STANTON, MI - All J.R. Todd wanted to do was gain his first round victory, but by the end of the event, the 18-year old Top Fuel driver showed his potential as an overachiever by reaching the final round in only his third race. Todd, a recent ...
STANTON, MI - All J.R. Todd wanted to do was gain his first round victory, but by the end of the event, the 18-year old Top Fuel driver showed his potential as an overachiever by reaching the final round in only his third race. Todd, a recent graduate from Lawrenceburg High School in Indiana, became the first African-American Top Fuel driver to ever reach a final round in IHRA competition.
Todd dropped a tough match in the final round of the CARQUEST Northern Nationals against current points leader Paul Romine, one of the two drivers to sign off on his license.
It's a safe bet to say that Todd has taken his goals to the next level with his performance at the Stanton, MI.-based event.
"All I can say is this was a blast," explained Todd, who became the first junior dragster racer to graduate to the Top Fuel ranks. "I was real excited after we won the first, my race could have ended at that point and I would have been pleased with what had transpired. Then when we won the second round, it's like everything went into a blur from that point on. I felt as if I was living in a fantasy land."
He continued, "It's tough enough to win out here, but when you have to race someone like Paul Romine, it causes you to put a lot of pressure on yourself. People will tell you that there's no pressure. Yeah right. I remember watching Paul race before I started running Top Fuel and in my eyes, he's a legend."
Even if he hadn't faced Romine in the finals, his potential other opponent wouldn't have made it any easier for him. Romine had defeated Todd's car owner Bruce Litton in the semis.
Todd was no doubt in a zone as he topped Jim Bailey and Clay Millican to advance his United Expressline, Inc./Bruce Litton Trailer Sales entry into the final round.
In the final round, Romine was quicker off of the line and Todd nailed the tires in a haze of smoke just past the 60-foot mark.
Todd admitted that he had a personal agenda on his mind and wanted to win for one particular reason.
"I fell one round short, but I wanted to win this one for Justin Hawley," explained Todd, speaking about one of his crewmembers that fell ill with appendicitis during the weekend. "We almost lost him and we got him to the hospital just in time. He wanted to be with us so bad. I wish he could have been here. But, hopefully this one won't be our only shot."
Of all the attention, one comment unbeknownst to Todd was made prior to his final round. An African-American race fan watched in awe of the events that had transpired in Todd's favor all day.
The race fan was smiling ear-to-ear and uttered, "I've waited all of my life to see something like this happen."