J.R. Todd will have a duel focus this weekend at Texas Motorplex: promoting breast cancer awareness with the DHL #AsOneAgainstCancer livery and logging some round wins to get his team headed back in the right direction. Todd and his DHL Toyota Team entered the NHRA Playoffs riding a solid wave of momentum after climbing to fifth in points and preparing to announce themselves as title contenders, but then, things changed. The NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series resumes this weekend at the NHRA Fall Nationals in Ennis, Texas, the fourth of six races that make up the Countdown to the Championship NHRA Playoffs.
When things aren’t going as planned for any team, it’s time to practice. On its way back to its Michigan race shop, the DHL GR Supra team made a stop in Indianapolis to test and prepare for the second half of the Countdown. At the playoff midpoint, the team has one round win to show for its Countdown efforts – a far cry from the impressive performance of regular season’s final three months so this test session could not have come at a better time.
“We went down the track three out of four runs (in testing) so that was good,” Todd said. “We have something to work on for Dallas – that’s for sure. I just hope conditions are somewhat similar to what we had in testing in Indy, but either way, we were struggling to get down the track cleanly the last three races so that was something we needed to work on. I think doing that in testing should give us something to work with going into the next race.”
The last three races definitely altered the outlook – to go from regularly winning rounds and contending for race wins to struggling to get down the track is frustrating at best…especially when it happens during the most important part of the season.
“You wait all season long for this part of the year – it’s what you gear up for and earn all those points for, and then to go in the Countdown fifth is kind of where you want to be to make up some ground on the championship favorites,” the 2018 Funny Car champion said. “We didn’t make that happen so it’s frustrating, but you can’t quit or give up. You go out there and do the best you can.
“In my mind the only way we have a chance to win the championship for DHL, Revchem, Toyota and SealMaster is to win the next three races, and those top four guys have to falter. We definitely backed ourselves into a corner in those first two Countdown races. We probably needed to win St. Louis to have a good shot at it, but it’s not over until someone tells us it’s over. Either way, we just need to go out there and try to win – that’s always the game plan.
“The pressure is not on us at this point – I’d rather be in that top four where they’re really mixing it up. It’s gonna go down to Pomona unless one of them falters, but for us, we have nothing to lose so it kind of changes your mindset. Those top four are probably pretty tense with the competitive juices flowing, whereas, for us, we have nothing to lose, so we’ll go out there and try to win.”