Todd claims first Funny Car win

JR Todd

JR Todd

Race Recap: After a second straight first round win in Denver, J.R. Todd and the DHL Toyota team were looking for even more success in Sonoma, where Todd was the reigning Top Fuel winner.

Todd and the DHL Toyota team, led by Jon Oberhofer and Todd Smith, were solid in qualifying with three clean passes including two passes in the three-second range at the warm Sonoma Raceway. 

Todd would earn the 10th starting spot. Unfortunately, his teammate, Alexis DeJoria, was the seventh seed leading to a first round matchup of the two Toyota Racing Camrys. Todd got the advantage over DeJoria at the starting line and was able to take that advantage to the stripe, earning the holeshot round win.

That advanced him to the quarterfinals where he faced John Force for the first time. Todd was away first again, and his crew chiefs, Jon Oberhofer and Todd Smith, were on it with the best run of the session, a 3.973, giving Todd the round win to move to the semi-finals. 

His semi-final draw was Jack Beckman. Todd’s DHL Toyota Camry had immediate issues, but never gave up. Beckman was ahead but broke and was idling down the track. Todd pedaled and pedaled, got the DHL Toyota to cooperate, and he was able to just drive by Beckman at the stripe moving Todd to the final round for the first time in since Charlotte and the second time in his short Funny Car career.

In the final, Todd drew Tim Wilkerson. Todd was away first and drove his DHL Toyota straight down the track to defeate a tire-smoking Tim Wilkerson. 

Todd scored many records in victory including becoming the first African-American Funny Car winner, first former Junior Dragster competitor to win in Funny Car and the 16th driver in NHRA history to win both nitro classes. He becomes the first driver in Traxxas Shootout history to compete in both classes. 

Qualified: No. 10 (3.947 sec., 329.50 mph)

  • E1: Todd defeated DeJoria  – 3.953 sec., 326.08 mph to 3.950 sec., 309.84 mph
  • E2: Todd defeated J. Force – 3.973 sec., 324.90 mph to 4.030 sec., 323.50 mph
  • E3: Todd defeated Beckman – 5.741 sec., 283.73 mph to 5.920 sec., 118.43 mph
  • Final: Todd defeated Wilkerson – 4.049 sec., 323.27 mph to 6.823 sec., 100.26 mph

Quotable: “I was able to win here last year in Top Fuel and to be able to do it this year in a Funny Car is pretty special. I love this track. This place is magical.”

“It’s cool. To me, it doesn’t matter if you’re black, white, purple, guy or girl, you go out there and race as hard as you can. People don’t know what I look like when I’ve got the helmet on. It was cool when I did it in Denver and they told me about it after I won there. I had no idea. I was just happy to win my first Top Fuel event and I feel the same way now. I’m just happy to win a Funny Car event.”

“It’s always special to come back here with the history of Eric winning here and we won here together in 2006. They honor him every year. His mom, Mimi, came up to me yesterday with a picture from (artist) Kenny Youngblood just like she did last year, but this year it’s our DHL Toyota Funny Car. So I had that with me every round today and it worked out again. It’s pretty awesome to come back here and win in Funny Car because Eric was extremely passionate about Funny Cars. I think he’d be pretty happy about that.”

Point Standings: Ninth; trails Tim Wilkerson by three points for eighth; leads Cruz Pedregon by 154 points for 10th

Doug Kalitta

Kalitta claims round win

Race Recap: Sonoma Raceway will always have a special place in the memory banks for Doug Kalitta. The Mac Tools driver scored his first No.1 qualifier and race win here in 1998 and is the all-time winner in Top Fuel with five victories. 

Kalitta had another strong performance in qualifying. The Mac Tools Toyota scored bonus points in three of the four qualifying sessions. He earned the third starting spot with a 3.694 second effort in the Friday evening session.

In the first round, Kalitta faced rookie contender Shawn Reed. They were identical off of the line, but the Mac Tools machine was rolling away quickly. Reed suffered problems, and Kalitta was clean to the stripe to score the round win. 

In the second round, Kalitta just missed scoring lane choice against the points leader Steve Torrence. Unfortunately, Kalitta had near immediate tire smoke. He pedaled but Torrence was on a solid lap to score the round win.

