All month long, our racing guru David Scoggan is blogging LIVE from Lucas Oil Raceway! Check back here regularly for a dose of Dave’s wit and whimsy.
Only one driver entered for this year’s NHRA Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals has a shot at a three-peat and that’s the reigning Mello Yello Funny Car World Champion J.R. Todd.
He has taken Indy titles the previous two years, defeating Ron Capps in a 3.92/325 MPH to 3.94/325 MPH 2017 thriller, then eliminated Capps’ DSR teammate Matt Hagan in last year’s final round. Todd and his DHL-sponsored Toyota Camry from the legendary Connie Kalitta’s stable have produced one win this season, April’s DENSO Four-Wide Nationals at Las Vegas, his 18th career victory (split equally between Top Fuel and Funny Car).
Todd made a visit to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May, visiting the Dryer & Reinbold Racing garage through shared sponsor WIX Filters and sampled the cockpit of Sage Karam’s Indycar. The high point of his morning was a quick ride around the IMS oval in a two-seat Indycar driven by motorsports icon Mario Andretti. Coincidentally, J.R.’s given name is also Mario, as in Mario Todd, Junior.
Growing up watching his father race motorcycles, young J.R. also cultivated a passion for Lawrenceburg Speedway, a high-banked 3/8-mile dirt track located in his southeastern Indiana hometown that features a regular diet of sprint car races. Though he loves dirt racing and his close friends with the likes of Rico Abreu, Todd has no desire to turn left, stating flatly, “I’ll leave that to those guys!” There is clearly no trace of the “Danny Ongais gene” in J.R. Todd, because he only wants to go straight — to the winner’s circle.