Todd, Camry Advance To NHRA Winternationals Finals; Brown Reaches Top Fuel Semis

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 J.R. Todd drove his DHL Toyota Camry to the Funny Car final round at Sunday’s Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona before eventually falling to Ron Capps, while Antron Brown advanced to the Top Fuel semifinals as the top finishing Toyota drivers on the day. It was the third final round appearance of the year for Todd and he leaves Pomona just 57 points out of the top spot in the Funny Car championship race.

The 2018 Funny Car world champion opened the day with a match-up against fellow Camry driver Jeff Diehl. He had a slight lead at the tree, but Diehl started to drop cylinders right off the line and lifted early as Todd registered a strong pass for the win, giving him lane choice over Robert Hight in round two. Once again, Todd had the starting line advantage and held off a charging Hight for the close hole shot win with the two running the exact same ETs. That set up a semifinal against Jim Campbell where Todd had an .047 lead at the starting line and led wire-to-wire to send him to the finals against Ron Capps. With track temperatures at 138 degrees, Todd had an .018 advantage on the tree, but dropped cylinders before the midway point, with Capps taking the lead early and driving to the victory.  For the day, Todd had a quicker reaction time than all four of his opponents. 

Also in Funny Car, Alexis DeJoria advanced to the second round today. She opened the event with a solo after Jason Rupert wasn’t able to run after a Saturday incident. In round two, she had a big advantage on the starting line against Campbell and opened up a five one-hundredths lead by the 330’ mark, only to lose the blower belt after shearing the bolts off the flywheel, giving the win to Campbell. 

Brown entered the weekend second in the Top Fuel point race and solidified his position as the regular season winds down by advancing to the semifinals today. It was the seventh time this season that Brown has reached the semifinals or beyond in 10 races.

His first win of the day may have been his biggest, squaring off with series point lead Steve Torrence. Brown had a sizeable starting line advantage and never trailed for the win, going straight down the groove with his quickest pass of the weekend. The victory put an end to Torrence’s drive to sweep the Western Swing. He then defeated fellow Toyota driver Shawn Langdon in round two. In the semis. Justin Ashley would have a slight lead on the tree, but Brown started to haze the tires early, eventually dropping a cylinder, allowing Ashley to drive away for the win. 

Langdon advanced to the second round after earning a victory over Jim Maroney where he had a starting line advantage and never trailed for the win. 

Doug Kalitta saw his three-race Winternationals win streak come to an end with a first-round loss to Clay Millican. Kalitta had a slight lead on the tree, but then started to lose traction, allowing Millican to pull away for the win. 

The Camping World Drag Racing Series will be off next weekend before resuming action at the Menards NHRA Nationals at Heartland Motorsports Park in Topeka, Kansas, August 13-15. 

Notes:

– J.R. Todd advanced to his third final round of the season and the 38th of his NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series career with 19 in Funny Car and 19 in Top Fuel. Todd won the season-opening Gatornationals and he also advanced to the finals at Charlotte. 

– Antron Brown has now advanced to the semifinals or beyond three times in the last four races and seven times in the season’s first 10 races, including a win at Atlanta. Brown currently sits second in points.

– With just three regular-season events remaining, all five Toyota NHRA drivers appear to be on the way to the NHRA Countdown to the Playoffs. Antron Brown sits second in Top Fuel, while Shawn Langdon is fifth and Doug Kalitta is ninth.  In Funny Car, J.R. Todd is currently sixth, with Alexis DeJoria in seventh.

Toyota Driver Results – Eliminations Round-by-Round

Funny Car Qual/Fin Rd. 1 Results Rd. 2 Results Semi ResultsFinals
J.R. Todd 7/Finals W – Diehl, 4.148-4.510 W – Hight, 4.192-4.192 W – Campbell, 4.297-4.531 L – Capps, 4.141-4.289
Alexis DeJoria 6/Rd. 2 W– Rupert, 7.972-No run L – Campbell, 4.314-4.797 *** 
Jeff Diehl 10/Rd. 1 L – Todd, 4.148-4.510 *** *** 
Funny Car Qual/Fin Rd. 1 Results Rd. 2 Results  
Antron Brown 11/Semis W – Torrence, 3.834-4.472 W – Langdon, 4.127-4.189 L – Ashley, 3.944-4.024 ***
Shawn Langdon 5/Rd. 2 W- Maroney, 3.921-5.503 L – Brown, 4.127-4.189 *** ***
Doug Kalitta  6/Rd. 1 L – Millican, 3.843-4.287*** ***        ***