Qualified: No. 3 (3.694 sec., 331.28 mph)

  • E1: Kalitta defeated Reed – 3.751 sec., 330.07 mph to 8.466 sec., 79.16 mph
  • E2: Kalitta defeated by Torrence – 7.030 sec., 106.28 mph to 3.760 sec., 327.90 mph

Quotable: “The Mac Tools team is running strong; just too much power in the second round. I am proud of my guys and know we will have a car to contend next weekend in Seattle.

Point Standings: Sixth; trails Brittany Force by two points for fifth; leads Clay Millican by 72 points for seventh.

Shawn Langdon

Langdon continues run of early round success

Race Recap: The Global Electronic Technology team and driver Shawn Langdon focused on their goal of continued to gain on the top ten in the point standings.

They helped their case with a good showing in Toyota Sonoma Nationals qualifying. The Global Electronic Technology Toyota machine was solid in both evening qualifying sessions including earning a bonus point in the final qualifying effort on Saturday. Langdon would be seeded seventh with his 3.722 second pass that was recorded on Friday evening.

In the first round, Langdon faced formidable newcomer Mike Salinas. However, Salinas left before the tree was activated giving the round win to Langdon immediately. Langdon would score low reaction time of the session and run a solid 3.763.

In the quarterfinals, Langdon got the jump on Brittany Force, before Langdon faced tire smoke. Force was also struggling and the drivers pedaled before Langdon shredded a blower belt giving the round win to Force.  

Qualified: No. 7 (3.722 sec., 327.59 mph) 

  • E1: Langdon defeated Salinas – 3.763 sec., 323.66 mph to no time
  • E2: Langdon defeated by B. Force – 4.110 sec., 271.46 mph to 4.071 sec., 264.75 mph

Quotable: “We made up a little ground on the top ten and that is our primary focus right now. I had that race in the second round against Brittany (Force). She made a great run in the first round and that put us in a position where e needed to step our car up a little bit. We did a little too much and we both smoked the tires. I was coming on her strong and it broke the blower belt about 100 feet before the finish line. I am excited to get to Seattle. We are close.”

Point Standings: 11th; trails Troy Coughlin Jr. by 28 points for 10th

Troy Coughlin JR

Coughlin Jr. takes positives from first round loss

Race Recap: Coughlin Jr. continued to gain confidence and the SealMaster team was excited to head to beautiful Sonoma Raceway for the Toyota Sonoma Nationals.

Qualifying did not go as planned, but the SealMaster team got a great hold on it in the final pass to run a 3.824 second pass at only 296mph. That moved Coughlin Jr. solidly into the field in the 11th starting spot.

Coughlin Jr. faced a tough draw in the first round with points leader Steve Torrence in the other lane. Torrence got the early edge, and the SealMaster machine was trying to gain ground when it suffered problems ending Coughlin’s day in round one.

Qualified: No. 11 (3.824 sec., 296.18 mph) 

E1: Coughlin Jr. defeated by Torrence – 4.401 sec., 208.97 mph to 3.750 sec., 327.59 mph

Quotable: “The SealMaster Toyota team is learning a lot and really gaining. Our confidence is up. I need to get off the line a little better and I am looking forward to Seattle.”

Point Standings: 10th; trails Scott Palmer by 47 points for ninth; leads Shawn Langdon by 28 points for 11th

Alexis DeJoria

DeJoria’s falls to teammate in first round

Race Recap: For the fourth time in the past five events, Alexis DeJoria raced her way to a top-half qualifying spot at the Toyota NHRA Sonoma Nationals.
As the No. 7 qualifier, DeJoria was positioned to race her 10th qualified teammate, J.R. Todd, in the first round of eliminations on race day.
In the battle of the Kalitta Motorsports Toyota Camrys, both cars made respectable runs in the three-second zone, but unfortunately, Todd was able to power his Camry across the finish line first, ending DeJoria’s day. 

Qualified: No. 7 (3.926 sec., 331.20 mph)

  • E1: DeJoria defeated by Todd – 3.950 sec., 309.84 mph to 3.953 sec., 326.08 mph

Point Standings: 14th; trails Cruz Pedregon by 73 points for 10th