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J.R. Todd, DHL Funny Car Involved in On-Track Incident; Will Race Backup Car at Winternationals

J.R. Todd and the DHL Toyota GR Supra team were involved in an on-track incident earlier today during the second round of qualifying for Sunday’s Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals at In-‘N-Out Burger Pomona Dragstrip. Neither driver was injured. The Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals is set for Sunday, April 2, 2012.

After Todd crossed the finish line in the left lane, driver John Force, who was in the right lane, crossed the center line, made contact with Todd’s car, hit the left wall, made contact with the front of Todd’s car and then made contact with the right wall before the cars came to rest near the center of the race track. Thanks to safety features created by Toyota, TRD and Kalitta Motorsports, Todd was uninjured in the incident.

Following the incident, the DHL Toyota GR Supra was not repairable. Team Kalitta unloaded a backup car and backup Toyota Supra body to prepare the final round of qualifying and Sunday’s race. The backup car is what Todd drove at the end of the 2022 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing season. Following preparation of the backup car, Todd explained what transpired:

What happened in the incident with John Force in the second round of qualifying?
“It was just a normal run. I was trucking down through there pretty good, get the chutes out before the finish line like normal – like you’re pretty much taught as a young driver, and that time, I feel like I paid the price for doing it. At first, I thought maybe he just got into my chutes or something, but next thing I know, I see him on my left side and we’re in the left lane. You’re not supposed to be there. After that, just sort of hanging on and steering away from him, steering away from the wall and trying to get on the brake to get the thing stopped. But when the chutes are tangled up like that, you’re just along for the ride. It’s really unfortunate because it was a brand-new car for us, beautiful car and worked really well. There’s nothing wrong with our car that we pulled out for Q3, but just new body and new car. I hate creating extra work for the guys, especially something silly like that.”

What is the feeling in the cockpit when something like this happens?
“It’s a helpless feeling. You’re not really in control at that point when the other guy is wrapped in your chutes or his chutes are wrapped around your car. I haven’t seen any video so I can’t really tell you exactly what happened. I just know he was dragging us along for the ride. It sucks. I don’t like tearing up stuff especially when it’s out of my control.”

Is there anything that could be done differently to avoid this from happening in the future?
“If I had a rearview mirror, I would have swerved to have gotten away from him. I don’t know. I can’t critique what he did or didn’t do because I haven’t seen the run. We made a nice, solid 3. 93 run and got the chutes out and the next thing I’m getting run over.”

What do you need to do with a new car and body to get ready for Sunday?
“Now we need to shake this car down and I’m sure it will be just fine. It’s the car we finished the season with last year and it ran really well. Hopefully we can go rip off a good run in Q3 and get ready for Sunday.”

With Todd’s the 3.93-second run at 328.86 mph Todd made before the incident, he is the No. 5 qualifier and will race No. 12 qualifier Alex Laughlin in the Sunday’s first round. DHL Top Fuel driver Shawn Langdon, who qualified No. 7, will race the No. 8 qualifier, Tony Schumacher. Doug Kalitta qualified No. 11 and will race No. 4 qualifier Antron Brown.

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