J.R. Todd Adds His Name to the NHRA Record Book at Sonoma
When the DHL Toyota Camry of J.R. Todd crossed the finish line at the 30th Annual Toyota NHRA Sonoma Nationals, new entries were posted in the NHRA Record Book. Todd's last Wally came at Sonoma Raceway one year ago in Top Fuel but the annotations for this year's victory in Funny Car include:
* 1st Win in NHRA Funny Car Division
* 1st Graduate of NHRA Jr. Drag Racing League to Win in Funny Car
* 1st African American to Win in Funny Car
* 1st Win of the 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series
J.R. Todd also become the 16th driver of all time to win in both NHRA Nitro Categories (Top Fuel & Funny Car). The popular victory also earned Todd the final transfer spot into the NHRA Traxxas Nitro Shootout this Labor Day Weekend.
With a 4.049 ET at 323.27 mph pass, Todd defeated Tim Wilkerson after his Levi, Ray & Shoup Ford Shelby Mustang went up in smoke during the final round. He had eliminated sixteen-time world champion John Force and "Fast Jack" Beckman in earlier rounds. Wilkerson had taken down Cruz Pedregon, Robert Hight (top qualifier) and Courtney Force before entering the finals.
In Top Fuel, Steve Torrence picked up his sixth victory of the season and the 14th Wally of his career with a win over Antron Brown's Matco Tools dragster. Torrence left the start first in his Capco Contractor dragster and pulled away from Brown who dropped a cylinder early in the run. It was the fourth time this season that the two met in the final round and Torrence has now topped Brown in three of those runs. Torrence eliminated Troy Coughlin Jr., Doug Kalitta and Brittany Force on his way to podium.
Pro Stock rookie Tanner Gray continued to impress NHRA race fans defeating points leader Bo Butner in the closest final round of the event. Butner left the tree with a .016 RT to the kid's .017 light but Gray managed a 6.572 ET to Butner's 6.577. The victory was the third of the 2017 NHRA season behind the wheel of the Gray Motorsports Valvoline Chevrolet Camaro. The rookie driver seems to have a firm grasp on the NHRA Rookie of the Year honors. This was the 15th of 24 events for the 2017 Mello Yello series. Drivers and teams now head north for the August 4-6 NHRA Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceways in Kent, WA.