J.R. Todd, driver of the Optima Batteries/Advance Auto Parts Top Fuel dragster, won his first event of the 2014 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Sunday in Denver at Bandimere Speedway during eliminations of the 35th annual Mile-High Nationals.
The win for Todd is the seventh of his career and his first since joining Kalitta Motorsports as the full-time driver of the 10,000-horsepower, Red Line-equipped Optima Batteries/Advance Auto Parts Top Fueler in March. It is also his first NHRA event win since 2008 (Dallas). He garnered his first NHRA Top Fuel event win in Denver in 2006, becoming the first African-American to accomplish the feat in the world’s quickest and fastest class of auto racing.
Todd defeated Brittany Force, 3.878 seconds, 317.87 mph to 3.968 seconds, 297.35 mph, in the final round of eliminations to end his nearly six-year drought of visiting the winner’s circle.
“What an amazing day for me, my Optima Batteries/Advance Auto Parts team, and everyone at Kalitta Motorsports,” Todd, a 31-year old native of Lawrenceburg, Ind., said. “I just can’t thank Connie (Kalitta, team owner and crew chief) enough for giving this opportunity to drive such an awesome hot rod.
“Our dragster got better every round today, and I knew we had a good chance to win, but you never know until you see that win light come on in your lane.”
Todd, with his win, moved up from 10th place to eighth in Mello Yello Top Fuel championship points.
Team Kalitta nitro race cars have now appeared in 15 championship rounds through the first 14 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series events this year.
Doug Kalitta and the Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster team clinched a position in the 2014 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series “Playoffs”, the Countdown to the Championship in Denver. Kalitta now leads the Mello Yello Top Fuel championship points by 25 points over second place with four events remaining in the “regular season”.