2021 Toyota Wins: 

Funny Car (1): J.R. Todd, Gainesville

Top Fuel (1): Antron Brown, Atlanta

Quotes: 

J.R. Todd, DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car: “We didn’t run spectacular, but we ran good enough to get to the final. We had a problem dropping cylinders today and that’s what cost us in the final. I’m just glad to get there. The Western Swing was a struggle until we got to Pomona and then the track was real tricky this weekend. So, hats off to Todd Smith, Jon Oberhofer and all of the DHL Toyota guys who made it happen today. I just wish we could have gotten a win to finish off the Swing, but all in all, it was a good points day.”

(On second round win over Robert Hight): “Running Robert, they are the class of the field. They were coming off a win last week, that was a big round win for us. We are trying to move up in points. For DHL, Mobil 1, Toyota, and all our sponsors we are going to keep getting after it.”

(On being just 57 points or less than three rounds out of the point lead): “We did ourselves some good today, so it definitely shows that we’re back in the hunt. We just need to stay consistent in starts and qualifying, then go to the later rounds on race day. That’s where we’ve been lacking and today we made that up.”

Alexis DeJoria, Bandero ROKiT Toyota Camry Funny Car: “Pomona was definitely our worst showing of the Western Swing. We barely qualified, getting in on the last run to qualify sixth. We had somewhat of a bye on our first run today when Jason Rupert blew up yesterday and couldn’t make it to first round today. Then we had Jim Campbell in the second round and we had him, then the bolts were completely sheared off the flywheel and our blower belt broke. I was dead in the water down there and here comes Jim Campbell. He passed me and that was the end. So it was a second-round loss today and it was really tough. We’ve been on a roll going to semis and qualifying really well. We have a week off and then we are going to hit Topeka. I don’t want to go home right now. I wish we had another race to go to because I know how hot this car is. You can’t do anything about parts breaking and things like that, but we are right on the edge and it’s going to happen. I’m just proud of my guys. They’ve done a terrific job having been on the road for three weeks. We’ll just take everything back to the shop, go through it and get ready for the next race.”

Antron Brown, Matco Tools/Toyota Top Fuel dragster: ““All-and-all, we rebounded well on race day like I knew our Matco Tools Toyota team can. I have all the confidence in these guys. That was a big monster match-up first round with Steve (Torrence). We tried to slow her down second round against Shawn (Langdon), but it still dropped a hole out there. That track was just evil out there. It was tough, but we were able to move on to the semis. That was a tough race against a good-running car. Justin (Ashley) is great on the tree and our car was about to throw down. It was trucking early until it dropped a hole and slowed us down. Hats off to Justin and Mike Green over there. They’ve run great all weekend in tough conditions here at Pomona. We kept going rounds and that’s important. We really want to hold down the number two spot into the Countdown. We just have to keep progressing and getting better.”

Shawn Langdon, DHL Toyota Top Fuel dragster: “It is tough obviously. On that (second round) run I felt like we left together. I saw his nose pop out and I was just watching him out there. On days like today anything can happen. I felt the car nose over pretty bad and I stayed with it as long as I could. I lifted and at that time it looked like he shut it off too. I wasn’t sure what was going on. I smelled my fire and I knew I was toast. We have been trying to run good. Connie and Kurt have been working to turn it around.”

Doug Kalitta, Mac Tools Toyota Top Fuel dragster: “Getting beat at your favorite place is tough. We are coming on and it just didn’t happen today. I really am proud of the effort we have going on with this Mac Tools Toyota dragster. We are going to keep working together. The guys are plenty smart with this race car so we will just pull together as a team.”

Toyota NHRA Driver Statistics

Toyota Drivers   Top FuelPoints – Leader Torrence (1014)2021 Wins2021 W-L Career RacesCareer WinsCareer Win-Loss
2. Brown701 (-313)118-945168759-380
5. Langdon514 (-500)010-1027717307-257
9. Kalitta439 (-575)09-1053449720-478
Funny CarCapps (734)     
x. Todd677 (-57)117-923919267-222
7. DeJoria632 (-102)013-101625122-153

Toyota Racing PR