The DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car team will be looking to pick up the last Southern Nationals Funny Car title this weekend at Atlanta Dragway with 10-time Funny Car winner J.R. Todd looking for his first win in the Peach State. The 2018 NHRA Funny Car champion already has one win this season at the historic Gatornationals and for the multi-category national event winner getting a second win of the season in the third race would set them up for a strong championship run.
“The season is a marathon not a sprint but you definitely want to get off to a strong start,” said Todd. “We got to some finals last year but didn’t seal the deal so winning the first race was a great way to start the 2021 season. We are No. 2 in the points right now but we want to stay at the top all season long. This is a tough class and you have to bring your best to the starting line every run.”
In the season opening win Todd’s DHL Toyota Camry was running flawlessly through the first three rounds and in the final Todd had to get the win with his pedaling skills after he surprisingly smoked the tires early in the run. The savvy driver was able to regain control and race to victory over Robert Hight who also had traction issues a second after Todd.
“That was a wild race and a great win for this DHL Toyota Camry team,” said Todd. “Everyone you pull beside in one of the race cars can put you on your trailer if you aren’t 100 percent ready to go. I worked a lot in the off-season at PitFit to get better as a driver and I think it paid off in Gainesville. I have a lot of confidence in this DHL team.”
Atlanta Dragway is the scene of one of Todd’s closest defeats at the hands of teammate Doug Kalitta. It was the last season Todd would be behind the wheel of a Top Fuel dragster and by less than .0001 of a second Todd was on the losing end of the closest race in Top Fuel history.
“That race was so close people still ask me about it when we come to Atlanta,” said Todd. “You see pictures of me and Doug at the finish line and you can’t tell who won in some of the shots. We were right there with him and it was a great race.”
Since that race Todd has recorded ten Funny Car victories and posted three No. 1 qualifier efforts behind the wheel of the DHL Toyota Funny Car. Getting a Southern Nationals Funny Car win at the final national event is the kind of history Todd would like to leave Georgia with at the end of the weekend.
“You hate to see any event drop off the schedule but to have the chance to be the last Funny Car winner of a race that has been around for 40 years would be awesome,” said Todd. “A lot of legendary Funny Car drivers have won this race. We made some history with our Gatornationals win and I would love to get another big win on the east coast.”
2019 NHRA Southern Nationals Highlights (event not contested in 2020): Qual. No. 2; Beat Jim Campbell; Lost to Tommy Johnson Jr.
Last Event Recap (2021 NHRA Las Vegas Four-Wide Nationals): Qual. No. 9; Beat Cruz Pedregon and Jonnie Lindberg; Lost to Ron Capps and Bob Tasca III
Career Stats: 237 events, 229 starts, 255 round wins, 19 wins, 36 finals, 12 No. 1 qualifiers; in Funny Car: 85 events, 85 starts, 10 wins, 16 finals, 107 round wins, 3 No. 1 qualifiers
Gatornationals: WINNER; Qual. No. 6; Beat Blake Alexander, Tim Wilkerson, Cruz Pedregon and Robert Hight
Las Vegas1: Qual. No. 9; Beat Cruz Pedregon and Jonnie Lindberg; Lost to Ron Capps and Bob Tasca III
Kalitta Motorsports PR