Todd extended his championship lead back to 74 points heading into tomorrow’s eliminations, the equivalent of over two rounds. He can clinch the 2018 Funny Car championship by advancing to the semi-finals or beyond on Sunday.
“Nothing’s changed for our DHL Toyota,” said Todd, who registered a 3.897-second pass in his final qualifying run on Saturday. “We’re going to go out there and run hard. We’re not going to let up. Our goal for tomorrow is to win the race.”
Todd will open eliminations against Jim Campbell on Sunday.
Shawn Langdon qualified ninth and will open up Sunday’s action with Matt Hagan, while Cruz Pedregon placed 14th and will square off against Tommy Johnson in the opening round.
POMONA, CA – With six world championships and 80 career wins, Jeg Coughlin Jr. is known far more for his winning ways on race day than his prowess during qualifying sessions. But he has added mightily to that second category this season, which he capped Saturday with a personal-best sixth low qualifier award of the year.
Just as he has throughout his career, Coughlin set his new mark in style, running his best pass of the 54th annual Auto Club NHRA Finals in the final qualifying session with a rocket-ship run of 6.510 at 211.49 mph. The pass showed a remarkable 60-foot time of .958 seconds.
“Rickie (Jones, crew chief) had the car set on kill,” Coughlin said. “We knew we wanted to stay up front and felt like we could get after it as much as possible and not jeopardize, completely, making an otherwise solid run and we made quite a lap there.
Pomona, CA – The U.S. Army driver trio of Leah Pritchett, Antron Brown and Tony “The Sarge” Schumacher locked down the first, sixth and eighth positions on the elimination ladder, respectively, after the final two rounds of qualifying Saturday for this weekend’s season-ending Auto Club NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, California.
Schumacher and his U.S. Army Dragster for Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) opened the day with a strong run in the heat of the day of 3.762 seconds at 329.02 mph that improved upon his best Friday effort and moved him up to 10th in the provisional order. He finished strong, however, with his best run of the weekend of 3.722 seconds at 329.75 mph. He’ll meet No. 9 qualifier Scott Palmer in Sunday’s opening round of eliminations.
“We’ll go fast tomorrow, but the bottom line as it is every weekend is that we’ll need to go rounds on Sunday,” said Schumacher, who’s won a record-tying six Pomona event titles and owns a record 10 No. 1 qualifying efforts. “We need to win more rounds than anybody else. We’re chasing second place and we just need to go out and be fastest in the qualifying sessions tomorrow and then win rounds on Sunday. This track generally gets better as we go through the weekend, so we’ll be good tomorrow.”
POMONA, CA – Leah Pritchett (Top Fuel) and Tommy Johnson Jr. (Funny Car) lead the nitro classes after day one of the 54th annual Auto Club NHRA Finals. The Mopar-powered teammates swept Friday qualifying, launching to session-best passes during both sessions.
Pritchett navigated the Mopar Dodge Top Fuel dragster to a Q2 run of 3.649-seconds at 329.34-mph to secure the provisional No. 1 position. The Todd Okuhara/Joe Barlam-led team held the top spot going into the second session after laying down a session-best 3.774 at 312.64 in the first round of qualifying.
“The biggest thing is win lights, of course, but when you have this kind of weather, you can just feel the energy; you get to execute what you set out to do,” said Pritchett of racing to the provisional No. 1 spot at her hometown track.
“We knew it was out there. When we ran that 77 in Q1, we knew that there was so much more in it, so we built off of that. That 3.64 is a testament to some new chassis work we were able to do back at the DSR shop. We were able to put that power to the ground, and we did it in leaps and bounds. These are the moments, besides eliminations, that you can’t wait for because that’s the epitome of all of the power and all of the work coming down to that ‘Olympic moment.’
POMONA, CA — In the chase for his third world championship, reigning Funny Car champion Robert Hight lined up with J.R. Todd, whom he sat just 74-points behind in second place going into the weekend, for the first qualifying session at the Auto Club Finals in Pomona. Neither Funny Cars made it down the track and Hight coasted to a 6.130-second pass but wasn’t disheartened by the initially sluggish qualifying performance given the overall position he and his Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro are in.
“This is what you dream about. At the beginning of the year you want to be in this position at the end of the season with a chance to win the championship,” Hight explained. “This Auto Club Chevy and this team, we are in the hunt. We just have to make it happen. This is a really tricky race track. We will get ‘er tonight I promise.”
That they did. In the second qualifying session, Hight had a stout 3.936 second pass that earned him two bonus points for being third quickest in the session. The little points are important for the two-time world champion as he keeps his hopes alive of defending his title.
Pomona, CA – The U.S. Army driver trio of Leah Pritchett, Antron Brown and Tony “The Sarge” Schumacher are first, third and 11th on the provisional ladder, respectively, after the opening two rounds of qualifying Friday for this weekend’s season-ending Auto Club NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, California.
Schumacher and his U.S. Army Dragster for Don Schumacher Racing (DSR) had a promising open to his day with the third-best qualifying run of the opening session. It weighed in at 3.792 seconds at 326.24 mph that was outdone only by his U.S. Army and DSR teammates. His second run in prime, nighttime conditions went up in smoke shortly after his launch from the starting line, leaving him to coast across the finish line in 6.748 seconds at 98.23 mph.
“We were definitely going for something in the 60s (3.60 seconds) and it was clearly out there, but that doesn’t mean it was out there in our lane that run,” said Schumacher, who’s won a record-tying six Pomona event titles and owns a record 10 No. 1 qualifying efforts. “It got pretty fast before 60-foot and then it went south. We’ll go fast tomorrow, but the bottom line as it is every weekend is that we’ll need to go rounds on Sunday. We need to win more rounds than anybody else. We’re chasing second place and we just need to go out and be fastest in the qualifying sessions tomorrow and then win rounds on Sunday. This track generally gets better as we go through the weekend, so we’ll be good tomorrow.”
Pomona, CA – Todd Looks For First Title…J.R. Toddwill be looking to secure his first NHRA Funny Car World Championship this weekend in Pomona. After winning the most recent event at the Toyota Nationals, he enters the weekend with a 74-point lead, the equivalent of just over two rounds. If Todd captures the title, he would become the first African-American driver to win a Funny Car title and just the second to win a major U.S. auto racing championship, joining fellow Toyota driver Antron Brown. He also would be the second DHL Camry driver to win a Funny Car title in the last four years, joining Del Worsham who won the title for Kalitta Motorsports in 2015.
Todd By The Numbers…Todd has earned two victories and advanced to four final rounds in the first five Countdown to the Championship events. He also has compiled a 16-3 round win-loss record during the playoffs. For the season, Todd leads all Funny Car drivers in wins (five) and round wins (40) and has advanced to the semi-finals or beyond 12 times – also a series high.