Shawn Langdon advanced to the Funny Car semifinals, while Doug Kalitta did the same in Top Fuel to lead Toyota at Sunday’s Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway. In the process, both drivers officially clinched berths in the NHRA Countdown to the Championship playoffs.
Langdon registered two of the three quickest Funny Car passes of the day. In round one, he drove his Toyota Camry to an easy victory over Paul Lee with a 3.905-second run. Langdon would then better that time with a 3.903-second pass in a round two win over Bob Bode to set up a matchup with Ron Capps. In the semis, Langdon took an early lead and held it through 330 feet before smoking the ties prior the midway point, giving the win to Capps.
“Your list of goals every season starts with making the Countdown,” said Langdon. “We accomplished that goal today and I am excited to see the constant improvement on this Global Electronic Technology Toyota Camry. I think we are building momentum at the perfect time. The first two runs of the day, we were just about perfect. We ran our quickest times of the weekend in back-to-back rounds and got important wins. I don’t think we did anything different on the semifinal run. We had lane choice and I felt really good. This is tough racing out here and everything has to go perfectly. We will go back and look at the data to see what happened. I’m really pumped that we got to the semifinals today and I think we have a car that can go a lot of rounds the rest of the season.”
Rounding out the Camry Funny Car drivers was J.R. Todd, who clinched his playoff berth on Saturday in qualifying, but fell short in the first round against Capps.In Top Fuel, Kalitta earned a first-round victory over Terry McMillen, where he registered the best Top Fuel reaction time of the day with a .027 light on the way to a 3.735-second pass. After clinching his playoff berth in the first round, Kalitta set his sights on series point leader Steve Torrence in round two. Kalitta again had an advantage on the tree with the two cars running within one-thousandth of a second apart through the first 330 feet before Kalitta opened up a lead at the 660’ mark on the way to winning with a 3.733-second run.
“We made some great runs today in the LaBounty Toyota Top Fuel dragster,” said Kalitta. “I think we put on a good show for the fans and a new sponsor. Of course, you would like to get into the winner’s circle, but today wasn’t our day. I have won some races here in Brainerd and I felt especially good after the first round. We will get ready for Indy and we are definitely excited about making the Countdown.”
In the semifinals, Kalitta once again had a sizable lead at the tree over Mike Salinas and held it through the first 60’, but smoked the tires early. He recovered quickly, though, and after pedaling came back to make a race of it after Salinas smoked the tires after 660’, but it would be too little, too late as Salinas advanced to the semis.
Both Antron Brown and Richie Crampton lost in their opening runs when neither was able to get down the track cleanly. Brown fell to Billy Torrence, with Crampton being eliminated by Clay Millican.The Mello Yello Drag Racing Series closes out its regular season with the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis, Aug. 30-September 2.