GLENDORA, CA – November 7, 2016 – (Motor Sports Newswire) – The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship hasn’t quite turned out like J.R. Todd has planned, but the Top Fuel standout still has at least one big goal remaining this season.
Currently sixth in points, Todd has a chance to join Kalitta Motorsports teammate Doug Kalitta in the top five with a strong finish at this weekend’s Auto Club NHRA Finals at historic Auto Club Raceway in Pomona. With Antron Brown already clinching his second straight world championship, Todd, just 14 points out of fourth, has changed his focus to finishing as well as he possibly can in his 10,000-horsepower SealMaster dragster.
“Once the championship was out of sight, my goal has been to finish in the top five,” Todd said. “That would say a lot about our organization having both dragsters finish inside the top five. Going back to this summer, I felt like we had one of the best cars and that we would battle it out for the championship. We may have peaked a little early. Our SealMaster team is made up of mostly new guys or guys in new spots, so I’m really happy with the direction and performance of our hot rod.”
Shawn Langdon (Top Fuel), Del Worsham (Funny Car), Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of the season-ending event that will aired for the first time on FOX Sports 1 this November. On Sunday, FS1 will televise three hours of live finals coverage starting at 4 p.m. (ET). It is the final race of the 2016 season and Todd knows how much a win at Pomona means.
Todd posted three final round appearances in a four-race stretch over the summer, getting a victory in Sonoma, but struggled out of the gates in the Countdown to the Championship, losing in the first round at two of the first three races. That ended his championship aspirations, but Todd has come on strong to close out the year. He advanced to the final round at the most recent race in Las Vegas and could add even more momentum to the off-season with an Auto Club NHRA Finals victory.
“Pomona is one of my favorite tracks on the tour,” Todd said. “There’s always a different feeling when you pull in the gates there. That place packs a lot of history and finishing off the 2016 season with a win will for sure help the winter go by easier. It’s good to keep everybody’s morale up going into the offseason and what better way than to win, and we definitely have a car right now that is capable.”
A victory, or at least a strong showing in Pomona, also gives Todd and the rest of his standout team a head start on 2017. His primary sponsor, SealMaster, is back and the rest of the Kalitta Motorsports organization is gearing up another championship run next year. With a strong season that included Countdown to the Championship berths from all four-time cars (Todd, Kalitta and Funny Car drivers Worsham and Alexis DeJoria), Todd knows the future is bright for the entire group.
“Having SealMaster back for 2017 takes a huge load off and it’s great to have SealMaster and all of their franchisees back with us,” Todd said. “I’d like to think that we are a key in helping their company grow and in turn they are for sure a major key in us going after the 2017 Mello Yello championship. We have our work cut out for us but we have already tested some things for next year so that we can hit the track running when we unload for the Winternationals. I’m excited about 2017.”
Ron Capps is closing in on his first Funny Car world championship. Capps, who has five wins and 10 final rounds appearances in 2016, currently leads teammate Matt Hagan by 86 points heading into the final race.
Two former Pro Stock champions, Greg Anderson and Jason Line, are in a tight points battle, with Line and his eight wins this season leading Anderson by just 19 points.
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, one of the trio of defending champion Andrew Hines, Krawiec and Jerry Savoie will be crowned champion. Hines and Krawiec are both tied for the points lead, while Savoie’s win in Vegas has him just three points back.
The Auto Club NHRA Finals also features competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series. As always, fans have the opportunity to interact with their favorite drivers as they’re granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet.
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying feature two rounds at 12:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 11, and two final qualifying rounds on Saturday, Nov. 12, at 12:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 13.
Tickets are available at NHRA.com/tickets or by calling 1-800-884-NHRA. Kids 12 & under can see it all for free with a general admission ticket, while all students can save 50 percent on general admission at the gate with a student ID.
AUTO CLUB NHRA FINALS FACT SHEET
WHAT: 52nd annual Auto Club NHRA Finals, the final of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series and the final of six races in the NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship playoffs. Drivers in four categories – Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle – earn points leading to 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series world championships.
WHERE: Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, Pomona, Calif. Track is located off I-10 at Fairplex Drive. From I-10, go north on Fairplex drive and follow the signs to Auto Club Raceway at the Fairplex.
COURSE: Championship drag strip; Track elevation is 1,100 feet above sea level; Track direction is north to south.
WHEN: Thursday through Sunday, Nov. 10-13
THURSDAY, Nov. 10 – LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying
FRIDAY, Nov. 11 – LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at noon and 3 p.m.
SATURDAY, Nov. 12 – LUCAS OIL SERIES eliminations
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at noon and 3 p.m.
SUNDAY, Nov. 13 – Pre-race ceremonies, 10 a.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES eliminations begin at 11 a.m.
