to his sixth Top Fuel victory of the season, Tanner Gray topped the Pro Stock field for his third win in his rookie season, and LE Tonglet took his fifth Pro Stock Motorcycle victory of the year.

Torrence beat Antron Brown in the final with a 3.784 at 329.42. Gray had a 6.572 at 210.05 in a Chevrolet Camaro to edge points leader Bo Butner. Tonglet beat Matt Smith with a 6.783 at 197.02 on a Suzuki. Tonglet won the Mickey Thompson Tires Pro Bike Battle on Saturday.

NASCAR Truck drivers feel the earth move sitting in NHRA powerhouses

Photos courtesy Kalitta Motorsports
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Several NASCAR Camping World Truck Series drivers got to see how the other half lives – namely, their counterparts in the NHRA – on Thursday at Charlotte Motor Speedway and across the street at zMax Dragway.

To say it was an eye-opening experience is putting it mildly.

Top Fuel drag racers Shawn Langdon and Troy Coughlin Jr., as well as Funny Car driver J.R. Todd – all from one of the top teams in the NHRA, Kalitta Motorsports – are in Charlotte for this weekend’s 4-Wide Nationals at zMax Dragway.

NASCAR Trucks driver Noah Gragson gets to feel the 10,000 horsepower of a Top Fuel dragster.

Thursday, they invited NASCAR drivers Ryan Truex, Christopher Bell, Grant Enfinger and Noah Gragson to show how it’s done NHRA-style.

Todd, Langdon and Coughlin started the day taking Toyota Camry pace cars around the 1.5-mile CMS oval.

Then everyone moved across the street to see some real horsepower, namely, 10,000 horses worth – which is roughly about 13 times the power they have under the hood of their race trucks.

Truex and Bell got a chance to “warm up” Todd’s Funny Car, while Enfinger and Gragson did the same with Langdon’s Top Fueler.


Meanwhile, Todd and Langdon both did smoky burnouts that, if the Truck guys thought they could do burnouts, they learned a lot to the contrary.

“It was a cool to do a big smoky burnout,” Todd said. “It was cool to see the guys reactions. We had a great time today and I think we created several new fans.”

Added Langdon, “Days like today is what makes me love our sport even more. Bringing these guys over here and letting them hit the throttle and sit in the car when it warms up gives them a look at what we do. To see the smiles on their faces after a badass burnout and how excited they are, just gets me pumped.”

Here’s what the NASCAR guys thought about the experience.

Bell: “J.R. Todd let me sit in his Toyota Camry Funny Car and they even cracked the throttle open for me when we were warming up the motor. It is something that I will remember for the rest of my life. It is a feeling like none other.”

Enfinger: “Just a crazy experience, something I have never done. Been able to do a lot of cool things with Toyota, but it is not every day that you get to make your dad jealous.”

Gragson: “This was awesome. It was the experience of a lifetime. It was great to hang out with J.R. Todd, Shawn and Troy Jr. Definitely a cool experience; one that I will remember forever.”

Truex: “This has probably been the craziest experience that I have ever been a part of. I got to sit in a Funny Car; they hit the throttle, which really scared me. When I was outside the car, I jumped about three feet in the air. It was cool to get inside and experience that. The nitro was all in my face, and I think they gained a new fan with me today.”

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NHRA: Shawn Langdon back behind wheel of Top Fuel dragster with Kalitta Motorsports

Photo courtesy Kalitta Motorsports
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Former NHRA Top Fuel champion Shane Langdon will soon be back on track.

The 2013 champion lost his ride with Don Schumacher Racing at the end of last season due to lack of sponsorship.

But Thursday, Langdon and Kalitta Motorsports announced a partnership with new sponsor Global Electronic Technology to campaign a new Top Fuel team, the third full-time dragster in the Kalitta stable.

“I’m really excited about the opportunity to drive the Global Electronic Technology dragster,” Langdon, 34, said in a media release. “It is awesome to see new companies like Global Electronic Technology come in to drag racing and I am excited to be a part of it.”

When DSR’s ongoing efforts to gain sponsorship failed to materialize, Kalitta Motorsports was able to put together a package with GET to bring the ex-champ aboard.

“It’s been a tough year so far with me sitting on the sidelines,” Langdon said. “It has been the first time since my rookie year in 2009 that I haven’t been able to attend the NHRA races.

“I cannot thank Connie (team owner Connie Kalitta) and Jim O (team vice president Jim Oberhofer) enough for the opportunity. Kalitta has top quality cars that contend for wins and championships, so I feel that this partnership will work well.”

DSR hired Langdon with six races left in the 2015 season after Alan Johnson Racing suspended operations due to lack of sponsorship. AJR had lost its primary sponsorship from Al-Anabi Racing just weeks before the 2015 season began and self-funding lasted just 18 races before team owner Alan Johnson parked Langdon’s dragster, leading to him moving to the Schumacher camp.

Langdon was Top Fuel teammates at DSR with three-time champ Antron Brown, eight-time champ Tony Schumacher and Leah Pritchett.

DSR and Langdon had planned to continue in 2017, but lack of sponsorship forced team owner Don Schumacher to park Langdon and his dragster.

“I also want to thank Don (Schumacher) and everybody at Don Schumacher Racing for bringing me in when I didn’t have a ride and making me feel like part of the family,” Langdon said. “We did everything we could to find adequate funding, and I want to thank Don for keeping me on the payroll throughout the process of trying to find sponsorship.”

Even though he now is racing for a new team, Langdon – who has 14 career national event Top Fuel wins – still has the same goals he had at DSR and AJR.

“My focus is to contend for a championship,” he said. “We are seven rounds out of the top 10 and we have 14 races to catch up (to qualify for the six-race Countdown to the Championship NHRA playoffs) and I am confident in my chances with the group that Kalitta is putting behind me.”

Langdon now joins Doug Kalitta and Troy Coughlin as Top Fuel teammates with Kalitta Motorsports.

The addition of Langdon will cause some slight juggling within the team when it comes to crew chiefs. Jim Oberhofer will become the lead tuner on both Kalitta’s and Coughlin’s dragsters.

Troy Fasching will also team with Oberhofer on Kalitta’s car, while Glen Huszar and Nick Casertano will head J.R. Todd’s Funny Car team.

Lastly, team patriarch Connie Kalitta will oversee Langdon’s team along with Rob Flynn.

Kalitta Motorsports also fields the Funny Car teams of Todd and Alexis DeJoria.

The team will make its first race two weeks at the next NHRA SpringNationals, April 21-23, at Royal Purple Raceway in suburban Houston.

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