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“This was medicine today,” said Brown. “We’ve been so close at a lot of races, but just in the wrong spot at the wrong time. Sometimes, you’ve got to have a little luck on your side. We just stayed poised. It really started about three races ago and it paid dividends this weekend. We’re just going to keep our heads down, work harder and smarter this off-season. We’re going to be that much farther ahead next year. We’re going to pick up where we left off this year. Winning here is a great motivator for the guys. It shows all the guys that we have all the parts and pieces here at Don Schumacher Racing. We have all the TRD Toyota backing and all the engineering. We’ve been down for so long and kicked all over the place that this is a really good positive motivation for the team to see that the work they’ve been doing will pay off and has paid off. Now we need to keep on going and we’re going to be looking really good this off-season.”Antron Brown
After qualifying fourth on Saturday, Brown opened the day up by running the second-quickest pass of the first round with a 3.720 to defeat fellow Toyota driver Tony Schumacher, who had won the most recent event in Houston. In round two, Brown had an advantage on the tree against Clay Millican and never trailed on the way to running the quickest pass of the round with a 3.761. That would set up a semifinal match-up with Billy Torrence. Brown took the lead from the start and went on to the victory as Torrence’s car quit midway through the run.
In the finals against Steve Torrence, Brown had a decided advantage on the tree with an .042 reaction time and never trailed, despite Torrence running a 3.740 compared to Brown’s 3.759, with a final margin of victory of .023 seconds.
Brown was the only Toyota Top Fuel driver to advance beyond the first round on Sunday. Doug Kalitta’s Top Fuel championship hopes came to an end with a first-round loss to Justin Ashley, despite running the third-quickest pass of the first round (3.733 seconds), behind only Ashley and Brown.
Shawn Langdon also fell in the opening round after losing a blower belt against Clay Millican.
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In Funny Car, Alexis DeJoria advanced to her third semifinals in the last four races by defeating Terry Haddock in round one and Blake Alexander in the second round before falling to eventual Funny Car champion and overall race winner Matt Hagan in the semifinals. Her performance continued a strong run that has seen the ROKiT Toyota Camry qualify in the top five in each of the last five races and earn the fourth-highest Funny Car point total over the last half of the season with the first-year DC Motorsports team.
“It’s been a great weekend,” said DeJoria. “I’m glad we got to run our finals here in Las Vegas, I think it made it more exciting for everyone. For the fifth straight race we qualified in the top five in the number three position, so going into race day, I just felt so confident and so inspired by my team and how well we’ve been doing. It doesn’t matter how long I’ve been racing, though, when I go out for the first round, it’s so nerve-wracking. It’s not that the rounds get easier, but the pressure gets a little bit lighter after you get that first round win. Then when we got that second-round win against Blake Alexander, you’re halfway there. The semifinals against Matt Hagan was a tough race. Anytime you’re going up against a team that’s fighting for a championship they got there for a reason. We’re a new team and there’s nothing to hold our heads about. It’s been a scramble this year for many reasons. We’ve got a really good team and a really good car. Our guys did so good this weekend. The ROKiT Phones/ABK Beer Toyota Camry really showed what we can do and I’m so looking forward to next year.”Alexis DeJoria
J.R. Todd advanced to the second round in his DHL Camry Funny Car, knocking off Tim Wilkerson in round one, before falling to Ron Capps.The NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series will kick off its 2021 season with the 52nd annual Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla., March 12-14.
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