RICHMOND, VA –Antron Brown advanced to the Top Fuel final, while J.R. Todd did the same in Funny Car as the top finishing Toyota drivers in the NHRA Virginia Nationals at the Virginia Motorsports Park, Sunday.
Despite qualifying only 11th, Brown had showed signs in Saturday’s qualifying that he would be a contender on Sunday after placing second and fourth in the final two qualifying sessions and that held true throughout the day. He opened the day with a win over Leah Pritchett with an impressive 3.872-second run. In the second round, Brown had a substantial advantage on the tree and went on to defeat Brittany Force by more than a quarter of a second.
As temperatures soared into the 90s with track temps hitting 140 degrees, Brown was on a good pass in the semifinals until the car threw the blower belt off, but he held on for the win as Mike Salinas overpowered the track early. That set up the final round match-up with Steve Torrence.
Todd was one of just a handful of drivers able to improve his position on Saturday as track temperatures soared up to 137 degrees. The DHL Toyota Camry driver placed second in both sessions, improving his position up to fourth on the final run with a 3.961-second pass at 318.47 mph. For the weekend, Todd earned bonus points for running in the top three in three of the four qualifying runs. He will face Bob Tasca in Sunday’s opening round.
“We’re really happy with how this DHL Toyota ran in the heat today,” said Todd, the 2018 Funny Car world champion. “The forecast is calling for even warmer temperatures tomorrow and if we can run like this on Sunday, we’ll have a shot to go some rounds.”
After battling rain for the first two days of the weekend, Sunday’s temperatures soared to 86 degrees with track temperatures climbed over 120 degrees resulting in numerous cars struggling to get down the track.
Brown ran his quickest pass of the weekend in Sunday’s opening run as he registered a 3.771 in defeating Clay Millican. In round two, Brown had a sizable starting line advantage and held the lead until around 800 feet when he hit a patch of oil on the track and lost traction, allowing Brittany Force to chase him down. Despite the late troubles, Brown ran the third-quickest pass of the session, falling by 0.0143 seconds or about six feet.
Todd, the reigning Funny Car world champion, was the top qualifier after Friday’s sessions and then was second-quick in Saturday’s first session to earn five bonus points before rain washed out the weekend’s final qualifying run. Overall, five different Toyota drivers earned bonus points for running in the top three of a session, combining for 14 points.
“I know going into a race that I’ve got a great DHL Toyota team behind me that can adapt to the conditions,” said Todd, who will square off with Jim Campbell in Sunday’s opening round. “It was sketchy on Friday night. With the rain and the humidity, it was tricky and we hit it right and a lot of other people didn’t. We ran well again today and we’ve got a good starting position for tomorrow. Now we need to get ready for race day and more changing conditions and try to bring home another Wally.”
CHARLOTTE, NC – Shawn Langdon came from behind to drive his Global Electronic Technology Toyota Camry Funny Car to victory in Sunday’s NHRA NGK Spark Plugs Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway in Charlotte.
Langdon opened his day by defeating Jeff Diehl and Terry Haddock in the opening round. He then eliminated teammate J.R. Todd and Tommy Johnson Jr. in round two to advance to the finals with a star-studded quadrant featuring Langdon, Robert Hight, John Force and Matt Hagan – all world champions.
In the final, Langdon was behind Hight early, but was able to go around him at the finish line and take the win by .019 seconds for his first career Funny Car victory. With the win, the 2013 Top Fuel champion became just the 17th driver to triumph in both Top Fuel and Funny Car.
“The guys we had to go through today in the second round and the finals were the best in the class,” said Langdon, who also earned his first Top Fuel win at zMax Dragway in 2012. “To get this win is very gratifying. I went .069 in the final and left fourth. It just shows how good these guys are and how hungry they are to win. There’s so many things going on in my life, that I just sat in the car while staging and closed my eyes and said just give me this one time right here, I need to use it. I don’t say that too often, but this time it worked.
The second-place showing marks the fourth time in six races that Brown has qualified in the top five. He’s coming off a season-best final round appearance in Houston.
“We are just trying to get better every day and that has been our focus,” said Brown, a five-time Charlotte winner. “The conditions this weekend have been a little tricky, but we had a really good run on Friday night and a solid run in Q4 today. Getting a good qualifying position in the Four-Wides really helps in the first round. Now we need to go rounds tomorrow. If you can get to the finals, it’s anybody’s game.”
Brown will open up Sunday’s eliminations in a quadrant with Brittany Force, Scott Palmer and Dom Lagana.
BAYTOWN, TX – Antron Brown drove his Matco Tools Toyota dragster to his first final round of the season before falling to Brittany Force in Sunday’s NHRA SpringNationals at Houston Raceway Park. It marked the sixth time that Brown has reached the SpringNationals finals, five coming in Top Fuel and once in Pro Stock Motorcycle.
Brown kicked off the day with a holeshot victory over Mike Salinas on a holeshot and then dispatched Leah Pritchett in the second round. That set up a match-up with Steve Torrence in the semifinals, where Brown had a .007 advantage at the tree and went on to win on a holeshot by just .0056 seconds (approximately three feet).
In the finals, the two were side-by-side at the track, but Brown started to haze the tires just past the midway point, giving Force the victory.
“All in all, It was a good day for the Matco Tools/Toyota/Pennzoil race team today,” said the three-time world champion. “We’ve been going through a lot of adversity and we’ve just been fighting through it as a unit together. Today, people saw what we are capable of. It feels good just to get back to what’s been the norm. We still have a ways to go, but we’re just going to keep on working and keep our heads down and everything’s going to be just fine.