Todd rebounds in Gateway
Race Recap: After a rough start to the Countdown in Charlotte, Todd and the SealMaster team were looking to go rounds at Gateway Motorsports Park.
After just missing out on the bonus points in both the second and third qualifying sessions, Todd laid down a stellar pass in the final qualifying pass. Crew chiefs Connie Kalitta and Rob Flynn guided Todd to a 3.750 second pass that bumped Todd all the way up to the third qualified spot and two bonus points.
Todd's first opponent was Kyle Wurtzel. Wurtzel, competing in his fourth event of the season, made some solid passes to get his way into the 16-car qualified field. However, Todd got off of the line first and continued to drive away from Wurtzel scoring his first 2016 Countdown round win. Todd and the SealMaster team did not end there. They exacted a little revenge on the driver that took them out just one week ago: Pat Dakin. Todd's SealMaster Toyota Top Fuel dragster ran 3.798, which was enough to get around Dakin's 3.827. That sent Todd to his seventh semi-final or better in the last nine events.
Unfortunately for the SealMaster team, the semi-finals are were it ended. Todd had a solid reaction time off of the starting line, but his opponent, Tony Schumacher, steadily pulled away stopping the SealMaster driver from reaching his fifth final round of the season.
Qualified: No. 3 (3.750 sec., 321.80 mph)
Quotable: "We were hoping to rebound with a win today but we did gain some ground on the top spot with this SealMaster Toyota team. The guys are working hard and are focused. We will go home for a couple days and plan to run hard at Maple Grove."
Point Standings: Seventh (-106); trails sixth-place Steve Torrence by nine points, leads eighth-place Richie Crampton by 25 points
Kalitta closes on points lead
Race Recap: Kalitta returned to Gateway sporting new colors as the traditionally red and white Mac Tools dragster turned to the yellow and black DEWALT FLEXVOLT machine for the next two races.
Kalitta was stellar in qualifying. He earned six bonus points throughout the weekend and started fourth overall with his 3.752 second pass which he ran in Friday evening's session. However, the DEWALT FLEXVOLT dragster was consistent in the heat of Saturday as well earning bonus points in each session.
The fourth qualifying spot meant Kalitta would draw the 13th seeded Terry McMillen and the DEWALT FLEXVOLT team was ready. The Jim Oberhofer tune-up gave Kalitta low elapsed time of round one and reset his own top speed of the weekend with their 328.22mph effort.
A dropped cylinder meant Kalitta's day would end in round two, but Kalitta closed the Brown's points lead to just 13 points heading into the third race of the NHRA Countdown for the Championship.
Qualified: No. 4 (3.752 sec., 325.92 mph)
Quotable: “It's disappointing to go out in the second round because we thought the DEWALT FLEXVOLT Toyota was capable of winning today. We were very solid in qualifying and, in the end, we gained some decent points today and only 13 out of the lead heading into Reading. Maple Grove qualifying starts in five days and that's where our focus needs to be."
Point Standings: Second (-13); trails first-place Antron Brown by 13 points, leads third-place Tony Schumacher by 31 point
Worsham suffers his first opening round defeat since July
Race Recap: Worsham came into St. Louis as the defending race winner and looking for his fourth Gateway win. The DHL team, led by Jon Oberhofer and Nicky Boninfante, were strong off of the trailer. The DHL Toyota Camry ran a 3.970 second pass in the first qualifying pass, earning two bonus points. He added two more bonus points and qualified solidly in the top half of the field. Worsham's reward: John Force.
Worsham and Force were the seventh pair to see the drag strip. The driver of the DHL Toyota Camry left the line first, but Force drove around him by the finish line to end Worsham's streak of six straight semi-final finishes of better.
Qualified: No. 7 (3.929 sec., 324.75 mph)
Quotable: "Tough day for this DHL Toyota team. We had a solid pass, but just got out run. To lose in the first round is not fun. We are down, but we know we still have a shot. Reading is always fast. We will head there and plan to rebound."
Point Standings: Fifth (-84); trails with fourth-place John Force by 10 points, leads sixth place Matt Hagan by 12 points
Early exit for DeJoria, Patrón team
Race Recap: The second of three straight races for DeJoria saw a Saturday celebration as the team celebrated her birthday. On the race track, DeJoria just missed qualifying in the top half. Her Patrón-backed Toyota Camry Funny Car was a part of the last pair to see the race track in the Funny Car class with her opponent, Tommy Johnson Jr. DeJoria ran a solid 3.985, but Johnson Jr. ran his quickest pass of the weekend to defeat the Countdown driver in round one.
Qualified: No. 9 (3.945 sec., 323.19 mph)
Point Standings: 10th (-205); trails ninth-place Tim Wilkerson by 76 points\
Top Fuel (Unofficial)
1. Antron Brown (2258)
2. Doug Kalitta (2245)
3. Tony Schumacher (2204)
4. Shawn Langdon (2181)
5. Brittany Force (2167)
6. Steve Torrence (2161)
7. J.R. Todd (2152)
8. Richie Crampton (2127)
9. Leah Pritchett (2107)
10. Clay Millican (2084)
Funny Car (Unofficial)
1. Ron Capps (2273)
2. Tommy Johnson Jr. (2225)
3. Jack Beckman (2203)
4. John Force (2199)
5. Del Worsham (2189)
6. Matt Hagan (2177)
7. Robert Hight (2159)
8. Courtney Force (2149)
9. Tim Wilkerson (2144)
10. Alexis DeJoria (2068)