Toyota’s Brown Drives To NHRA SpringNationals Finals

Mark Rebilas Photo

Antron Brown drove his Matco Tools Toyota dragster to his first final round of the season before falling to Brittany Force in Sunday’s NHRA SpringNationals at Houston Raceway Park. It marked the sixth time that Brown has reached the SpringNationals finals, five coming in Top Fuel and once in Pro Stock Motorcycle.

Brown kicked off the day with a holeshot victory over Mike Salinas on a holeshot and then dispatched Leah Pritchett in the second round. That set up a match-up with Steve Torrence in the semifinals, where Brown had a .007 advantage at the tree and went on to win on a holeshot by just .0056 seconds (approximately three feet). 

In the finals, the two were side-by-side at the track, but Brown started to haze the tires just past the midway point, giving Force the victory.

“All in all, It was a good day for the Matco Tools/Toyota/Pennzoil race team today,” said the three-time world champion. “We’ve been going through a lot of adversity and we’ve just been fighting through it as a unit together. Today, people saw what we are capable of. It feels good just to get back to what’s been the norm. We still have a ways to go, but we’re just going to keep on working and keep our heads down and everything’s going to be just fine.

“We can take this run today and build a little momentum and go to Charlotte and start where we left off here. We just need to keep getting better. That’s the name of the game. It’s still early in the season and we want to keep improving the car. I’m proud of my boys. They were up late Saturday night where they rebuilt the whole clutch system. Now the car is doing the things we want it to do. We’re on the road to recovery and we’re going to keep pressing. Now we need to get back to qualifying in the top five. With as tight and tough as the class is, if you can do that you’re going to have good days.”

Also in Top Fuel, Doug Kalitta advanced with a victory over Terry McMillen before falling to Force in the second round. Richie Crampton fell to Clay Millican in round one.

Both Toyota Camry Funny Car drivers advanced to the second-round today. J.R. Todd defeated Jim Campbell before losing to eventual winner Robert Hight in the second round, despite running the third-quickest pass of the round.  

“We had a great car all weekend long, but it was difficult keeping up with the changing weather conditions,” said Todd. 
We had a good consistent car, we just came up short in the second round.”

His Kalitta Motorsports teammate Shawn Langdon earned an opening round win over Cruz Pedregon. He would eventually fall to Ron Capps in round two.

The 2019 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series is off on Easter weekend before returning April 26-28 with the NGK Spark Plugs Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway in Charlotte. 

Top Fuel NHRA SpringNationals ResultsQual/Finish
Antron BrownMatco Tools Toyota Top Fuel Dragster           11/Finals
Doug KalittaToyota Top Fuel Dragster8/Round 2
Richie CramptonCRAFTSMAN Toyota Top Fuel Dragster13/Round 1
Funny Car  
J.R. ToddDHL Toyota Camry Funny Car4/Round 2
Shawn LangdonGlobal Electronic Technology Toyota Camry FC10/Round 2

2019 Toyota Wins (3)

Top Fuel (2) – Kalitta, Pomona1, Crampton, Gainesville

Funny Car (1) – Todd, Las Vegas1

Notes:

 Antron Brown drove to his first final round of the season today and it’s the second time he’s advanced to the semifinals or beyond in 2019. He has now made 122 final round appearances during his Mello Yello Drag Racing Series career, with six of those coming at the SpringNationals – 2019, 2014, 2012, 2010, 2008 and 2004 (Pro Stock Motorcycles). 

– Doug Kalitta continues to lead the Top Fuel point standings and will take a 23-point lead into the next event at Charlotte. Antron Brown climbed up to seventh, while Richie Crampton is ninth. In Funny Car, J.R. Todd moved up to third, while Shawn Langdon currently sits tenth.

Driver Quotes:

Antron Brown, Matco Tools Toyota Top Fuel Dragster:“All in all, it was a good day for the Matco Tools/Toyota/Pennzoil race team today. We’ve been going through a lot of adversity and we’ve just been fighting through it as a unit together. Today, people saw what we are capable of. It feels good just to get back to what’s been the norm. We still have a ways to go, but we’re just going to keep on working and keep our heads down and everything’s going to be just fine. 

“We can take this run today and build a little momentum and go to Charlotte and start where we left off here. We just need to keep getting better. That’s the name of the game. It’s still early in the season and we want to keep improving the car. I’m proud of my boys. They were up late Saturday night where they rebuilt the whole clutch system. Now the car is doing the things we want it to do. We’re on the road to recovery and we’re going to keep pressing. Now we need to get back to qualifying in the top five. With as tight and tough as the class is, if you can do that you’re going to have good days.”

J.R. Todd, DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car: “We had a great car all weekend long, but it was difficult keeping up with the changing weather conditions. We had a good consistent car, we just came up short in the second round.”

Doug Kalitta, Toyota Top Fuel Dragster: “We had two good runs, but we just didn’t have enough in that second round against Brittany Force. I’m really proud of all of my Toyota dragster guys. They did a really good job and now we get a week off to prepare for the Charlotte Four-Wides.”

Richie Crampton, DHL Toyota Top Fuel Dragster: “We had a good weekend of racing, we just came up a little short on race day. All things considered we’re still moving in the right direction. We’re still doing what we need to do in qualifying, but now we need to put it back together again on race day. It’s going to be interesting going back to another Four-Wide race next, but I know we’re going to run well in Charlotte, so I’m pretty excited to get there and get the ball rolling.”

Toyota DriversFunny Car Points Behind Leader (476)2019Wins2019W-L Career RacesCareerWinsCareer W-L
3. J.R. Todd341 (-135)17-420518218-186
10. Shawn Langdon223 (-243)03-523714266-220
Top Fuel (372)     
1. Doug Kalitta 372 (Leader)110-449445662-442
7. Antron Brown 278 (-94)05-541166707-342
9. Richie Crampton264 (-108)15-4108993-100

Toyota Drivers NHRA SpringNationals Eliminations Round-by-Round


Top Fuel
Rd 1 Win-LossRd 2 Win-LossSemis Win-LossFinals Win-Loss
BrownW – Salinas,3.735-3.727W – Pritchett,3.750-Rd Lt.W – S. Torrence,3.746-3.744L – Force,3.749-3.995
KalittaW – McMillen,3.764-.3784L – Force,3.678-3.744** **
CramptonL – Millican,3.765-9.035** ****
Funny CarRd 1 Win-Loss   
ToddW – Campbell,3.930-8.381L – Hight,3.914-3.940** **
LangdonW – Pedregon,3.944-4.335L – Capps,3.938-3.983****

Toyota Racing PR

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