J.R. Todd Jumps to Third in Points with Runner-Up Finish at Bristol Dragway

Gary Nastase Photography

J.R. Todd and the DHL Toyota Camry raced to the final round and runner-up honors today at the 20th NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at historic Bristol Dragway. The 2018 NHRA Funny Car champion re-inserted himself into the Funny Car championship chase moving from fifth place to third place in the Camping World championship point standings. Starting from the No. 12 qualifier position Todd took out the points leader and No. 3 qualifier Matt Hagan in a huge first round match-up. In the second round he trailered 16-time Funny Car champion John Force before outrunning Ron Capps another driver who ended the day as the points leader but is only 83 points ahead of Todd, with two races remaining. In a final round for the ages Todd squared off with Toyota Racing teammate Alexis DeJoria, the event No. 1 qualifier. At the end of the day even without a victory Todd understood the magnitude of the three win lights he did earn.

“There is nothing I would have done differently in that final,” said Todd. “You are not going to beat a .002 light and a 3.92 on the race track. That is unbelievable. All in all, a great day for the Yella Fellas. It just shows what kind of team I have behind me with everything that has gone on the last three races. It was a good points day, but I just wanted that one bad. The kind of day we had today is the day you dream about as a driver, and I just want to finish it off. There is nothing we could have done differently in the final.”

In the final Todd and DeJoria crossed the finish line side by side with elapsed times of 3.939 and 3.921 seconds at 327.66 and 326.32 mph, respectively. Throughout the day Todd and the DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car were consistently one of the quickest and fastest race cars. Todd’s opening round run of 3.924 seconds far outpaced Hagan’s 3.958 second run and Todd never trailed in that contest getting the jump off the starting line as well.

In the quarterfinal against Force Todd left first and outran Force winning with a 3.916 second pass to Force’s 4.118. In a critical semifinal against Capps, the new points leader, it was Todd once again with a powerful race car winning 3.921 to 3.972 seconds. The big wins and jump in points were reminiscent of Todd’s late Countdown charge in 2018 that led to his first championship. The veteran driver thinks there are some similarities but knows this season is its own journey.

“We were in a little better position in 2018,” said Todd. “Going into the Countdown this year I knew that we had a good enough car and team to contend for a championship. We have had some hiccups along the way, but we are still in the hunt. We have to keep our heads up and keep fighting.”

The two days of qualifying were tough for the team, but they never gave up on working towards a solid tune up for a tricky track. Entering the day as the No. 12 Funny Car did not deter the team from focusing on the task at had as well as the opportunity to control their own destiny.

“We stunk up the show in qualifying and that just goes to show you it really doesn’t matter out here on race day,” said Todd. “Honestly, it kind of worked in our favor getting the draws on the ladder that we had. That helped us because you can’t make up ground on these guys when they are going to the later rounds. We didn’t sandbag in qualifying but it just kind of worked out in our favor. At the end of the day, we want to come out here and make good solid runs every time down the track. These guys don’t give up and that showed today. I want to give them my all and there is nothing I would have changed in that final. Nine times out of ten we win that one.”

Todd will head to The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway third in the point standings and riding momentum to a track where he has a history of success.

Qualified: No. 12 (5.703 sec, 122.17 mph
Bonus points: 0

Race Details:

First Round
Driver                                  Qual       R/T         ET           MPH  
J. R. Todd                           12           .069       3.924     324.90 (W)
Matt Hagan                          3             .084       3.958     326.16

Second Round
Driver                                  Qual       R/T         ET           MPH  
J. R. Todd                           12           .051       3.916     328.78 (W)         
John Force                           6             .063       4.118     324.59

Semifinal Round
Driver                                  Qual       R/T         ET           MPH  
J. R. Todd                           12           .072       3.921     327.82 (W)         
Ron Capps                           2             .050       3.972     318.99

Final Round
Driver                                  Qual       R/T         ET           MPH  
J. R. Todd                           12           .067       3.939     326.32
Alexis DeJoria                      1             .002       3.921     327.66 (W)

Kalitta Motorsports PR

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