NASCAR & Auto Racing

J.R. Todd becomes first black Funny Car winner in NHRA history with Sonoma victory

J.R. Todd shows off his Funny Car trophy after a victory over Tim Wilkerson in the NHRA Sonoma Nationals on Sunday at Sonoma Raceway.
J.R. Todd shows off his Funny Car trophy after a victory over Tim Wilkerson in the NHRA Sonoma Nationals on Sunday at Sonoma Raceway. NHRA

J.R. Todd has claimed victory in Sonoma before. However, in his latest trip to the raceway, he did more than just win.

Todd became the first black man in NHRA history to claim a Funny Car title when he defeated Tim Wilkerson on Sunday in the Toyota NHRA Sonoma Nationals.

With the win, Todd becomes just the second NHRA driver to win at Sonoma in both Top Fuel and Funny Car, joining Don Prudhomme. Todd, 35, is also the first black racer to win both nitro divisions.

“This is a magical place,” Todd told the San Francisco Chronicle. “I love this track. I can’t afford to live in this area, but I might ask (Sonoma Raceway president and general manager) Steve (Page) if he has an extra room to rent.”

Todd’s 4.049-second pass at 323.27 mph in a Toyota Camry earned him the victory.

“Our car showed us a lot of promise in Denver which gave us hope coming into here,” Todd told The Associated Press. “We’ve been struggling so bad this season. I’m just happy to win a Funny Car. I was able to win here last year in Top Fuel and to be able to come back and do it again in Funny Car is pretty special.”

Other winners Sunday were Steve Torrance (Top Fuel), Tanner Gray (Pro Stock) and LE Tonglet (Pro Stock Motorcycle).

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