Thursday, June 20, 2024

Kalitta announcement: Paul Lee joins the team

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By Anthony Caruso III

Kalitta Motorsports announced that they’re going to have a third Funny Car in the field for the final four races at a 3 pm PST announcement on the NHRA’s Facebook Live page from Sonoma Raceway. Paul Lee will be the driver of the car when it debuts later this year.

Lee will be driving the McLeod sponsored car — and he admitted that he could win with this move. He bought former DHL equipment from Kalitta’s team with the move first being talked about in January.

Paul Lee (Photo by the NHRA)
Paul Lee (Photo by the NHRA)

“I don’t know if I could put it into words,” he said. “I was 13 when I went to my first drag race and saw Nitro Funny Cars; I knew that’s what I wanted to do. I’ve been working my whole life in a goal of winning races and winning championships some day. This is the best opportunity of my life … and I’m excited to work with this family, because that’s exactly what it is.”

The former New Jersey racer has been racing sparingly since 2005 when he got licensed in a Funny Car. He received his first round-win in Charlotte of 2010.

When he debuts, he’ll be driving the McLeod Racing Toyota Funny Car, which would make it the 10th Toyota NHRA driver when he comes out for a race in late Sept. Kalitta Motorsports are all Toyota-sponsored drivers. 

His first race with his new team will be the NHRA Keystone Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway in Mohnton, PA. He’ll then go to the Texas Motorplex, before The Strip in Las Vegas and the World Finals at Pomona in Nov.

Lee admitted that it’ll be on him to secure 2017 funding. 

Lee used to be a fixture racing at The Grove in his early career when he used to race regularly there, Atco Dragway and Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown, N.J. Now, he resides in Anaheim Hills, Calif.

When Lee joins Kalitta’s teams later this season, he’ll be their third Funny Car driver. They also have th aforementioned Worsham and Alexis DeJoria, who drives the Tequlia Patron Funny Car.

This will be the first-time ever that Kalitta Motorsports will commission five cars at the same time. They have three Funny Cars, along with Doug Kalitta and J.R. Todd in their Top Fuel dragsters.

“It’s going to be a lot of work for sure,” crew chief and Kalitta Racing GM Jim Oberhofer. “I remember when we talked about expanding to two cars and then three. It’s an honor to work with Paul Lee. Paul will own the car, but we will service the car with good and proven parts. This will help both of us. This car will not be filler; it will be capable of winning.”

According to the NHRA, he has three career wins in a Top Alcohol Funny Car in four career wounds. His best elapsed time (E.T.) is 4.037, while his best speed is 309.63.

Anthony Caruso III
Anthony Caruso III
Anthony Caruso III is the Publisher of The Capital Sports Report. He has been in the Journalism field since August 2002. Since that time, Mr. Caruso has covered many marquee events. This includes 13 Heisman Trophy ceremonies, 2 Little World Series events, and one Army-Navy College Football game.
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