Todd Drives Camry To Seventh Final Round in Last Nine NHRA Events

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Toyota Funny Car driver J.R. Todd advanced to his seventh final round in the last nine NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series events before eventually falling to Matt Hagan in Sunday’s finals at the Magic Dry Organic Absorbent NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in suburban Phoenix.

After qualifying fifth, Todd defeated Terry Haddock in the first round and Tommy Johnson in round two to set up a match-up with rival Robert Hight in the semifinals. Todd had a big starting line advantage and never trailed, running his best time (3.919) of the day and fastest speed (327.19 mph) of the weekend. With Todd and Hagan registering times just .003 seconds apart in the semis it set up what seemed to be an epic final, but Todd appeared to have an ignition problem at the light and the car was unable to leave the starting line.

“That was not the way you want to close out the weekend,” said Todd, the reigning Funny Car world champion. “We had a nice run in Q3 to put us in a pretty good position coming into today. We got lucky in the first round and were able to win a pedal fest. We had a good car in beating Tommy Johnson in round two and then my guys gave me a great Camry in the semifinals to outrun Robert (Hight). We’re still not certain what happened in the final round. We hit the gas and it just didn’t go. On the bright side, it was a good points weekend and to make our seventh final round in the last nine races is hard to even imagine. I can’t say enough about all these DHL Toyota Camry guys. Now we just have to figure out what happened, fix it and get ready for Gainesville.”

Fellow Camry driver Shawn Langdon advanced to the second round today with a win over Cruz Pedregon with a 3.911-second pass before being defeated by Hagan in round two.

Antron Brown led the way in Top Fuel as he reached the semifinals today. He out-ran defending series champion Steve Torrence in his opening run, then knocked off Austin Prock in the second round. In the semifinals, he matched up with teammate Leah Pritchett who used her quickest pass of the weekend to defeat Brown.

“Overall, it was a good day,” said Brown, a three-time world champion. “Anytime that you make it to the semifinals it was a good race. We would have loved to win it. I feel that we’re in a good position and we could do a lot of winning in our Matco Tools/Toyota DSR dragster this year. We just have to keep moving forward.”


Doug Kalitta, who entered the event as the Top Fuel point leader, raced past Jim Maroney in round one, only to lose by .001 of a second in the second round to Jordan Vandergriff, 3.734 to 3.735.  

Richie Crampton had a slight starting line advantage and held the lead until around half track when his DHL Toyota dragster started to haze the tires and was eliminated by Terry McMillen in the first round.

The 2019 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series returns to action at the 50thannual Amalie Oil NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway March 15-17.

Funny Car NHRA Arizona Nationals ResultsQual/Finish
J.R. ToddDHL Toyota Camry Funny Car5/Finals
Shawn LangdonGlobal Electronic Technology Toyota Camry FC7/Rd. 2
Top Fuel  
Antron BrownMatco Tools Toyota Top Fuel Dragster           3/Semifinals
Doug KalittaMac Tools Toyota Top Fuel Dragster5/Rd. 2
Richie CramptonCRAFTSMAN Toyota Top Fuel Dragster15/Rd. 1

2019 Toyota Wins (1)

Top Fuel (1) – Kalitta, Pomona1

Notes:

– Today’s race marked the seventh final round appearance for J.R. Todd in the last nine Funny Car races. Dating back to last year’s U.S. Nationals, Todd has registered xx wins, seven total final rounds and has advanced to the semifinals or beyond in eight of nine races.

– By advancing to the finals today, J.R. Todd jumped from 11thto sixth in the Funny Car standings. Teammate Shawn Langdon currently sits eight. In Top Fuel, Doug Kalitta slipped one spot to second, while Antron Brown is seventh.

Driver Quotes:

J.R. Todd, DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car: “That was not the way you want to close out the weekend. We had a nice run in Q3 to put us in a pretty good position coming into today. We got lucky in the first round and were able to win a pedal fest. We had a good car in beating Tommy Johnson in round two and then my guys gave me a great Camry in the semifinals to outrun Robert (Hight). We’re still not certain what happened in the final round. We hit the gas and it just didn’t go. On the bright side, it was a good points weekend and to make our seventh final round in the last nine races is hard to even imagine. I can’t say enough about all these DHL Toyota Camry guys. Now we just have to figure out what happened, fix it and get ready for Gainesville.”

Antron Brown, Matco Tools Toyota Top Fuel Dragster:“Overall, it was a good day. Anytime that you make it to the semifinals it was a good race. We would have loved to win it. I feel that we’re in a good position and we could do a lot of winning in our Matco Tools/Toyota DSR dragster this year. We just have to keep moving forward. I think we’ve got all the right people. Our time is coming. We qualified well again and made it to the semifinals. Our next race is at Gainesville and our mindset is to be better. If we can be better, we’ll be winning soon. We had some parts issues and some different things this weekend that we have behind us. We need to keep tightening things up and we’ll be right where we need to be at the right time to contend for a championship.”

Doug Kalitta, Mac Tools Toyota Top Fuel Dragster: “We got beat in the second round in a close race. I just needed to be up on the wheel a little higher to get a better light. It’s just one of those days. My Mac Tools Toyota boys had the car running good with a nice 3.73. You can’t complain there. We were trying to get Connie (Kalitta) the win today on his birthday, but we’ll have to save it for next time.”

Toyota DriversFunny Car Points Behind Leader (205)2019Wins2019W-L Career RacesCareerWinsCareer W-L
6. Todd126 (-79)03-220216214-181
8. Langdon111 (-94)02-223414265-217
Top Fuel (178)     
2. Kalitta172 (-6)15-149145657-439
7. Brown115 (-63)02-240866704-339
12. Crampton66 (-112)00-2105888-98

Toyota Drivers NHRA Arizona Nationals Eliminations Round-by-Round

Funny CarRd 1 Win-LossRd 2 Win-LossSemis Win-LossFinals Win-Loss
ToddW – Haddock,4.655-4.667W – Johnson,3.967-5.048W – Hight,3.919-3.922L – Hagan,3.890-No Time
LangdonW – Pedregon,3.911-5.244L – Hagan,3.894-3.951xxxx
Top FuelRd 1 Win-LossRd 2 Win-LossSemis Win-LossFinals Win-Loss
BrownW – S. Torrence,3.728-3.930W – Prock,4.198-4.389L – Pritchett,3.721-3.763xx
KalittaW – Maroney,3.741-6.447L – Vandergriff3.734-3.735xxxx
CramptonL – McMillen,3/826-4.061xxxxxx

Toyota Racing PR

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