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TODD, CAMRY QUALIFY SECOND AS CHAMPIONSHIP RACE HEATS UP AT TOYOTA NATIONALS

LAS VEGAS – J.R. Todd jumped from outside of the field all the way up to second in Funny Car with a 3.911-second pass to lead Toyota in qualifying for Sunday’s NHRA Toyota Nationals at The Strip at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

With Saturday’s strong showing, which also saw him tie for the third-quickest run in the final session, Todd closed to within six points of the Funny Car point lead. It also sets up a potential second-round showdown for the point lead if both Todd and current leader Robert Hight each win their opening match-ups. Todd will face Richard Townsend the first round.

“Obviously, today’s first round was an important run because at that point our DHL Toyota Camry wasn’t qualified and you’ve got to be in the show to win,” said Todd. “It was really important to get that run down the track. We knew we could do it. We just had an issue on Friday that doesn’t normally happen.  We got some bonus points as well to cut into Robert’s lead a little bit. Now we need to go out and try to turn on four win lights tomorrow.”

After qualifying tenth, Shawn Langdon will take on Hight in the first round on Sunday.

Cruz Pedregon placed 11thand will race Courtney Force in eliminations.

In Top Fuel, Antron Brown was the top Toyota in qualifying fifth. Brown had the top run of Friday’s first session and registered the third-quickest time in Saturday’s opening session. He had a pair of 3.74-second passes today. He will match up with Blake Alexander in the first round.

“We feel good,” said Brown, a four-time winner at The Strip. “We went down four laps the last two days with a pair of 76s on Friday and a pair of 74s today. We’ve got a really consistent car. We wanted to go quicker, but we were trying stuff, going back and forth to try to pick the car up. Now we have some insight on where we need to move to be really competitive tomorrow.”

Doug Kalitta was just one spot behind Brown in sixth, while Richie Crampton placed 11th, setting up an all-Kalitta opening round match-up.

Sunday’s Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Sunday Live qualifying recap show will be aired on FS1 at 3:30 p.m., with the eliminations show on FS1 beginning at 7:00 p.m. (EDT).

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