J.R. Todd captures back-to-back NHRA Funny Car circuit victories …..

Brittany Force (Top Fuel) and Matt Hartford (Pro Stock) were also victorious in their respective categories during the 31st Spring Nationals held at Royal Purple Raceway — event # 5 of 24 events on the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.

Todd powered his DHL Toyota Camry to a pass of 3.955-seconds at 313.29 mph to defeat defending world champion Robert Hight in the final round. He is the third driver in Royal Purple Raceway history to have won in both Top Fuel and Funny Car. This is his second win of the season and 13th of his career.

JR Todd continued his fast season start in NHRA fuel FC — winning for the 2nd time this season in the Kalitta Racing DHL Toyota

“It’s nice to have this much momentum early in the season,” Todd stated. “We struggled really bad last season and didn’t really turn around till probably the Western Swing. It’s nice as Kalitta Motorsports to come out swinging at these races this year.”

Todd defeated Tommy Johnson Jr., Jeff Diehl and Tim Wilkerson before entering the final round. Hight drove pastTodd Simpson, Jonnie Lindberg and Jack Beckman before entering his second final round of the season and 66th career final round.

Force, the defending Top Fuel world champion, piloted her Monster Energy dragster to a pass of 3.762 at 299.46 to defeat Terry McMillen in the final round. She is the seventh different John Force Racing driver to win at RoyalPurple Raceway and she completes the cycle of all Force family members have one at the facility. This is her first victory of the season.

Brittany Force (NHRA’s defending World Top Fuel Champion) got back into victory lane at NHRA Houston

“We kind of struggled a little bit today,” Force said. “The tires were spinning and I’m trying to drive the thing down there and try to get it to the finish line. I didn’t know wherethe guy was next to me, but it was just about getting down there first. Saw our win lights come on in the final round and that was the most important one.”

Force drove past Terry Haddock, Doug Kalitta and Tony Schumacher to reach her first final round of the season 18th of her career. McMillen defeated Antron Brown, Billy Torrence and No. 1 qualifier Leah Pritchett before entering his fourth career final round.

In Pro Stock, Matt Hartford drove to his first career winner’s circle after taking down the hometown hero Erica Enders. His pass of 6.552 at 211.36 in his Total Seal Chevrolet Camaro was enough to make him the 66th different Pro Stock driver to win in NHRA history.

“We started in the back half of the field today and had to work our way through,” Hartford stated. “We earned this. We did a better job with our car today than the other teams. My driving is not why we won today and that is a fact. My crew tuned the car enough for us to be able to drive around her [Enders] at the end.”

Pro Stock racing produced a new first time winner – when Matt Hartford prevailed

Hartford faced Chris McGaha, Tanner Gray and Jeg Coughlin Jr. to enter the first final round of his career. Enders took down Vincent Nobile, Rodger Brogdon and No. 1 qualifier Greg Anderson.

The 5th season race for the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series included supplimental eliminators – Pro Modified (presented by E3 Spark Plugs and Top Fuel Harley (presented by Mickey Thompson Tires).

Colorado’s Jim Whiteley emerged victorious in Pro Mod — racing his Chevy Camaro to a final round time of 5.834, 239.14 to defeat Rick Hord’s turbocharged Corvette which ran a quicker and faster 5.818, 252.43 mph.

Both Jim Whitely (Pro Mod) and Doug Vancil (Top Fuel Harley) earned their 2nd career NHRA circuit wins

Whitely had defeated Mike Castellana, Khalid al Balooshi and Steve Jackson in earlier competition while enroute to his 2nd career NHRA title.

Doug Vancil won his 2nd race of the season in the TFH divison when his 6.300 secs 230.76 mph defeated Randal Andras who trailed with a troubled 12.12 secs 80.94 mph.

The Lucas Oil Lowdown

NHRA’s backbone Lucas Oil Sportsman racing featrues wins by Chevrolet brand racers Brenda Grubbs (Super Stock), Tim Snively (Stock). NHRA Super Index titles went to Lyndon Rutland (Super Comp) and Koy Collier (Super Gas).

Grubbs, Magnolia, Texas, squared off against fellow Texan Craig Gualtiere of Amarillo in the Super Stock final round. Grubbs took the lead from the starting line and never looked back as she earned her second national event Wally trophy with a victory pass of 9.284 seconds, 138.47 mph. Gualtiere recorded a runner up pass of 9.691 seconds, 132.43 mph.

Tim Snively, Fayetteville Ark., and Brandon Bakies, Alexandria, La., came down the wire in Stock. Bakies took a small lead off the starting line, but Snively was able to catch and edge him for the victory peaking at 11.745 seconds, 110.84 mph. Bakies followed up at 11.091 seconds, 114.30 mph.

Lyndon Rutland celebrated his first National event win when he defeaed Super Comp World Champion Austin Williams, Burleson, Texas. Rutland scored a winning8.901 seconds, 180.07 mph, outlasting his foe. Williams runner upped at 8.902 seconds, 156.99 mph.

The Super Gas final round showcased a duel between father and son, as Steve and Koy Collier of Benton, La., took to the starting line. Koy took the starting line advantage and taking the win, running 9.902 seconds, 156.75 mph. His father, Steve, followed up at 9.890 seconds, 163.06 mph.

Posted with files by NHRA Communications and Bruce Biegler

The Mello Yello Drag Racing Series continues April 27-29 at the NGK Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway in Charlotte, N.C.

DragRaceCanada File Photos