TODD’S DOMINATING RUN GIVES TOYOTA NINTH NHRA WORLD CHAMPION; TOYOTA NHRA DRIVERS COMBINE FOR 10 WINS IN ‘18
Todd dominated throughout the six-race Countdown to the Championship playoffs, earning three victories in five final round appearances, culminating with his sixth victory of the season at the Auto Club NHRA Finals in Pomona to capture the title. The playoff wins were just part of a brilliant campaign that saw the DHL Toyota Camry driver lead the series in victories, as well as win-loss record in elimination rounds (44-18, 71%) in just his second season in Funny Car. The championship was the second in four years for a Toyota Camry Funny Car driver and the third since 2008. Overall, Toyota-supported drivers have now won nine NHRA world championships.
“I never imagined a run like this, but the DHL Toyota guys are great at what they do,” said Todd. “I saw these guys do this with Del Worsham in 2015, so I knew that the opportunity was there. I just didn’t want to be the reason for it not to happen. It’s pretty special. It was really a complete team effort. I feel like we have a huge advantage from the input we get from having TRD involved. Those guys working with the track conditions takes weight off the crew chiefs shoulders, so they don’t have to worry about it. TRD relays the information back to them and it’s a huge asset. I feel like it’s only going to get better.”
Todd also was victorious in some of the biggest events on the schedule, including the U.S. Nationals and the Toyota Nationals in Las Vegas. Overall, his six victories were the highest ever for a Toyota Funny Car driver. In addition, Cruz Pedregonalso found his way to the Funny Car Winner’s Circle, taking top honors at the Charlotte Four-Wide Nationals to give Camry Funny Cars a single-season best seven victories in 2018.
A year after Todd made the transition from Top Fuel to Funny Car, 2013 Top Fuel champion Shawn Langdonfollowed suit. Langdon qualified for the Countdown in his inaugural Funny Car season, advancing to five semifinals on the way to a tenth-place finish.
In Top Fuel, all three Toyota-supported drivers found their way to Victory Lane in 2018 with victories at two of the most prestigious races on the circuit. Doug Kalitta won at the season-opening Winternationals in Pomona, while Kalitta Motorsports teammate Richie Cramptonwas triumphant at the 49thrunning of the Gatornationals in Gainesville.
In addition, Antron Brownbecame just the fourth driver in NHRA history to win 50 Top Fuel events with his victory at Seattle, marking the 11thstraight season that he’s won since making the move into Top Fuel in 2008. Brown would finish the season sixth in the Top Fuel standings, one spot ahead of Kalitta.
The 2019 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series kicks off with the Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals at the Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, Feb. 8-10.
TOYOTA NHRA Champions
2018 J.R. Todd, Funny Car
2016 Antron Brown, Top Fuel
2015 Antron Brown, Top Fuel
2015 Del Worsham, Funny Car
2013 Shawn Langdon, Top Fuel
2012 Antron Brown, Top Fuel
2011 Del Worsham, Top Fuel
2010 Larry Dixon, Top Fuel
2008 Cruz Pedregon, Funny Car
2018 Toyota Wins (10)
Top Fuel (3) – Doug Kalitta, Pomona; Richie Crampton,Gainesville; Antron Brown,Seattle
Funny Car (7) – J.R. Todd,Las Vegas-4, Houston, Indianapolis, Reading; Las Vegas-2, Pomona Finals; Cruz Pedregon,Charlotte-4