A dozen of the most accomplished drivers and teams in Funny Car will battle it out for $250,000 at the inaugural SCAG Power Equipment PRO Superstar Shootout presented by Johnson’s Horsepowered Garage. Past world champion J.R. Todd, who now calls Florida home, will be one of those drivers looking to start the 2024 season with a big-money win Feb. 8-10 at Bradenton Motorsports Park.
The significance of the opportunity isn’t lost on Todd, who drives the DHL Toyota GR Supra for Kalitta Motorsports. The invitation-only list of drivers set to take part in the PRO Superstar Shootout include fellow world champions, record holders, and seasoned veterans. But only one of them will be able to say they won the first-ever PRO Superstar Shootout.
“You’re competing against the best of the best,” said Todd, the 2018 NHRA Funny Car world champion. “It’s invite-only and the ones that are on the list are the best that the sport has to offer in nitro Funny Car. If you’re able to win this event, it’s a pretty big notch on your belt, being that you’re the first one to win an invite-only event like this.”
The invited drivers will get four qualifying attempts to make it into the elite eight-car field for Saturday eliminations. After that, the qualifying order doesn’t matter, as pairings in the first two rounds of eliminations will be determined by a random chip draw. It’s one of the unique elements of the PRO Superstar Shootout, but Todd doesn’t think it will alter the Todd Smith and Jon Oberhofer-led team’s race day strategy.
“I think you just gotta go up there and throw down,” Todd said. “There’s no ducks, so it’s not like you’re No. 1 qualifier racing against No. 16. You’re racing against the best seven cars that there are in Funny Car. I wouldn’t change my approach as a driver, and I doubt the crew chiefs are going to change how they tune the car. It’s just the element of surprise, not knowing who you’re going to race until you draw that chip.”
Like many of the drivers on the lineups for Funny Car, Top Fuel, and Pro Stock, Todd has never competed at Bradenton Motorsports Park. He did earn his Super Comp license there when he was 16, but there’s something different about actually competing. Plus, doing it in a nitromethane-burning Funny Car with $250,000 on the line is an entirely different ballgame.
“You always want to be the first one to win an event at a track we’ve never been to,” said Todd, an 11-time Funny Car winner and nine-time Top Fuel winner in NHRA competition. “It would definitely be a big notch, winning a first-ever event like this for drag racing. Everybody wants to be the first. Hopefully the event keeps going, but you always want to be the first one to win it.”
Todd will be joined at the PRO Superstar Shootout by Kalitta Motorsports teammates Doug Kalitta, the reigning NHRA Top Fuel world champion, and Shawn Langdon, the 2013 Top Fuel world champ. Both drivers will also be racing for $250,000 to win in Top Fuel, while Pro Stock will compete for $125,000 to win.
Tickets for the inaugural SCAG Power Equipment PRO Superstar Shootout presented by JHG are now on sale at https://bit.ly/scagpro. Fans at home can tune in to the official FloRacing livestream at https://flosports.link/3t04gHk.