J.R. Todd’s season has undergone quite an evolution. He and his DHL GR Supra team went from pre-season title contender through a rough patch, and now, Todd has advanced to at least the semifinals at five of the last six races, including a win and a runner-up finish. With two races remaining in the regular season, Todd is closing in on title-contender status. The NHRA Camping World Drag Racing season continues this weekend with the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals Aug. 18-20 in Brainerd, Minn.
Todd won the Denso NHRA Sonoma Nationals in California last month; it was his first win in some two years, and it followed multiple semifinal showings and a runner-up finish. Last week’s semifinal finish in Topeka, Kan., was another step forward in the team’s resurgence. In stifling heat followed by a six-hour race-day rain delay, the team forged ahead. Despite his recent upward mobility, Todd is eighth in the NHRA Funny Car point standings, but with tight point totals all around, he could definitely make significant strides in the regular season’s final two races.
“It was a hot one in Kansas, and my guys continued to rise to the occasion,” Todd said. “We lost a close one (to Matt Hagan) in the semis, but we get to do it all over again in a few days – time to fight it out! It’s getting harder and harder to win in this class. The car is definitely turning the corner and going to the later rounds consistently. Our points don’t really reflect what we’ve done over the last month, but that doesn’t take anything away from the progress we’ve made.”
That fight, and hopefully the progress, too, will continue this weekend in Brainerd, where Todd has yet to hoist a winner’s trophy. For the fourth time in as many races, Todd will compete in the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge in a rematch of last week’s Topeka, Kan., semifinals and finals. To those competitors go the spoils of Countdown bonus points.
“We’re in the Mission deal (Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge) again on Saturday so we can earn some bonus points for the Countdown, and that can make a big difference,” Todd added. “We’re trying to win another race before the Countdown starts, and we have a car that’s capable of doing that. It shows the consistency of our car and that our team is definitely coming around; it means we’re going to the semis more than not, and if we can get two points out of it this Saturday, that would give us a round win’s worth of Countdown points (through Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenge), and that could make a big difference. Either way, you just want to get as many points as possible before the Countdown starts.
“When you’re in Phoenix and places like that early in the season, you’re definitely aware of bonus points, but you aren’t counting them. Now, you start to pay attention to your position and how many guys are in front of you, but at the end of the day, you just have to win rounds and races and let the points fall where they may. It doesn’t really change the way that I approach driving as far as trying to win rounds, but I like when the intensity ramps up as the Countdown approaches. I don’t ever want the season to fly by, but in my opinion, the second half of the season is the best part.”