MADISON, IL –Funny Car point leader J.R. Todd qualified seventh, while Antron Brown placed seventh in Top Fuel to lead Toyota before a sell-out crowd in qualifying for Sunday’s AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park in suburban St. Louis.
Todd, who has driven his DHL Toyota Camry to victories at each of the last two events, ran a 3.928-second pass at 323.66 mph on Friday and followed that up with a top-five qualifying runs in both of Saturday’s sessions.
“We ran well, just not as well as we hoped to in the Friday night session, but we’re in the top half,” said Todd. “Friday night runs usually don’t correlate to Sundays. It’s more of a matter of getting your spot on the ladder. Our DHL/Wix Toyota Camry ran pretty well on Saturday and if it’s overcast tomorrow, these runs we made today could be a pretty good indicator.”
Madison, Ill – Todd eyes third straight win…Funny Car points lead J.R. Toddwill be looking to drive his Camry Funny Car to his third consecutive victory at Gateway Motorsports Park this weekend. The Kalitta Motorsports driver opened the Countdown to the Championship last weekend with a victory at Maple Grove Raceway. He also won the regular season finale at the U.S. Nationals. His four victories on the season tie him for the series lead.
Gateway To The Winner’s Circle…No driver has won more at Gateway Motorsports Park than Antron Brown, who will be eying a sixth trip to Winner’s Circle at the track. Brown won in 2009 and then reeled off four consecutive wins from 2012-2015. Fellow Toyota Top Fuel pilot Doug Kalittahas won three times at the St. Louis area track, while Shawn Langdonhas one Midwest Nationals victory to his credit.
MOHNTON, PA – J.R. Todd drove his DHL Toyota Camry to victory over Tim Wilkerson in final round to win the NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway and take over the Funny Car championship point lead after the first round of the Countdown to the Championship playoffs.
Todd opened the day with a victory over Bob Tasca, then knocked off Mike Smith in the second round. That advanced him to a semifinal match-up with Ron Capps where Todd had an .013 advantage at the light and never trailed on the way to running a 3.975 to set up a final round match-up with Wilkerson.
In the finals, Todd again took the lead at the light with a .029 advantage and never led by less than .045 seconds after the 60-foot mark, registering a 3.972-second pass at 319.90 mph in winning his second consecutive race and his fourth of the season.
“It’s awesome to keep the momentum going, but we still have a long road ahead of us,” said Todd, who becomes the first African-American driver to top the Funny Car playoff standings since the inception of the Countdown. “These DHL/Wix Filter Toyota guys know how to win. A lot of them were here when Del Worsham won the title in 2015. We got some gifts early on today with some of the cars in front of us going out early. It was nice to be able to come out of here with a win.
MOHNTON, PA – Antron Brown placed sixth in Top Fuel, while Shawn Langdon did the same in Funny Car to lead Toyota heading into Sunday’s NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway, the first round of the Countdown to the Championship playoffs.
Brown earned bonus points for qualifying in the top three in two of the weekend’s four sessions with a best run of 3.767 seconds at 328.22 mph. He will race Brittany Force in tomorrow’s opening round of eliminations.
“We made three good runs in qualifying this weekend and we’re in a good spot heading into tomorrow,” said Brown, a three-time Top Fuel world champion. “We were able to get bonus points in two sessions. It’s going to be a fun day and we’re ready for it.”
Doug Kalitta and Richie Crampton qualified eighth and ninth and the teammates will square off in an all-Kalitta Motorsports Toyota first-round match-up.
Toyota Racing – Shawn Langdon
After qualifying for the playoffs in his debut season in a Toyota Funny Car, 2013 Top Fuel world champion Shawn Langdon talks about the upcoming six-race NHRA Countdown to the Championship playoffs, which kicks off this weekend at Maple Grove Raceway.
Shawn Langdon, Global Electronic Technology Toyota Camry Funny Car
How do you feel going into the Countdown?
“I feel good in the car. We’ve been making adjustments to try to make the car react better and I think we’ve accomplished that. I think we’re in a good position heading into the playoffs. This is the best car we’ve had and I feel I’m driving my best. This is our time to shine.”
Toyota Racing – Doug Kalitta
Countdown Position: 5th
Doug Kalitta, Mac Tools/Toyota dragster
What’s your outlook heading into the playoffs?
“Right now, we’re just looking for consistency. Getting to the finals in Indy was a huge momentum builder for us. Overall, I think we’ve been running pretty well with my car. So I’m really looking forward to the Countdown this year.”
How does the team’s approach change in the Countdown?
“We’ve done all the stuff that we’ve been trying to test and now we’re going to try to settle into what’s been working. Up to this point, we’ve tried a lot of different things. I’m looking forward to just staying with what we know and the things that have really been working for us and cut back on the experimenting. The entire Mac Tools Toyota team is ready to go.”
Three-time Top Fuel world champion Antron Brown talks about the upcoming six-race NHRA Countdown to the
Championship playoffs, which kicks off this weekend at Maple Grove Raceway.
What’s your outlook heading into the playoffs?
“We’re going into the Countdown this year just like we do every year – head down and stay focused. The main thing is you have to be efficient. You have to attack every round like it’s the last round. It’s a simple mathematical equation for us. You have 24 rounds of racing – six races times four elimination rounds. Our main objective is to win as many rounds as possible.
“We know from past experience that if we can get 16 to 18 round wins that pretty much puts you in the hunt for a championship. Our goal is to get 20 and if we can do that I think that will be enough to give our Matco Tools/U.S. Army/Toyota team another title.”