Friday Nov. 11, FS1 will televise one hour of live qualifying coverage at 11:30 p.m. (ET).
Sunday Nov. 13, FS1 will televise one hour of qualifying coverage at 11:30 a.m. (ET).
Sunday, Nov. 13, FS1 will televise three hours of live finals coverage starting at 4 p.m. (ET).
2015 EVENT WINNERS:
Shawn Langdon, Top Fuel; Del Worsham, Funny Car; Allen Johnson, Pro Stock; Eddie Krawiec, Pro Stock Motorcycle.
John Force, FC, 8; Kenny Bernstein, TF-FC, 6; Greg Anderson, PS, 5; Bob Glidden, PS, 5; John Myers, PSM, 5; Warren Johnson, PS, 4; Dave Schultz, PSM, 4; Tony Schumacher, TF, 4.
Top Fuel – 3.700 sec. by Shawn Langdon, Feb. ’14 and 332.34 mph by Langdon, Nov. ’15
Funny Car – 3.884 sec. by Jack Beckman, Nov. ’15 and 331.45 by Matt Hagan, Nov. ’15
Pro Stock – 6.480 sec. by Erica Enders, Nov. ’14 and 213.84 mph by Drew Skillman, Nov. ’15
Pro Stock Motorcycle – 6.766 sec. by Andrew Hines, Nov. ’12; 198.29 mph by Eddie Krawiec, Nov. ’12
Top Fuel – 3.671 sec. by Steve Torrence, July ’16, Sonoma, Calif.; 332.75 mph by Spencer Massey, Aug. ’15, Brainerd, Minn.
Funny Car – 3.822 by Matt Hagan, Aug. ’16, Brainerd, Minn.; 335.57 mph by Hagan, May ’16, Topeka, Kan.
Pro Stock – 6.455 sec. by Jason Line, March ’15, Charlotte, N.C.; 215.55 mph by Erica Enders, May ‘14, Englishtown N.J.
PS Motorcycle – 6.728 sec. by Andrew Hines, Oct. ’12, Reading, Pa.; 199.88 mph by Hector Arana Jr., March ’15, Charlotte, N.C.
TICKETS: For tickets call (800) 884-NHRA (6472). Tickets also available online at www.NHRA.com/tickets.
GLENDORA, CA — Point standings (top 10) following the 16th annual NHRA Toyota Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the 23rd of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series –
1. Antron Brown, 2,581*; 2. Steve Torrence, 2,424; 3. Doug Kalitta, 2,413; 4. Brittany Force, 2,366; 5. Shawn Langdon, 2,365; 6. J.R. Todd, 2,352; 7. Leah Pritchett, 2,334; 8. Tony Schumacher, 2,332; 9. Clay Millican, 2,232; 10. Richie Crampton, 2,227.
1. Ron Capps, 2,546; 2. Matt Hagan, 2,460; 3. Tommy Johnson Jr., 2,433; 4. Jack Beckman, 2,395; 5. John Force, 2,387; 6. Del Worsham, 2,373; 7. Courtney Force, 2,334; 8. Robert Hight, 2,313; 9. Tim Wilkerson, 2,262; 10. Alexis DeJoria, 2,184.
1. Jason Line, 2,532; 2. Greg Anderson, 2,513; 3. Shane Gray, 2,438; 4. Vincent Nobile, 2,394; 5. Drew Skillman, 2,371; 6. Bo Butner, 2,369; 7. Chris McGaha, 2,275; 8. Allen Johnson, 2,245; 9. Jeg Coughlin, 2,177; 10. Erica Enders, 2,167.
Pro Stock Motorcycle
1. (tie) Andrew Hines, 2,509; Eddie Krawiec, 2,509; 3. Jerry Savoie, 2,506; 4. Angelle Sampey, 2,399; 5. Chip Ellis, 2,359; 6. LE Tonglet, 2,340; 7. Cory Reed, 2,281; 8. Matt Smith, 2,277; 9. Hector Arana, 2,245; 10. Hector Arana Jr, 2,236.
* Clinched Top Fuel Championship
About National Hot Rod Association
Headquartered in Glendora, Calif., NHRA is the primary sanctioning body for the sport of drag racing in the United States. NHRA presents 23 national events featuring the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series and NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series. NHRA provides competition opportunities for drivers of all levels in the NHRA Summit Racing Series and the NHRA Drags: Street Legal Style presented by AAA. NHRA also offers NHRA Jr. Street for teens and the Summit Racing Jr. Drag Racing League for youth ages 5 to 17. In addition, NHRA owns and operates five racing facilities: Atlanta Dragway in Georgia; Auto-Plus Raceway at Gainesville in Florida; National Trail Raceway in Ohio; Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis; and Auto Club Raceway at Pomona in Southern California. For more information, log on to NHRA.com, or visit the official NHRA pages on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
Source: National Hot Rod Association