J.R. Todd earned his first Funny Car championship at the Auto Club NHRA Finals when Bob Tasca III eliminated defending champ Robert Hight in the first round Sunday. Todd becomes the 21st racer to win a Funny Car title and he does so in just his second year after transitioning from Top Fuel.
It’s the second Funny Car title for the DHL Toyota Camry team and fourth championship for Kalitta Motorsports. The first Funny Car title came with Del Worsham behind the wheel of the car that still bears Scott Kalitta’s name. Worsham was on the starting line, behind the wheel of his Camry, when Hight lost in the first round and joined in on the celebration.
“This is what you live your whole life for when you start racing Junior Dragster,” said Todd. “You hope you’ll get to this point, but you go your whole career not knowing if you will. I have so many people to thank but the Kalitta group as a whole has been so supportive. I have my hero, the champ Del Worsham back there and it’s so good to have him in my corner. Man, what a stressful weekend but I’m glad that I can just go out and try to win two trophies now.”
Todd entered Pomona with five wins in 2018 and eight in his Funny Car career. His win in the first round over Jim Campbell kept his hopes alive for a sixth win this season and a third win during the Countdown to the Championship. He already captured wins at the Dodge NHRA Nationals in Reading and most recently at the NHRA Toyota Nationals in Las Vegas.
The Auto Club NHRA Finals marked the 200th start of Todd’s career. He boasts 16 wins in 28 final round appearances and a 208-179 round record, including the first-round victory over Campbell. This is the second title for tuners Todd Smith (Jack Beckman, 2012) and Jon Oberhofer (Worsham, 2015).