YPSILANTI, Mich. (June 25, 2024) – J.R. Todd is having a great season with a win and reaching at least the semifinals at most of the races, but the 2018 NHRA Funny Car champion and his DHL GR Supra team want more. The 2024 NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Season resumes June 28-30, 2024 at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals in Norwalk, Ohio.

Todd reached at least the semifinals at seven of the nine races so far this season, but the two races at which he failed to make the semifinals were first-round losses at Chicago and Virginia last weekend. That lack of consistency is not conducive to championship seasons. With the first-round loss last weekend, Todd dropped one spot to fourth place in the NHRA Funny Car point standings. That’s still pretty solid, but it’s not what Todd and team expect of themselves.

“Like I keep saying, we have to qualify better and be more consistent,” Todd said. “The cars above us go to the later rounds every race so if we’re going to keep pace or beat them with the performance they have, we have to step up our performance. When we get to the hotter tracks like the last few races, lane choice is important as we get into the summer weather. But also, I want to make the All-Star Callout at Indy and be in the top half of that field. That all stems back to qualifying and qualifying consistently well. That’s something we haven’t done this year so we are definitely working on that going forward.”

Now the series heads to Norwalk, Ohio where Todd has never won but has a runner-up showing. At just 120 miles from the Team Kalitta shop, it’s considered the “home race” for Kalitta Motorsports. Todd would love to win at a place where he gained valuable experience early in his career, but he’d also like to make a good showing for the Kalitta employees who will be on site.

“I raced junior dragsters there and got my Top Fuel license there in 2000,” Todd said. “It would be cool to win there for sure, and it would be pretty neat to win with a lot of Kalitta employees there. They don’t get to go to a lot of races, and a lot of the guys have family and friends there. It’s definitely Kalitta’s home race, and it would definitely be a good one to win. The fans always pack the grandstands there, and at the end of the day, we’re here to put on a good show for them.”

Late last week, Todd visited the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. where his 2006 fire suit is on display. It is there because Todd wore it when he became the first African American driver to win a Top Fuel race in 2006. The display is located in the “Nation of Speed” area of the museum, and it placed the 2018 Funny Car champion in some impressive company.

“It was definitely a good experience,” Todd said. “I’m honored to have my fire suit in the Smithsonian – especially with some of the racing legends that have exhibits there. It was definitely cool to take in, and with all the people there wanting to take pictures with me – it was a pretty cool feeling. It’s pretty humbling and kind of surreal when you’re in a museum display with people like Don Garlits, Mario Andretti and Richard Petty.”

NHRA on FOX shot an extended interview with Todd at the Museum last week; that interview will air during this weekend’s broadcast on FOX.

Race Information:

Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park; Norwalk, Ohio

TV Schedule (All times eastern):   

  • Qualifying Show 2-4 p.m. Sunday, June 30 on FS1
  • Finals Round 1: 4-5 p.m. Sunday, June 30 on FS1
  • Finals: 5-7 p.m. Sunday, June 30 on FOX

2023 Summit NHRA Nationals Recap: Qualified No. 7; defeated John Force and Ron Capps before losing to Matt Hagan.  

Funny Car Career Stats: 307 events, 21 wins, 26 runner-up, 341 round wins, 14 No. 1 qualifiers.

2024 NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series Results To Date (wins in italics):

  • Gainesville: Qualified No. 6; defeated Blake Alexander, Ron Capps, Bob Tasca and Austin Prock.
  • Pomona: Qualified No. 11; defeated Cruz Pedregon and Paul Lee; lost to Matt Hagan.
  • Phoenix: Qualified No. 5; defeated Cruz Pedregon and John Force before losing to Austin Prock.
  • Las Vegas 4W: Qualified No. 3; defeated D. Wilkerson, D. Richards before losing to M. Hagan and R. Capps
  • Charlotte 4W: Qualified No. 12; defeated Ron Capps and Buddy Hull in the first round, Cruz Pedregon and John Force in the semifinals before beating John Force but losing to Matt Hagan and Daniel Wilkerson in the final round.
  • Chicago: Qualified No. 12; lost to Alexis DeJoria.
  • Epping: Qualified No. 3; defeated Dave Richards and Bob Tasca before losing to John Force.
  • Bristol: Qualified No. 11; defeated Terry Haddock, Ron Capps, John Force; lost to Austin Prock.
  • Richmond: Qualified No. 7; lost to Matt Hagan.

Todd Image Courtesy: NHRA