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J.R. Todd’s Barometer Looking Positive

For J.R. Todd, the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge is a barometer for how the team is running, and after a one-race hiatus, Todd and the DHL GR Supra team are back in the special event. The 2024 NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Season resumes June 7-9, 2024, at the Super Grip NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals in Bristol, Tenn.

Todd won the season-opening NHRA Gatornationals in Florida and advanced to at least the semifinals at each of the season’s first six races including a final round at the NHRA 4-Wide Nationals near Charlotte. After a first-round loss in Chicago, Todd advanced to the semifinals last weekend in New Hampshire putting him back in the Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenge Saturday at Thunder Valley Dragway. During Saturday’s qualifying sessions, the drivers who reached the semifinals in Epping, N.H., will re-run the semifinals and final earning additional purse and championship bonus points. 

“It’s nice to see all three Kalitta cars working late on Sunday and Dougie (Mac Tools Driver Doug Kalitta) and Shawn (Kalitta Air Careers Driver Shawn Langdon) in contention on a regular basis,” Todd said. “The DHL car has been to every semifinal this season except one so that’s a good trend; we just need to keep that momentum going and not get complacent. I’ve been saying it all season – as long as we keep making those Mission Foods races, we’ll be in pretty good shape. That’s what I said after we won that first race of the season. If we can make all of those, we should be in a good points position because you know you’re making to semifinals each week, but at the end of the day, we’re out there to win, not just go to the semifinals.”

Todd qualified third last weekend equaling his best qualifying showing of the season. It was a welcome showing powered by strong runs in three of the four qualifying sessions followed by solid runs on race day. That said, the DHL GR Supra team was a bit behind the John Force Racing entries in qualifying and on race day.

“We definitely have to capitalize on the Friday night run like we did last race, but we have to be better in the heat,” Todd said. “Typically, that’s where we’ve excelled, but the Force teams have definitely figured something out this year. They have the upper hand by probably five hundredths (of a second) or so, and that’s something we have to figure out because we went to the semis again which is good, but we managed to lose ground to them so we can’t afford to keep losing to those guys.”

The racing surface at Thunder Valley Dragway was repaved this year making the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals the first premier series event on the new track. The bumps in the track that perplexed teams in the past will hopefully be gone.

“Anytime a track they don’t race on a lot is repaved, it usually takes a couple runs for the rubber to get worked in so hopefully that’s not an issue going into the weekend,” Todd added. “Bristol is kind of a neat place on its own with some characteristics of the track there before the repave so we’ll see how it shakes out. It’s definitely a place I like racing. We’ve run well there in the past but haven’t picked up a win so hopefully we can change that this weekend.”

This story was originally published on June 5, 2024. Drag Illustrated

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