J.R. Todd and DHL Camry Racing for More History at Sonoma Nationals

Kalitta Motorsports

For J.R. Todd and the DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car team heading to Sonoma is a welcome change of pace and altitude. The Mile High NHRA Nationals last week proved to be a challenging event with high temperatures and tricky track conditions frustrating the reigning NHRA Funny Car championship team. Todd is looking at the Sonoma NHRA Nationals as a new start in his pursuit of his second Funny Car world championship. The challenge of the Western Swing is one that Todd relishes conquering.

“All three tracks are different. It will be hot in Sonoma so that can be tricky,” explained Todd. “We will get to run at night so that should be our best run. Seattle it just depends on the weather. That place can be fast but it is usually hot as well. When the conditions are right there are a lot of trees around there and you can produce a lot of power. All three tracks have different characteristics but I enjoy all three tracks. I have had success at all three.”

The success Todd has achieved at Sonoma Raceway has not been limited to one category. He is one of only two drivers to ever win in Top Fuel and Funny Car at the historic northern California track which is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2019.  The Funny Car champion has two Top Fuel wins and one Funny Car victory. The other driver to achieve this feat is NHRA legend and Hall of Famer Don “The Snake” Prudhomme who took the Funny Car title in 1989 and Top Fuel title in 1992.

“I think it is really cool Snake and I are the only drivers to have won Top Fuel and Funny Car at Sonoma,” said Todd. “I know if Shawn (Langdon) wins Funny Car he could join the club but I am going to do my best to pick up that second Funny Car win. Everything about at Sonoma Raceway is first class. The staff is amazing and the facility is one of my favorite tracks on the circuit.”

Sonoma Raceway is one of just a handful of multi-use facilities the NHRA competes on and is the only track that also hosts NASCAR and Indy Car events on the same racing surface. Todd has a number of friends in other racing series and the thought of sharing the track with them has the 9-time Funny Car national event winner excited to get to the races.

“I never even thought who NASCAR and Indy Car both race here until last week, but yeah it is kind of cool to be able to share the track with Indy Car guys or NASCAR guys and some of my buddies that race other forms of motorsports,” said Todd. “I wouldn’t say that I have an advantage as a driver at that track. Teams that I have been with have run well there. The Kalittas just seem like they have a good handle on that track. You are always happy to get to some place that is closer to sea level. We are hoping to go there and redeem ourselves.”

This season Todd has picked up one win at the Las Vegas NHRA Nationals and has raced to three final rounds, most recently at the Virginia NHRA Nationals. Since that final round Todd has picked up two No. 1 qualifiers but hasn’t advanced beyond the quarterfinals.

“I think we figured a few things out after Norwalk and we have grabbed a couple No. 1 qualifiers but we want to get those win lights on race day,” said Todd. “I missed an opportunity to get a win in the first round in Denver but I learned something from that loss. You have to take as many positives from a bad experience as possible out here. It is tough and there are no easy rounds. I have a great race car and I just need to get the most out of every run from Friday through Sunday.”

2018 Sonoma NHRA Nationals Highlights:  Qual. No. 15; Lost to Jack Beckman

Last Event Recap (2019 Mile High NHRA Nationals): Qual. 11; Lost to John Force

Quotable: J.R. Todd on heading to Sonoma: “I got the win in Sonoma my rookie year with my friend Eric Medlen. It was my second career Top Fuel win. To go back there ten years after we lost Eric and get a win with Team Kalitta in Connie’s car was special too. I got my first Funny Car win there. It is definitely a special place for me. It is probably my favorite track on the tour.”

Career Stats: 214 events, 206 starts, 227 round wins, 18 wins, 32 finals, 12 No. 1 qualifiers; in Funny Car: 62 events, 62 starts, 9 wins, 12 finals, 77 round wins, 3 No. 1 qualifiers

2019 Season:
Winternationals: Qual. No. 9; Lost to Bob Tasca III
Arizona Nationals: Qual. No. 5; RUNNER-UP; Beat Terry Haddock, Tommy Johnson Jr., Robert Hight, Lost to Matt Hagan
Gatornationals: Qual. No. 11; Lost to Jack Beckman
Las Vegas1: Qual. No. 4; WINNER; Beat Gary Densham and Jim Campbell in first quad, Matt Hagan and Jeff Diehl in second quad and in the final quad beat Tommy Johnson Jr., Jack Beckman and Tim Wilkerson.
Houston: Qual. No. 4; Beat Jim Campbell; Lost to Robert Hight
Charlotte1: Qual. No. 8; Beat Bob Tasca III and Bob Glibertson; Lost to Shawn Langdon and Robert Hight
Atlanta: Qual. No. 2; Beat Jim Campbell; Lost to Tommy Johnson Jr.
Richmond: Qual. No. 4; RUNNER-UP; Beat Bob Tasca III, Shawn Langdon, Jonnie Lindberg; Lost to Ron Capps
Chicago: Qual. No. 6; Lost to John Force
Topeka: Qual. No. 1; Beat bye; Lost to Robert Hight
Bristol: Qual. No. 5; Beat Terry Haddock; Lost to Jack Beckman
Norwalk: Qual. No. 7; Beat Robert Hight; Lost to John Force
Epping: Qual. No. 1; Beat bye; Lost to Tim Wilkerson
Denver: Qual. 11; Lost to John Force

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