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POMONA, CA  –Camry driver J.R. Todd defeated Tommy Johnson in the Funny Car final in winning the Auto Club NHRA Finals Sunday to culminate a championship-winning performance at the Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, Sunday. He had clinched his first Funny Car championship in the opening round today.

Todd defeated Jim Campbell and Bob Tasca in the first two rounds before dispatching Ron Capps in the semifinals to set up his final round match-up with Johnson.  In the final, he had a .006 advantage at the tree and never trailed as he registered the quickest time of the day with a 3.872-scond pass with a final margin of victory of .023 seconds or approximately 11 feet.

“The DHL Toyota guys are great at what they do,” said Todd, who became the first African-American driver to win a Funny Car championship and just the second African-American driver ever to win a major U.S. auto racing title. “Todd Smith and Jon Oberhofer really have a handle on the tune-up. They were almost calling their shots today. When we ran the .889 in the semis, they said they were shooting for a .90, so they overachieved a little there. In the finals, I had it way out of the groove, driving like an idiot. I thought for sure I was going to smoke the tires. Then the win light came on and I thought to myself, ‘you’ve got to be kidding me’ and then to see that we ran a .87. That was a big-time run. They just have a really good handle on the car, racing smart. The Yella Fellas just do a great job of preparing our Camry. They definitely stayed focused with a lot of distractions around our pit area.”

The victory was Todd’s third in the Countdown to the Championship playoffs. He advanced to the finals in five of six playoff races. Overall, the second-year Funny Car driver won a series leading six races and posted a 44-18 win-loss record for the season. He became the third Toyota Funny Car driver to win a world championship since 2008.

“Toyota could not be more proud of J.R. Todd and the entire Kalitta Motorsports team,” said Laura Pierce, general manager of motorsports, Toyota Motor North America. “J.R. has been the most dominant driver throughout the playoffs and has truly earned the title of world champion. Thank you to everyone at TRD, who has played an integral role, not only in designing this Camry Funny Car, but also for the engineering support they provide at every race.”

Also in Funny Car, Shawn Langdon advanced to the second round today in defeating Matt Hagan before falling to Capps in round two. Cruz Pedregon lost in the opening round to Tommy Johnson.

Antron Brown led the way in Top Fuel advancing to the second-round after knocking off fellow Toyota driver Doug Kalitta. Richie Crampton rounded out the dragster contingent with a first-round loss to Billy Torrence.

The Mello Yello Drag Racing Series will kick off its 2019 campaign back in Pomona with the Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals, Feb. 8-10.

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