LAS VEGAS, NV – October 24, 2017 – (Motor Sports Newswire) – In his first year competing in Funny Car, J.R. Todd has managed to carve out a handful of big moments, winning a pair of races, including the prestigious race in Indy, and qualifying for the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship. There have been bumps as well, including first-round losses at each of the past three playoff races.
Determined to put those behind him heading into the final two events, Todd is hunting for one final highlight in his 10,000-horsepower DHL Toyota Camry to cap off his 2017 season. Getting one at this weekend’s NHRA Toyota Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, replicating his first Funny Car win at the Toyota-sponsored race in Sonoma, would make for an added bonus.
“We always want to perform well in front of our sponsors,” said Todd, who is ninth in points. “Toyota is a great supporter of Kalitta Motorsports and all of our cars have run well at the Vegas race so we’re hoping to check off another win in front of the higher ups from Toyota. Our DHL/WIX Filters team is a winning team and we want to finish strong with a top five finish in points.”
Steve Torrence (Top Fuel), John Force (Funny Car), Shane Gray (Pro Stock) and Jerry Savoie (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of the event that will be televised on FOX Sports 1 (FS1), including live final eliminations coverage starting at 4:00 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, Oct. 29. It is the 23rd of 24 races during the 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season and the fifth of sixth playoff events, leaving Todd little time to make that final jump into the top five.
The string of first-round exits dropped him from fifth to ninth, but the good news is Todd is still within striking distance of that spot, sitting only 70 points behind fifth-place Matt Hagan. Todd, who had nine career Top Fuel wins before making the move to Funny Car this year, won’t be tracking down points leader Ron Capps, but he still has plenty to race for in Vegas. That includes showing more consistency and possibly closing out the season with a third victory.
“We show up to every race to win,” said Todd, who has 11 career victories. “Finishing strong at the end of the year, it gets everybody a little more pumped up for 2018. I’d love to win in Vegas this weekend. I’ve done well in the past but have never won there.”
His Kalitta Motorsports teammates have done well at the facility, with Doug Kalitta, in the hunt for his first Top Fuel world championship, and retiring Funny Car teammate Alexis DeJoria combining for three wins at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway since 2014.
Todd would like to add his name to that list, extending the team’s success at Toyota-sponsored events, but doing so won’t be easy. Reigning world champ Capps has posted eight victories this season, holding a slim 24-point lead against hard-charging Robert Hight, representing a pair of tough standouts Todd has faced off with all season. The class is loaded with talent and the 330-plus mph Funny Cars present a major challenge, but Todd has enjoyed the journey thus far.
“I knew switching to Funny Car this year would be a challenge,” Todd said. “We are constantly working on things to help me drive better. In order to beat great drivers like Matt Hagan and Ron Capps, you need to find every little advantage you can inside in the car.”
Defending Top Fuel event winner Torrence has his sights on his first world championship. The eight-time 2017 winner leads Brittany Force and Doug Kalitta by 57 and 76 points, respectively.
Greg Anderson is after a fifth world title in Pro Stock, and will likely have to hold off a KB Racing teammate to do it. Bo Butner is 15 points back, while reigning champ Jason Line is 30 points out.
Pro Stock Motorcycle points behind leader Eddie Krawiec will try to inch closer to a fourth world title in Vegas, and currently leads LE Tonglet by 107 points.
The NHRA Toyota Nationals will also feature thrilling competition in the NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series as well as the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series. After Nitro qualifying, watch the spectacular Muy Caliente Racing jet dragsters sponsored by Lucas Oil, along with the eye lighting Black Pearl Jet Funny Car from Douthit Motorsports. Known for their exciting pre-run flame shows and after burner pops, jet cars are thrust driven vehicles propelled by jet engines.
As always, fans can 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. This unique opportunity in motorsports gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to see firsthand the highly-skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds, and get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers. Fans also will want to visit NHRA’s popular Nitro Alley and Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create a carnival atmosphere, with interactive displays, simulated competitions, merchandise, food and fun for the entire family.
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 1:45 p.m. and 4:15 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 27, and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, Oct. 28, at 1:15 a.m. and 3:45 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 29.
To purchase general-admission or reserved seats, call 800-644-4444 or 702-644-4444. Tickets also are available online at www.lvms.com. Kids 12 and under are free in general admission areas with a paid adult. To honor the Salute to First Responders, military and first responders can save 20 percent on general admission tickets at the gate. For more info, visit www.NHRA.com.
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 24 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. National Hot Rod Association 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 program 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; Gainesville Raceway 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