In the final NHRA event at Atlanta Dragway, it was only fitting that the series all-time Top Fuel win leader at the track would close it out with a victory and that’s exactly what Antron Brown did in defeating Steve Torrence in the final round to earn his fifth Lucas Oil NHRA Southern Nationals Top Fuel victory Sunday. In the process, Brown tied Joe Amato for third all-time in career NHRA Top Fuel wins with 52.
The victory is the second for Brown in the last four races as he also defeated Torrence in the 2020 season finale at Las Vegas.
The Matco Tools/Toyota/Sirius XM driver opened his day with a victory over fellow Toyota driver Doug Kalitta. Brown had a slight advantage on the tree, then opened up a lead through the 600’ mark before Kalitta started to close back up, but it wasn’t enough as Brown won 3.793-3.800 with a margin of victory of .017 seconds. In round two against pole-sitter Billy Torrence, Brown had a sizable lead in reaction time (.038 seconds) and then out-ran him the rest of the way, winning by .047 seconds.
With the win, Brown advanced to the semifinals where he faced off with Brittany Force. Once again, Brown had a clear advantage on the tree (by .028) and it would prove to be the difference as Force registered the quicker time (3.785-3.786), but Brown won handily by .027 seconds. That would set up a head-to-head match-up with Steve Torrence for the second time in the last three two-wide races with Brown having defeated him in the finals in the season finale in 2020 at Las Vegas.
Brown had a slight advantage on the tree, but then proceeded to run his quickest pass (3.752 seconds at 325.22 mph) in defeating Torrence by .045 seconds.
Brown wasn’t the only Toyota driver to have some success on Sunday, Despite battling the difficult track conditions all weekend, Shawn Langdon still registered a solid day on Sunday, advancing to the semifinals before being eliminated by Torrence. He defeated Leah Pruett in his opening round matchup and then dispatched Mike Salinas in round two. He leaves Atlanta third in Top Fuel points.
J.R. Todd also had a strong weekend in his DHL Toyota Camry. After earning number one qualifier honors on Saturday, Todd advanced to the semifinals with a win over Camry driver Alexis DeJoria in round one, then running an impressive 3.991 in a second-round bye. In the semifinals against John Force, Todd had the advantage on the tree and led in the early going, but Force was eventually able to move past him by 300’ and went on to the victory.
Next up for the Camping World Drag Racing Series is the NGK NTK NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway in Charlotte, May 14-16.
Toyota Driver Results – Lucas Oil NHRA Southern Nationals Eliminations Round-by-Round
|Top Fuel||Qual/Fin||Rd. 1 Results||Rd. 2 Results||Semi Results||Final Results|
|Antron Brown||8/Finals||W- Kalitta,3.793-3.800||W- B. Torrence, 3.811-3.820||W – B. Force, 3.786-3.785||W-S. Torrence, 3.752-3.794|
|Shawn Langdon||11/Semis||W- Pruett,4.048-4.071||W – Salinas, 3.917-Red Light||L – S. Torrence, 4.009-4.342||**|
|Doug Kalitta||9/Rd. 1||L – Brown,3.793-3.800||**||**||**|
|Funny Car||Qual/Fin||Rd. 1 Results||Rd. 2 Results|
|J.R. Todd||1/Semis||W– DeJoria, 4.033-No time||W – Bye, 3.991||L – J. Force, 3.984-4.038||**|
|Alexis DeJoria||14/Rd. 1||L – Todd,4.033-No time||**||***||**|
2021 Toyota Wins:
Funny Car (1): J.R. Todd, Gainesville
Top Fuel (1): Antron Brown, Atlanta
– In winning today’s Lucas Oil Southern Nationals, Antron Brown has now won two of the last four NHRA events. He also has gone to the semifinals or beyond in each of the first three races of the season and has now reached the semifinals or beyond in each of the last five NHRA events, including three final round appearances (winning Las Vegas in 2020, advancing to the final round at this year’s Las Vegas Four-Wides and today’s victory). The three-time world champion sits second in points through three races.
– In winning today, Antron Brown ties Joe Amato for third all-time in Top Fuel wins with 52. Overall, he has 68 career Camping World Drag Racing Series victories with 16 in Pro Stock Motorcycle. With his next round win, Brown will become just the sixth driver in NHRA history to earn 750 round wins. For the season, he holds an 8-2 mark.
– With today’s semifinal showing, J.R. Todd has now put together an impressive 7-2 round record over the first three races, including a win at Gainesville.
– Three Toyota NHRA drivers currently sit in the top three in points in their class. Antron Brown and Shawn Langdon are second and third in Top Fuel, while J.R. Todd holds down the second spot in Funny Car. Both Doug Kalitta (seventh in Top Fuel) and Alexis DeJoria (eighth in Funny Car) are on pace to qualify for the NHRA Countdown to the Playoffs.
Antron Brown, Matco Tools/Toyota Top Fuel dragster:
Tell us about your win
“It feels good. It feels real good. This is what we work for each and every day and all that hard work over the off season and all the changes we made and the testing we’ve done, and we’re just building on that, and we’ve got to keep building. We just kept on nipping at it each round and that’s what I love about my team so much, all of our Matco Tools Toyota boys. This is what they work hard for. They put in the work as a team and when you see these types of results, that’s why we work hard. We’ve got a lot of new players, too. We have Matt (Sackman) who’s been here the longest, along with Brad (Mason), Brian (Corradi) and Mark (Oswald), they’re my homeboys from back in ’09. The rest of the gang is all new to this Matco team. I’m so proud of all these guys and how they all pulled together and meshed so quickly.”
How does it feel to tie Joe Amato for third all-time in Top Fuel wins?
“It’s huge. Just to be mentioned in the same sentence with Joe Amato. He was always a huge hero of mine. I remember growing up and he had the motto hang on Sloopy because here comes Joe. I remember him winning those back-to-back championships and being a dominant force in drag racing. He’s really a true legend of our sport. Just to be mentioned alongside of him is a great honor for me. Just to be on that list period, knowing where I’ve come from and where I’m at now. The way we fought through all the diversity as a team to get back to winning races feels like a real accomplishment. You have to go through things like that to be amongst those great. They went through a lot of turmoil in their time and I guess when you get that many wins, you’re going to go through some yourself. So, I’m fortunate even to be mentioned with Joe, let alone to be able to tie him.”
J.R. Todd, DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car: “All in all, it was a good weekend for the DHL Toyota Camry. The car was going down the track pretty much every run. We just slowed up there in the semis against (John) Force. I hate to go out like that. I wanted to win the last race here in Atlanta Southern Nationals. Now we’ll get ready for four-wide in two weeks in Charlotte.”
Shawn Langdon, DHL Toyota Top Fuel dragster: “We had a tough weekend out here in Atlanta. We didn’t make it down the track at all, but still managed to get wins over Leah Pruett and Mike Salinas today. We will regroup and turn our focus to Charlotte I a couple of weeks.”
|Toyota Drivers Top Fuel||Points – Leader Torrence (286)||2021 Wins||2021 W-L||Career Races||Career Wins||Career Win-Loss|
|2. Brown||258 (-28)||1||8-2||445||68||749-373|
|3. Langdon||221 (-65)||0||6-3||270||17||303-250|
|7. Kalitta||160 (-126)||0||4-3||527||49||714-471|
|Funny Car||Tasca (307)|
|2. Todd||247 (-60)||1||7-2||238||19||257-215|
|8. DeJoria||148 (-159)||0||2-3||155||5||111-146|
Toyota Racing PR