Kalitta Leads Toyota At Bristol NHRA

Jason Zindroski Photo

Doug Kalitta advanced to the Top Fuel semifinals to lead Toyota at the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway, Sunday. The race marked Kalitta’s 500th in NHRA Top Fuel competition.

Kalitta, who earned his 50th number one qualifier on Saturday, had the advantage at the tree and never trailed in an opening round win over Cameron Fere, to set up a wild second round match-up with Terry McMillen. It appeared Kalitta’s day was going to be over when he was up in smoke right at the hit, but McMillen smoked the tires around 150 feet. Kalitta pedaled it and chased McMillen down right in the lights for the win with a speed at the top end more than 100 mph faster than his opponent.

Kalitta would have a much better run in the semifinals against Mike Salinas, but wasn’t quite quick enough as eventual event winner Mike Salinas would win 3.817 to 3.887. 

“We really would have liked to get a win in our 500th race, but we just fell a little short in the semifinals,” said Kalitta. “All in all, it was a good weekend. My Mac Tools Toyota guys gave me a great car in some tough conditions. We picked up our 50th number one qualifier and we keep going rounds. We were really fortunate in that second round. We went up in smoke at the hit, but I looked down there and McMillen was having problems and we were able to run him down. If you’re going to go rounds in this sport, you have to some lucky ones and that one was ours. Now we have to get ready for Norwalk in a couple days.”

Antron Brown advanced to the second round today with a win over Audrey Worm in the first round, but was up in smoke at the hit on the second round against Salinas.  


Rounding out the Toyota Top Fuel contingent, Richie Crampton had a solid pass going in the opening run until smoking the tires before the 600-foot mark and fell to McMillen.

In Funny Car, both Shawn Langdon and J.R. Todd drove their Toyota Camrys to the second round. Langdon, who qualified second, defeated Jeff Diehl in the first round and then lost a close contest with Ron Capps in round two while running a 4.08 in rising afternoon temperatures.

Todd ran an impressive 4.048 in a win over Terry Haddock in round one, and then held an early lead in the second round against Jack Beckman before smoking the tires at the 300-foot mark.

The Mello Yello Drag Racing Series concludes a four-races-in-four-weeks portion of the schedule next weekend with the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals at the Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio, June 21-23. 

Top Fuel NHRA Bristol ResultsQual/Finish
Doug KalittaMac Tools Toyota Top Fuel Dragster1/Semis
Antron BrownMatco Tools Toyota Top Fuel Dragster           4/Rd. 2
Richie CramptonDHL Toyota Top Fuel Dragster9/Rd. 1
Funny Car  
Shawn LangdonGlobal Electronic Technology Toyota Camry FC2/Rd. 2
J.R. ToddDHL Toyota Camry Funny Car5/Rd. 2

2019 Toyota Wins (4)

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

Funny Car (2) – Todd, Las Vegas1; Langdon, Charlotte1

Notes:

– Today marked the second time in the last three races that Doug Kalitta advanced to the semifinals. He has now advanced to the semis or beyond five times this season, including a season-opening win at the Winternationals in Pomona.

– With seven races remaining in the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series regular season, all five Toyota-sponsored drivers continue to be on pace to make the Countdown to the Championship playoffs. Doug Kalitta continues to sit second in the Top Fuel point standings, with Antron Brown in fourth and Richie Crampton in eighth. In Funny Car, J.R. Todd slipped to the sixth spot, while Shawn Langdon stands tenth.

Driver Quotes:

Doug Kalitta, Toyota Top Fuel Dragster: “We really would have liked to get a win in our 500th race, but we just fell a little short in the semifinals. All in all, it was a good weekend. My Mac Tools Toyota guys gave me a great car in some tough conditions. We picked up our 50th number one qualifier and we keep going rounds. We were really fortunate in that second round. We went up in smoke at the hit, but I looked down there and McMillen was having problems and we were able to run him down. If you’re going to go rounds in this sport, you have to some lucky ones and that one was ours. Now we have to get ready for Norwalk in a couple days.”

Antron Brown, Matco Tools Toyota Top Fuel Dragster“This is a demanding track, and when you’re able to pull out a win here, you feel like you’ve done something special. We’re working hard. We qualified where we wanted to qualify at. We just need to get our strategy right. Our car wants to go really quick now. We’ve been working on making it aggressive early. We backed it down today, but we just didn’t back it down enough, and the track showed it to us. Nobody in the right lane made it past the starting line in the second Top Fuel session. Everyone smoked the tires right away. Our competitors went down there and ran a 3.90 (in round two) and got the job done. We’ve got Norwalk next week, and we’ll get right back after it. We’re still fourth in points and it’s a tight battle right now, There’s still a lot of racing left. We’re going to keep pushing, and keep marching forward.”

J.R. Todd, DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car: (How hard is it race the conditions at Bristol?) “If it was easy, you’d have a lot more cars out here. It wasn’t the conditions that beat us today. Other cars were getting down the track. We don’t have any excuses. We smoked the tires. It’s hard to negotiate when the heat goes up, but other cars did it. We just missed it in the second round. Now we have to put it behind us and be ready for Norwalk in five days.”

Richie Crampton, DHL Toyota Top Fuel Dragster: (On the first round vs. Terry McMillen) “I got caught out on the starting line and was late and then smoked the tires down the track It was definitely there for the taking. There’s no way we should have let Terry McMillen win with a 4.04. It just wasn’t our day. It definitely wasn’t what we were looking for. I haven’t been driving as well as I should be, I’m not sure if it would have mattered today or not. Whatever the case, fortunately, the other people we are fighting with in the point standings are struggling as well.”

Toyota DriversFunny Car Points Behind Leader (990)2019Wins2019W-L Career RacesCareerWinsCareer W-L
6. J.R. Todd711 (-279)114-1021118225-192
10. Shawn Langdon528 (-462)18-1024315271-225
Top Fuel (1048)     
2. Doug Kalitta709 (-339)116-1050045668-448
4. Antron Brown676 (-372)014-1141766717-348
8. Richie Crampton499 (-549)17-10114995-106

Toyota Drivers NHRA Bristol Eliminations Round-by-Round

Top FuelRd 1 Win-LossRd 2 Win-LossSemis Win-Loss
BrownW – Worm.3.863-4.082L – Salinas,3.908-6.602**
KalittaW – Ferre,3.844-4.124W – McMillen,5.010-5.103L – Salinas,3.817-3.887
CramptonL – McMillen,4.045-4.781****
Funny CarRd 1 Win-Loss Rd 2 Win-LossSemis Win-Loss
LangdonW – Diehl,4.099-6.528L – Capps,4.039-4.080**
ToddW – Haddock,4.048-4.217L – Beckman4.076-4.397**

TOYOTA RACING PR

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