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TOPEKA, KS – Antron Brown advanced to the Top Fuel semifinals to lead Toyota at the Menards NHRA Heartland Nationals presented by Minties at the Heartland Motorsports Park in Topeka.

The three-time world champion has now advanced to the semifinals or beyond in three consecutive races and in four of the last six. With the strong run, he has climbed up to fourth in points, just nine points out of second.

In the opening round, Brown had the advantage at the starting line and never trailed in defeating Scott Palmer with a 3.740-second pass, his quickest of the weekend. He advanced to meet Doug Kalitta in an all-Toyota second round match-up after Kalitta had defeated Leah Pritchett in his opening run. Kalitta was able to make a solid pass, but Brown had the edge at the tree and led wire-to-wire with a 3.743 run.

For the third race in a row, the Matco Tools Toyota driver squared off with Steve Torrence, but Brown was up in smoke early, giving Torrence the win on a run that Brown would have defeated with his run in each of the first two rounds.

“We’re definitely making gains, but we’ve been so close,” said Brown of his semifinal run. “We’re learning as we’re going, though. Our Matco Tools Toyota dragster is running really, really good. I’m starting to get back on my game on the starting line, too. The more laps you get, the better you get. With that said, we just need to back it off a little more and you still run good ETs. We’re looking good going into Bristol. We just need to keep doing what we’re doing and maybe we can pop a win off there. I thought this was going to be the race where we got a win, but really I thought that over each of the last three races.”

In addition to Brown and Kalitta each going rounds today, Richie Crampton also advanced to the second round with a victory over Terry McMillen before falling to Billy Torrence in round two.

In Funny Car, J.R. Todd earned a first-round bye after winning the pole position with a 3.924-second pass in qualifying. The number one qualifier was the 100thfor Kalitta Motorsports. Todd then ran an uncontested 3.906 in round one. Unfortunately, he smoked the tires early in a second round loss to Robert Hight.

Hight had previously eliminated Shawn Langdon in the first round.

The Mello Yello Drag Racing Series is back in action next weekend at Bristol Dragway for the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals, June 14-16.

Team/Series News