Toyota Gazoo Racing North America NHRA Charlotte Post-Qualifying Report 09.23.23

Extended qualifying day sees record speeds and times in night running

CONCORD, N.C. (September 23, 2023) – After a longer than expected day at zMAX Dragway, Antron Brown qualified second in Top Fuel for the Betway Carolina Nationals with a career-best elapsed time of 3.655. Afternoon rain showers caused a multi-hour delay where the final qualifying sessions ran under the lights. The night running paved the way for ideal conditions where Brown set his own record time and competitor Mike Salinas reached a speed of over 338 mph to snag the No. 1 qualifier spot. Brown makes his 500th professional start this weekend, reaching another milestone in his prolific drag racing career.

In Funny Car, Ron Capps was the top qualifying Toyota driver in fifth position, followed by J.R. Todd in eighth and Alexis DeJoria in 14th. Capps aims for a repeat victory in the Carolina Nationals as his quest for another Funny Car title continues.

Before the weekend’s events began, Capps and Brown faced off in the finale of the “Supra Showdown.” Brown, who was the Top Fuel team captain, defeated Funny Car captain Capps in an epic finale to take home the Supra Showdown title as both teams came into the final event tied with six victories a piece. The final also determined the charitable contributions from Toyota to team-selected charities. With the Top Fuel victory, each of those drivers’ charities received $2,500, with the Funny Car charities receiving $1,000.

Toyota Post-Qualifying Recap
NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series
zMAX Dragway
Race 17 of 21


NameCarQualifying PositionFirst Round Opponent
Mike Salinas*Scrappers Racing Dragster1st (3.647)M. Bucher
Antron BrownMatco Tools Toyota Top Fuel Dragster2nd (3.655)S. Massey
Doug KalittaMac Tools Toyota Top Fuel Dragster3rd (3.665)S. Torrence
Justin AshleyPhillips Connect Toyota Top Fuel Dragster7th (3.698)L. Pruett
Shawn LangdonKalitta Air Careers Toyota Top Fuel Dragster9th (3.719)T. Schumacher
Steve TorrenceCapco Contractors Toyota Top Fuel Dragster12th (3.726)D. Kalitta


NameCarQualifying PositionFirst Round Opponent
Robert HightAuto Club Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car1st (3.824)Bye
Ron CappsNAPA Auto Parts Toyota GR Supra Funny Car5th (3.864)D. Richards
J.R. ToddDHL Toyota GR Supra Funny Car8th (3.892)P. Lee
Alexis DeJoriaBandero Tequila Toyota GR Supra Funny Car14th (7.705)B. Tasca III


ANTRON BROWN, Matco Tools Toyota Top Fuel Dragster, AB Motorsports

TF Qualifying Result: 2nd

Can you summarize your qualifying effort today?

“We came in and we had good qualifying off the trailer in number 5 and it felt really good to get up to number 2. We’ve been working on this program all year long and it felt so good for it all to come together. In the early run today, we were trying to put a good run up on the board but obviously it didn’t happen for us. We had a couple electrical gremlins that we found and got it fixed up. They tuned it up and put a little bit more here and there and it just felt so good to see the number that we expected to come up on the board. We figured it would be somewhere in the mid 60s – to run my career best here – it’s our team career best – it was truly a statement. I shut off a little bit early, so we missed a mile an hour by a little bit, but our car was sailing. Looking for some good rounds tomorrow. We’ve got to take off in the first round of eliminations. The good part is we ended up number two, so we’ve got good qualifying points. Tomorrow there’s going to be a lot of tough first round matchups, so our main focus is to go out there and just do what we do and just focus on that. We’ll see what we can do on race day.”

Did you enjoy competing in the Toyota GR “Supra Challenge” this season?

“You know it was a lot of fun, because the coolest part was, we always have this challenge on who has the best talent – Funny Car or Top Fuel. But when we got all the Top Fuel guys together, we had the all-star cast. Every single person on our team has won championships and competed for championships, and the same goes for Funny Car. Toyota has the best of the best, so the fun part was showcasing that and driving the Supra was out of our comfort zone. We got in the GR Supras and the whole Showdown was super competitive, which made it so fun. It was a blast out there to compete and talk some junk. We talked some serious junk, but we backed it up.”

RON CAPPS, NAPA Auto Parts Toyota GR Supra Funny Car, Ron Capps Motorsports

FC Qualifying Result: 5th

Can you talk about your qualifying effort today?

“Guido (Dean Antonelli crew chief) has been working really hard on our clutch package and getting the car to move better earlier in the run especially between the 330 and 660 cones. Trying to get those incrementals down to get the car moving and that will help the ET. We know we can run mid 80s no problem, but we wanted to figure a new way out with this new clutch package. So, with that being said, we tried something in the first run today. It didn’t work but we learned a lot. Then, of course the rains came, and we got delayed and conditions were unbelievable. They did such a great job getting the track ready. As you saw, the numbers were unbelievable in Top Fuel and Funny Car. We were on a great run. I felt like down there I overdrove it maybe a little bit. It was hard to see for me. The car was vibrating. I was yelling at myself in my helmet to try to keep it in the center of the groove and it was just moving all over the place. I’m not sure what happened yet, but I have the upmost confidence. Our team is always very well prepared. Even between runs on a race day, we have another car completely ready to go. That’s the way Guido teaches our guys. We’ve got three more great GR Supra bodies. Unfortunately, damaged that one, but it might be fixable. We just went up to throw down. These guys are throwing down and we want to make Toyota proud. It’s capable of doing it. We went 83 last year and those are the conditions you want to try and set the world on fire.”

Did you have fun teaming up with your fellow Toyota Funny Car drivers to compete in the “Supra Showdown” this season?

“It was a lot of fun. I don’t think I’ve been as nervous all year in my 12,000 horsepower GR Supra Funny Car than I was for this challenge. We were representing the Funny Cars, not just us against the Top Fuel guys. I went undefeated until yesterday, and I was nervous about this honestly, a lot of anxiety going into the final run. I have to say a big thanks to Toyota for putting this together. The fans had such a blast with it, us drivers had such a great time. It got our competitive juices flowing. But in the end, it all went to a great cause where we were able to raise money for a bunch of charities that mean a lot to us. For Toyota to step up and donate to each organization is fantastic.”

About Toyota

Toyota (NYSE:TM) has been a part of the cultural fabric in North America for more than 65 years, and is committed to advancing sustainable, next-generation mobility through our Toyota and Lexus brands, plus our more than 1,800 dealerships. 

Toyota directly employs more than 63,000 people in North America who have contributed to the design, engineering, and assembly of nearly 45 million cars and trucks at our 13 manufacturing plants. By 2025, Toyota’s 14th plant in North Carolina will begin to manufacture automotive batteries for electrified vehicles. With more electrified vehicles on the road than any other automaker, Toyota currently offers 24 electrified options.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of  As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases for some links and banners that are being displayed on


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