Two final round appearances, including a win at the season opening NHRA Gatornationals, so far this season have J.R. Todd ready to continue his pursuit of his second NHRA Funny Car world championship. The multi-talented driver will be working to earn his first Funny Car Winternationals title beginning this Friday at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona. In 2007 Todd won the Top Fuel title at the traditional season opening race. With the move of the event to the middle of the summer Todd knows conditions will play a major factor in everyone’s success.
“I bet it is going to be really hot,” predicted Todd, in advance of this weekend’s race. “Those conditions are the kind of conditions I like. I feel like we run really well when it is hot and nasty out like that. There is no doubt in my mind it will be like that and I don’t know what the schedule is but I am sure it is going to be tricky with the sun on the track. I love going to Pomona. It is going to feel weird being there in the middle of the summer and not February to start the season.”
The DHL Toyota Camry team will be battling to move back into position in the top half of the Funny Car Top Ten where they have resided most of the season. Currently, Todd is in sixth place but he is less than three rounds out of third place and less than 100 points behind the Funny Car point leader.
Todd has only failed to reach the quarterfinals one time this season which is a category best record in the first round. His DHL Toyota Camry has shown flashes of dominance and getting back to back races close to sea level will assist the team as they work to make consistent runs every time down the track.
“We just need to get three good qualifying runs and then string together some good runs on race day,” said Todd. “We have been aggressive and I like that. There are a handful of races before the Countdown and we definitely want to be as high up in the points as possible when they get reset. A good weekend at the Winternationals would go a long way.”
A successful weekend at Auto Club Raceway would also add Todd’s name to a legendary group of Winternationals winners. Only three drivers have won in both Top Fuel and Funny Car at the historic event. Hall of famers Don Prudhomme and Kenny Bernstein along with legendary driver Gary Scelzi, have all hoisted a Wally in each class. Todd picked up the Top Fuel title in 2007 and has been working towards a Winternationals Funny Car win since he made the switch. He has a win at the season ending Auto Club Finals but adding another win at the Winternationals would be a special accomplishment.
“You look at the drivers that have won Funny Car and Top Fuel at any event and they are all Hall of Famers like Prudhomme or Bernstein,” said Todd. “You definitely would like to see your name on a list with those guys but we are really just focusing on getting the best qualifying position and then getting as many round wins as possible on Sunday. The rest will take care of itself.”
2020 NHRA Winternationals Highlights: Qual. No. 8; Lost to Tim Wilkerson
Last Event Recap (2021 NHRA Sonoma Nationals): Qual. No. 12; Beat John Force; Lost to Robert Hight
Career Stats: 244 events, 236 starts, 263 round wins, 19 wins, 37 finals, 13 No. 1 qualifiers; in Funny Car: 92 events, 92 starts, 10 wins, 17 finals, 115 round wins, 4 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
Atlanta: Qual. No. 1; Beat Alexis DeJoria, bye; Lost to John Force
Charlotte1: RUNNER-UP; Qual. No.4; Beat Terry Haddock, Jim Campbell, Tim Wilkerson; Beat Mike McIntire, Terry Haddock; Lost to John Force, Beat Cruz Pedregon, Alexis DeJoria
Houston: Qual. No. 8; Beat John Force; Lost to Bob Tasca III
Epping: Qual. No. 9; Beat Cruz Pedregon, Lost to John Force
Norwalk: Qual. No. 9; Beat Mike McIntire, Lost to Ron Capps
Denver: Qual. No. 7; Lost to Bob Tasca III
Sonoma: Qual. No. 12; Beat John Force; Lost to Robert Hight
Kalitta Motorsports PR