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Kalitta Motorsports dominated Top Fuel at the Finals, sweeping the first two qualifying spots for the first time in over two years. J.R. Todd qualified at the top of the list with a career-best and track record 3.680 at 327.82 mph. Doug Kalitta was right behind at 3.709/327.90. The order would be reversed for the finish.
Kalitta’s first opponent on Sunday was Shawn Reed. Kalitta was solid on the tree, and the Mac Tools dragster was solid downtrack with a 3.755-second pass to Reed’s troubled 4.774. The winning ways continued in the second round with Kalitta leaving on Tony Schumacher and leading all the way to the stripe, 3.742/328.86 to 3.778/324.90 for Schumacher. That round win, Kalitta's 587th, was enough to move him to the top ten all-time in NHRA history and clinch a top two spot in the standings for the Mac Tools team.
The second pair of the semis, Kalitta watched his teammate, J.R. Todd, earn a finals berth and the Mac Tools driver beat Shawn Langdon off of the line and led wire-to-wire, earning Team Kalitta their second all-Kalitta Top Fuel final of the season.
In the final, the Mac Tools driver left first on the starting line and got his fourth win of the season and first Auto Club Finals trophy defeating his teammate on a holeshot. It was his fourth win of the season; the most he has earned since 2006. He also earned his top points placement since the 2006 season.
“I am so proud to drive this Mac Tools dragster,” Kalitta said. “I have a heck of a group, Jim O, Troy, this entire team is awesome. The guys worked so hard, and to close the season with a win is great. This is a trophy I have been chasing for a long time, and I am so glad to earn it. I am a winner till the Winternationals and I am so excited to close the season on a high note."
J.R. Todd and the SealMaster team were stout throughout qualifying. Connie Kalitta and Rob Flynn tuned the SealMaster ride to the second-best pass of the first session, but really laid down a jaw dropping pass in the heat of Saturday afternoon. Todd drove the SealMaster ride from start-to-finish in an incredible 3.680 seconds. That reset Todd's career-best and also gave him the Auto Club Raceway track record. It is tied for the fifth-best run in NHRA history.
Todd was the recipient of consecutive red-light gifts from Troy Buff and Richie Crampton in the first two rounds.
Taking on the new champion Antron Brown in the semi-finals for the third consecutive race, the SealMaster team laid down low elapsed time of the round with an incredible 3.708-second pass to earn lane choice over his teammate, Kalitta, in the final. It was Todd's second straight final, sixth of the season and 19th of his career.
“I believe we definitely had the car to beat all weekend, we just screwed up in the final on the starting line and let one get away,” Todd said. “It was a mistake (in lane choice due to the sun), but we can’t make any excuses, you’ve got go up there and be a pro and hit the gas on time.
“Hopefully this is a sign of things to come for next year,” Todd continued. “The performance of the car over the last three races has really come around. It’s a shame we didn’t start off the Countdown the way we finished. I think we’ve definitely got a championship caliber team here and hopefully we’ll go out and win a handful of races before the Countdown next year and set ourselves up in a better position.”