J.R. Todd wins first Gatornationals

By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher

DHL Funny Car pilot J.R. Todd was able to check an event off of his bucket list. Todd won the 52nd annual Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway in Gainesville, Florida on Sunday afternoon.

He defeated a returning Robert Hight in the final round. Todd — who now resides in the Indianapolis area — went 5.184 at 286.38 mph to get the win.

DHL-sponsored Funny Car pilot J.R. Todd celebrates his win at the 52nd annual Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals
DHL-sponsored Funny Car pilot J.R. Todd celebrates his win at the 52nd annual Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals (Photo by the NHRA/Twitter)

Hight — who resides in California — went 6.591 at 144.41 mph in the losing effort.

“It’s amazing to be among the legends who have won this race,” Todd said. “This is Don Garlits country down here in Gainesville. First off, I have to thank the legend Connie Kalitta for the opportunity to earn one of these trophies. Today was tough. No offense to all the other drivers out there, but in my opinion, Robert Hight is the best driver out here. That team sets the benchmark for the rest of us.

“Our DHL Toyota Camry went out there and blew the tires off and I thought, ‘Oh man, here we go.’ I just kind of rolled into the throttle, he never came by us and here we are holding another (Wally).”

Before Sunday, Hight held a 7-6 advantage over Todd. Both men had a win over each other in the two previous final rounds.

Todd has a small starting line advantage. However, both drivers smoked the tires shortly after the Christmas tree.

The Kalitta Motorsports driver was successful in getting back on the gas and getting the win. Hight tried to get back on the gas but was not as successful.

This is Todd’s 19th career win. He now has 10 Funny Car wins, but this is his first Gatornationals wins.

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