First off, I need to apologize for not writing you before our last race in Charlotte this past weekend. I have no excuse…I just dropped the ball and forgot to write you. I guess I could have used the excuse that I don’t like the 4 wide racing and didn’t want to write about it. No matter what, we were able to race, and I guess in the end that’s all that really matters.
Going into Charlotte, we finally got the new Toyota Camry body ready for Jeff’s DHL ride, which was the last step in making the DHL and Tequila Patron Toyota”s as identical as possible. On the first qualifying run, Jeff spun the tires and was just idling down the track when all of the sudden he was dodging parts from Matt Hagan’s car, which exploded into a million pieces. Jeff did his best to show off his road course driving skills, but just couldn’t avoid everything that was coming his way. It figures, one tire smoking run, and the new Toyota Camry was damaged, so for the second run, Jeff and the DHL Team had to bring out the old Toyota Camry. On that second run, a clutch fitting broke, which caused the DHL Toyota to see way to much clutch early, and with that fitting breaking, it put clutch fluid underneath one of the rear tires, which gave Jeff another interesting ride. With the guys working late, the new Toyota Camry was ready to make another go at it on Saturday. On the first run on Saturday, the DHL Toyota spun the tires right at the step, which meant Jeff was not in the show going into the last qualifying session. On that last qualifying session, Nicky, Jon O and Del got together and put in a tuneup that they felt would get Jeff in the show. At the start, all looked good for Jeff, and the DHL Toyota appeared to be making a nice run, but at about 700 feet, we noticed something that came off the DHL Toyota, which caused it to make a pretty abrupt move to the right. What came off was the right side spill plate from the rear wing. Jeff had his hands full, but he did everything he could to keep the car off the wall and straight, which could not have been easy. In the end, Jeff ran a 4.205 at 297, which tied us with Matt Hagan for the 16th spot, the good news was that Matt only ran 291 mph on his run, so Jeff and the DHL boys got into the show based on the faster speed. I have to give Jeff a lot of credit for his driving on that run, if he would have lifted just a bit sooner, the DHL Toyota would not have been racing on Sunday, good job Jeff!
While Jeff and the DHL Team had all of the excitement they could stand, Alexis and her Tequila Patron Toyota had a pretty uneventful Friday and Saturday. Alexis and her Del Worsham led team ran a couple of nice runs in qualifying, with a 4.13 being her best time, which put her in the number 11 spot. I can tell you that Del is really starting to get a handle on the Tequila Patron Toyota, and Alexis keeps getting more and more comfortable, which should lead to some big things out of the Patron car! On race day, Alexis would line up against Mike Neff, Johnny Gray and Blake Alexander, and Jeff would be up against, Robert Hight, Bob Tasca and Tim Wilkerson in his “quad”.
Over in Team Kalitta Top Fuel world, Grubby and his Optima Batteries Dragster, were looking at building off of their success they had in Vegas, and seeing if that would translate into some more rounds wins. In qualifying, Grubby ran a nice 3.86 on Friday night, which put him in the number 10 spot for race day. Grubbies first round “quad” would consist of Brandon Bernstein, Dom Lagana and Kahlid alBalooshi. Doug and his Kalitta Air Dragster struggled a bit in Friday qualifying, which meant that the Kalitta Air Dragster was not qualified going into Saturday. On Saturdays first run, Doug ran a nice 3.88 at 317 mph, which put Doug in the number 12 spot for race day. Doug’s first round “quad” consisted of Tony Schumacher, Shawn Langdon and Terry McMillen.
On race day, Doug’s quad was up first, and with the sun staying behind the clouds, we needed to step up our performance with the Kalitta Air Dragster if we were going to make it to the next round. At the start of a 4 wide race, it is hard to figure out what is going on, but I could tell that Langdon had problems right away, and that Terry McMillen was having problems as well. Doug ran a nice 3.83 at 322, which was good enough for us to finish second in that quad. The top two finishers from each quad advance to the next round, so it was Doug and Tony Schumacher that advanced. Grubby was up next in his quad, and I have to tell you that Connie and Grubby are really starting to get a handle on the Optima Batteries Dragster, and with the cool racetrack conditions that we had for first round, I looked for a good run out of the Optima Dragster. At the start, Grubby had a great reaction time, and never looked back! At the finish line, Grubby ran a real nice 3.81 at over 326 mph, which is a Team Kalitta best! Cool deal, both Kalitta Dragsters were off to the second round!
In the first round of Funny Car, Alexis was up first. At the start, Alexis and her Patron Toyota, made a nice move and looked to be running very well for about 500 feet, but at that point, the Patron machine struck the tires, ending Alexis’ day. I know that Del was pretty bummed about spinning the tires, but he has made a lot of progress in the last few races, and I see that continuing down the road! Jeff was up next in his DHL Toyota, and unfortunately, Jeff struck the tires sooner than Alexis, ending the DHL Team’s day. After Del spoke to Connie, Connie agreed to let Del, Nicky and Jon O stay and test some new clutch parts with the DHL car on Monday. After hearing some of the results from testing, it sounds like it was a very successful test!
In the second round, Grubby was up first, and his quad consisted of Brandon Bernstein, Spencer Massey and Antron Brown. At the start, Grubby had another good reaction time, but unfortunately, the Optima Batteries Dragster spun the tires right away, which ended Grubbies day. In Doug’s second round quad, he was up against Tony Schumacher, Bob Vandergriff and Steve Torrence. At the start, both Vandergriff and Torrence spun the tires right away, as both Doug and Tony stayed hooked up, and moved into the final round! On that run, the Kalitta Air Dragster dropped a cylinder at about 1.5 seconds, which caused some pretty extensive engine damage.
In the final round, Doug was up against the entire Don Schumacher Team, which consists of Tony Schumacher, Antron Brown and Spencer Massey. With the track conditions changing, we knew we were going to need to run very well if we were going to take out the Schumacher bunch. At the start, I could tell right away that we were in trouble, as the Kalitta Air Dragster had way to much wheel speed at the step, and I could see some white smoke off of the tires, which is never a good sign! Shortly after that, the Kalitta Air Dragster lost traction, and our day was done. I feel pretty good about our progress as of late, but there is so much we need to work on if we want to win. Either way, I feel that the whole Kalitta Team is going in the right direction!
Well, that’s all from me, take care everyone and I hope you all have a great week!