Toyota drivers Kyle Busch and Noah Gragson clocked in at Martinsville, capturing wins in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) over the weekend while Shawn Langdon advanced to the Top Fuel semi-finals at the NHRA Toyota Nationals in Las Vegas.
Kyle Busch took home the grandfather clock trophy in the Cup Series race at Martinsville on Sunday night, successfully clinching a spot in the ‘Championship 4’ to compete for his second title in the season-finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 19.
Busch took the advantage on a restart with two laps to go in overtime, passing Toyota teammate Denny Hamlin for the lead. The win marked Toyota’s sixth win in seven Playoff races as only three races remain in the 2017 season.
“It’s just a great win for this whole M&M’s Halloween Toyota Camry,” Busch said. “We weren’t the best all day, but we put ourselves in the right spots there at the end and there was kind of chaos ensuing and none of it was our fault, we just came out on the right end of the stick.”
Fellow Playoff contenders and Toyota teammates Martin Truex Jr. (second) and Hamlin (seventh) also finished in the top-10, while Camry driver Matt Kenseth finished ninth to give Toyota four total top-10 finishes at the half-mile paperclip.
Toyota drivers led a combined 191 laps with Busch pacing the field for a race-high 184 circuits (of 505) en route to victory lane.
With the win, Busch is second in the driver point standings while Truex Jr. continues to lead and Hamlin sits in seventh.
In the NCWTS, Tundra driver Noah Gragson captured his first-career series victory at Martinsville Speedway on Saturday afternoon. Gragson battled series veteran and Toyota teammate Matt Crafton to the checkered flag following a late race restart. The 19-year-old led the final 10 laps, while Crafton paced the field for a race-high 102 laps and captured the stage one win.
“I’m just thankful for everyone who has brought me up in racing,” Gragson said. “I’m so very thankful. Man, I’m blown away.”
All three Tundra Playoff drivers logged top-10 finishes as Bell continues to lead the driver point standings while Crafton is third and Rhodes is fourth.
The three NASCAR national series next travel to Texas Motor Speedway Nov. 3-5 for the second of three races in the penultimate round of the 2017 Playoffs.
Shawn Langdon advanced to the Top Fuel semi-finals Sunday to lead Toyota before a sell-out crowd at the NHRA Toyota Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Langdon, who advanced to the final round in the previous event in Dallas, defeated championship contenders Antron Brown and Steve Torrence in the opening rounds before falling to eventual race winner Terry McMillen.
“To beat Antron Brown and Steve Torrence, it shows you the amount of talent we have on this Global Electronic Technology Toyota,” Langdon said. “We have had a car that’s capable of winning the last two races, we’re just running out of time now. One more race before I start my Funny Car venture and we’ll try to make the best of it at Pomona.”
While Langdon advanced to the semi-finals, Toyota championship contenders Doug Kalitta and Brown were eliminated in rounds one and two, respectively.
In Funny Car, the first round saw a pair of all-Camry match-ups with Alexis DeJoria defeating Cruz Pedregon, while Del Worsham earned the victory over J.R. Todd. DeJoria, who will make the final start of her career at Pomona, was eliminated in the second round by Courtney Force, while Worsham fell to eventual race winner Matt Hagan.
The NHRA season wraps up in two weeks with the season-finale at the Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, Calif., November 10-12.
Lisa Hughes Kennedy