NORWALK, OHIO - When J.R. Todd finally gets his Top Fuel report card, he's bound to get a good grade. The 18-year old, African-American Top Fuel driver from Lawrenceburg, IN., has passed every test put before him and looks forward to taking...
NORWALK, OHIO - When J.R. Todd finally gets his Top Fuel report card, he's bound to get a good grade. The 18-year old, African-American Top Fuel driver from Lawrenceburg, IN., has passed every test put before him and looks forward to taking many more. He'll not admit it, but he was pacing the floor plenty of times as to whether he'd pass the last one.
When the grades were tallied up, Todd aced the last test. The exam centered on whether he could handle the pressure of going into the final qualified session for the Mopar Parts World Nationals in Norwalk, Ohio as an unqualified driver. This was uncharted territory for the rookie driver of the United Expressline/Bruce Litton Trailer Sales entry.
Todd not only got a perfect score, but also was correct with the extra credit question and the end result was his first 4.8-second lap, a 4.87/271. He qualified in the fifth position.
"When I got to mid-track and it was still pulling plenty hard, I knew this was going to be a good one," explained Todd, who attained his Top Fuel license just two months earlier at the same Norwalk facility. "I was glad that we were able to make it in. It's always in the back of your mind that this may be your one time failing to qualify and as hard as I tried to block it out, it was still in the back of my thoughts."
So was he worried?
"You'd better believe it," Todd laughed. "It got easier to deal with because I had the confidence in my crew to get me in the show. I was ready to do what I had to do in pedaling if I had to. But, I had enough confidence in my guys that we were going to have plenty."
He faced Jim Bailey in a rematch that transpired at the last event in Stanton, where he reached the final round. The end result wasn't the same as he lost in the opening stanza at Norwalk with smoking tires.
Todd doesn't fret the first round losses, as he puts it "at least I was in the game."
He wasn't alone as car owner Bruce Litton, who drives the Wix Filters Top Fueler, also lost in the first round.
One would think Todd's excitement hadn't yet subsided from Stanton, he laughs when he explained that the novelty of his best ever finish wore off on the Monday following the rescheduled CARQUEST Northern Nationals.
Todd, who also works at Litton's shop, had to go back to work on Monday. He found himself elbow to elbow with Litton scrubbing floors of the soon-to-be opening shop.
Todd laughs, "I guess its Bruce's version of wax-on, wax-off like in the movie Karate Kid." k