Every race in important during the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series. Throughout the regular season teams are jockeying for position to qualify got the Countdown as one of the Top Ten teams. Once the Countdown seven-race playoffs begin drivers are working to move up or hold onto their point leads. J.R. Todd and the DHL Toyota Camry team are looking at this critical race at the Thunder Valley Nationals as a turning point in their championship aspirations. With three races left and sitting in fifth place they could easily make a move to get within striking distance of the Funny Car point leaders but that move must happen now.
“We have been in a tight group with the top Funny Car teams all season and even into the Countdown,” said Todd, a 10-time Funny Car national event winner. “Over the past couple of races a few cars have gotten some separation, but we are still in the mix. I love racing at Bristol Dragway and I am looking for some good runs this weekend.”
Todd started the season with a win at the historic Gatornationals and has showcased his team’s performance and his driving skills throughout the rest of the year. The 2018 Funny Car world champion added three more runner-up finishes to his 2021 record including back-to-back finals in Pomona and Topeka heading into the Countdown. During the playoffs Todd and his DHL Toyota team have been undefeated in first round match-up regardless of their qualifying position and the overall consistency of the team is something Todd feels will pay dividends over the final playoff stretch.
“We have a really good race car and we can definitely race with anyone out here,” said Todd. “All we need to do is make some solid runs in qualifying and then race the track on Sunday.”
Todd has collected some dramatic round wins throughout the season going back to his pedaling job at the Gatornationals to get his first win of 2021 against Robert Hight. In the first round of the U.S. Nationals his race car smoked the tires early and he once again got off the throttle and then chased down Jim Campbell for the win in dramatic fashion. He has also collected numerous wins via the hole shot by grabbing a starting line advantage with a superior reaction time.
“This is a team effort and everyone over on this DHL Toyota team contributes,” said Todd. “I have won some races pedaling this Toyota Funny Car and there have been a lot of times when Todd’s (crew chief Todd Smith) tune up has just out run our opponent. We are all working together with one goal in mind and that is winning every race we enter. We have three more races left this season and we are looking to try and win all three.”
2019 NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals Highlights (event not contested in 2020): Qual. No. 5; Beat Terry Haddock; Lost to Jack Beckman
Last Event Recap (2021 Texas NHRA Fall Nationals): Qual. No. 8; Beat Tim Wilkerson, Robert Hight; Lost to Matt Hagan
Career Stats: 251 events, 243 starts, 276 round wins, 19 wins, 39 finals, 14 No. 1 qualifiers; in Funny Car: 99 events, 99 starts, 10 wins, 19 finals, 128 round wins, 5 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
Pomona1: RUNNER-UP; Qual. No. 7; Beat Jeff Diehl, Robert Hight, Jim Campbell; Lost to Ron Capps
Topeka: RUNNER-UP; Qual. No. 1; Beat Bye, Ron Capps, Blake Alexander; Lost to John Force
Brainerd: Qual. No. 11; Beat Robert Hight, Tim Wilkerson; Lost to Cruz Pedregon
Indianapolis: Qual. No. 5; Beat Jim Campbell; Lost to Cruz Pedregon
Reading: Qual. No. 7; Beat Alexis DeJoria, Cruz Pedregon; Lost to Tommy Johnson Jr.
Charlotte2: Qual. No. 6; Beat Mike McIntire; Lost to Cruz Pedregon
St. Louis: Qual. No. 9; Beat Tim Wilkerson; Lost to Matt Hagan
Dallas: Qual. No. 8; Beat Tim Wilkerson, Robert Hight; Lost to Matt Hagan
Kalitta Motorsports PR