Todd Drives Camry To Finals In NHRA At Topeka; Climbs To Third In Points

MARC GEWERTZ PHOTO

 J.R. Todd drove his DHL Toyota Camry to his second consecutive Funny Car final round before eventually falling to John Force in Sunday’s Menards NHRA Nationals at Heartland Motorsports Park. Todd also reached the finals at Pomona in the most recent race and has climbed up to third in the championship race, just 38 points out of the lead.

After an opening round bye, Todd squared off with Ron Capps, who entered the day as the Funny Car point leader. Todd had an .016 edge on the tree and the two ran side-by-side through 330’ before Todd took the lead at the 660-foot mark and went on to register a .014-second win on a holeshot, 3.996-3.994. That would set up a semifinal match-up with Blake Alexander, where Todd had a sizable lead at the light and was never challenged, driving off to an easy victory.

In the finals against John Force, Todd had an .023 advantage at the tree and then stretched it out to .063 by the 330’ mark before smoking the tires, giving Force the Wally. It marked the fourth time this season that Todd has advanced to the finals in 11 races.

Also in Funny Car, Alexis DeJoria advanced to the second round today. She opened the event with a victory over Camry driver Chris King before losing to Cruz Pedregon as both drivers ran identical 4.006-second passes, but Pedregon had the advantage on the tree for the win. 

In Top Fuel, Shawn Langdon advanced to the semifinals before eventually falling to Clay Millican. Langdon opened eliminations with a victory over fellow Toyota driver Antron Brown. Langdon had a great .031 light and never trailed for the win, while Brown was up in smoke early. In round two against Billy Torrence, the DHL Toyota dragster once again had the advantage on the tree by .018 and then outran Torrence in going wire-to-wire for the win. In the semis against Millican, the two left virtually side-by-side, but Langdon lost traction early, shutting it off and giving the win to Millican.

Rounding out the Toyota contingent was Doug Kalitta, who suffered a first-round loss to Millican. Kalitta had a slight lead on the tree, but Millican was able to run him down by 330’ and went on to the victory despite Kalitta making his best pass of the weekend.

The Camping World Drag Racing Series is back in action next weekend at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway. 

Notes:

– J.R. Todd advanced to his second consecutive final round and his fourth of the season. It’s the 39th of his NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series career, with 20 in Funny Car and 19 in Top Fuel. Todd won the season-opening Gatornationals and also advanced to the finals at Charlotte and Pomona.

– Shawn Langdon has now advanced to the semifinals or beyond four times this season. Today marked his first semifinal showing since Houston.

– With two regular-season events remaining, three Toyota drivers have clinched their berths in the Countdown to the Championship playoffs with Antron Brown securing a spot in Top Fuel, and J.R. Todd and Alexis DeJoria set to compete for the Funny Car title.  Shawn Langdon moved up to fifth in Top Fuel and can clinch his spot in Brainerd, while Doug Kalitta holds down the tenth and final spot in the Countdown, 161 points ahead of 11th-place Josh Hart.

Toyota Driver Results – Eliminations Round-by-Round

Funny Car Qual/Fin Rd. 1 Results Rd. 2 Results Semi ResultsFinals
J.R. Todd 1/Finals W – Bye,5.527 W – Capps, 3.996-3.994 W – Alexander, 4.040-5.222 L-Force, 4.019-4.453
Alexis DeJoria 2/Rd. 2 W– King, 4.811-7.384 L – Pedregon, 4.006-4.006 *** ***
Chris King 15/Rd. 1 L – DeJoria, 4.811-7.384 *** *** ***
Funny Car Qual/Fin Rd. 1 Results Rd. 2 Results  
Shawn Langdon 7/Semis W- Brown, 3.900-4.914 W – B. Torrence, 3.812-3.822 L – Millican, 4.561-7.121 ***
Antron Brown 8/Rd. 1 L – Langdon, 3.900-4.914 ***  *** ***
Doug Kalitta  9/Rd. 1 L – Millican, 3.732-3.804 *** ***        ***

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: “it was a good points day again. We just came up short in the final, but I’d like to think that we’re paying the bank right now and, hopefully, saving the wins for when it counts. The most important time of the year is coming up in the Countdown. We made up some ground and we’re right in the thick of it. We’ve got two more races before the Countdown starts and when we won the championship in Indy, we got hot right around Indy. It’s getting right about that time of year. The DHL Toyota guys are doing a great job, as always. Just stay consistent and keep doing what we’re doing and the wins will come.”

Shawn Langdon, DHL Toyota Top Fuel dragster: “Getting a couple of round wins here in Topeka was a good way to gain some momentum for our DHL Toyota team. Going out in the semis the way we did wasn’t ideal, but we’ll regroup for Brainerd in just a few days. We’ve got a busy schedule ahead and we just need to keep building one round at a time.”

Alexis DeJoria, Bandero ROKiT Toyota Camry Funny Car: “We’re in the top-10, so that’s good. We qualified second. We’re on a roll with that –  in qualifying really well. First round (vs. Chris King) was a crazy one, but we got away with it luckily. Second round, just didn’t have what it took on the starting line. I got distracted. I looked over at Cruz, who was taking his time to pre-stage. I know better. I was looking over thinking ‘is he going to stage or what’. I just threw myself off and it’s upsetting because he didn’t have a good reaction time either. He was there for the taking. If I would have just had one of my normal lights this weekend, I would have beaten him on a holeshot. So that hurts more than anything.”

Antron Brown, Matco Tools/Toyota Top Fuel dragster: “That was definitely not the race day we wanted here in Topeka. We certainly wanted to come out and do much better. We thought we had a Matco Tools Toyota that could win this race. We ran really well yesterday in the heat, but we just pushed too hard. That being said, we learned a lot this weekend. The good news is Brainerd (Minn.) is next weekend. So we have another race to redeem ourselves. The Countdown is right around the corner and we’ll come out swinging next weekend.”

Toyota NHRA Driver Statistics

Toyota Drivers   Top FuelPoints – Leader Torrence (1090)2021 Wins2021 W-L Career RacesCareer WinsCareer Win-Loss
3. Brown736 (-354)118-1045268759-381
5. Langdon587 (-503)012-1127817309-258
10. Kalitta471 (-619)09-1153549720-479
Funny CarForce (816)     
6. Todd778 (-38)119-1024519269-223
7. DeJoria691 (-125)014-111635123-154

Toyota Racing PR