NorCal Racing

J.R. Todd hopes for upset repeat at NHRA Sonoma Nationals

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The hills of Sonoma Valley will rumble as the 10,000 horsepower machines of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series return for the Toyota NHRA Sonoma Nationals this weekend, July 27-29.

As 300-mph runs hit the track, there will also be plenty for fans to enjoy off the drag strip. For the fourth year in a row, a collection of nostalgia dragsters will light up the night, as they fire up their engines for a can’t-miss Cacklefest on Friday night in front of the Main Grandstand. These dragsters and many more will also be on display in the 9th annual Nostalgia Get-Together throughout race weekend.

As always, fans are encouraged to enjoy the open pits, get autographs from their favorite drivers and enjoy all the activities in store.

One of those favorite drivers is probably J.R. Todd, looking for success for the third straight year at Sonoma Raceway. Todd, driver of the 10,000-horsepower DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car, won the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event two years ago in Top Fuel, followed by his first career Funny Car win in 2017 on a weekend that featured one of the most thrilling runs of the season.

Looking ahead to this weekend, Todd hopes to keep up his impressive pace at the scenic facility in the heart of Northern California’s wine country. “Last year was a special day and one I won’t forget,” said Todd, currently sixth in Funny Car points.

“There were so many things tied into that weekend, getting my first Funny Car win at a Toyota-sponsored event and that kind of kick-started our performance the rest of the year. It’s another unique track we go to, and the facility is always top-shelf. It’s a place where I won early in my career (Top Fuel in 2006), and it would be great to do it again.”

Though Todd currently sits in sixth, everyone is chasing points leader Courtney Force, who has four wins this season, and Matt Hagan, who has posted three. But Todd has enjoyed good fortune in Sonoma, including a memorable semifinal race last year against Jack Beckman. After early tire shake, Todd recovered and went roaring past Beckman at the finish line, providing one of the ultimate highlights of the 2017 season. It’s a run that still has people talking, and Todd expects to hear plenty about it from fans when he returns to Sonoma.

“There’s still people talking about it like it happened last week,” Todd said. “It’s one of those runs that stick out in people’s mind. Things just lined up and it was one of those things that made for great TV. Sonoma is one of those tracks when conditions are right, you can have some great runs.”

In Top Fuel, points leader Steve Torrence will also look for a repeat performance in Sonoma after claiming his first wine-country victory last year. Torrence has posted five wins so far this season and leads the point standings by 173 over Clay Millican, while Denver winner Leah Pritchett sits in third.

Five-time Sonoma Pro Stock winner Greg Anderson rolls into Sonoma fresh off his victory in Denver, which helped him reclaim the class points lead over 2017 Sonoma winner Tanner Gray by just 68 points. In Pro Stock Motorcycle, popular Screamin’ Eagle Harley-Davidson teammates Andrew Hines and Eddie Krawiec lead the points standings in first and second place, respectively.

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