As the NHRA world heads into the Thanksgiving holiday Kalitta Motorsports would like to thank all our media members for their support. We will continue to engage with you and be available throughout the off-season. To that point J.R. Todd, driver of the DHL Toyota Camry Funny Car, took a look back at a trying 2020 NHRA season but one the 2018 Funny Car champion is happy was completed. He also looks ahead to the 2021 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season and a promising chase for another Funny Car championship.
Can you talk about the highlights of 2020 season?
J.R. Todd - “It is hard to be that upset with the way our season went when in March we weren’t even sure if we were going to get to race any more this year. Overall I was glad we were able to get on track this year and get in the amount of races that we did. We were able to race in front of a select group of fans at some events. At the same time you want to go out there and perform at a high level and be in contention to win a championship. We started off in a hole after those first two races before the pandemic. We made up some ground during the four races in Indy and then we just fell off again. We didn’t live up to our own expectations. At the end of the day I am just glad (team owner) Connie (Kalitta) was able to keep our team going and let us go race.”
Can you take anything from the 2020 season that made you a better driver?
JRT - “I wouldn’t say I did anything different this year but the downside of not racing definitely tested everybody. You had to be patient and mentally strong during the down time. Once we got going it was more about knocking the rust off and getting back in the groove of things. I am hoping that once 2021 gets started we can go test once or twice before the first race in March. Then we can be even more prepared as a driver and team to get into a rhythm. This season definitely made me appreciate running more races and not complain about certain things.”
What will be your 2-3 main areas of focus in this longer than usual off-season?
JRT - “That is something I have already talked about with my trainers at PitFit. With this much time off there is really no excuse for me to not be in better shape when you go to that first event. My goal is to go to the gym as much as possible to work on getting better physically and mentally.”
Can you talk about the team camaraderie this season?
JRT - “The team is like your family out there. You see those guys more than a lot of people most of the season. We are together most of the time. With the off time in the middle of the season is was definitely weird not seeing those guys. I enjoy spending time with the Yella Fellas and they all get along with each other. They play hard but they work hard so it is a fun group to be around. They have my back at the end of the day and that is all I can ask for.”
What are your holiday or off-season travel plans?
JRT - “With this much time off of course I am going to try and go home for the holidays. Usually these past couple of years I have tried to go somewhere on vacation whether it is spending New Years in Florida or somewhere else fun. Hopefully I will get a couple quick trips during this off time but that also cuts into the work time at the gym so I will try and balance that out. I don’t think I could handle sitting in my house for four months straight again.”
What are 2-3 goals you have set for yourself for 2021 season?
JRT - “As a driver I want to be the best in the class so that means I want to work on my reaction times and getting more comfortable in the car. We are going to make some changes over the off-season to help get me more comfortable. Our overall goal is to contend for that Camping World Funny Car championship. The Schumacher cars have won every race going back to 2019 so we need to step up. They have set the bar high and I think we know what we need to do to chase them down. We want to work hard in testing and be a contender from the get go. Since I made the switch to Funny Car it seems like we have been slow starters early in the year and we just need to work on that. We want to get back in the winner’s circle sooner rather than later.” About Kalitta Motorsports:
Based in Ypsilanti, Mich., Kalitta Motorsports is a Top Fuel and Funny Car drag racing team in the NHRA (National Hot Rod Association) Camping World Drag Racing Series. The team was founded and is owned by drag racing icon Connie “the Bounty Hunter” Kalitta. For more than 60 years, Connie has been involved in the sport as a driver, tuner, and team owner. Kalitta Motorsports is one of the most successful teams in the history of auto racing with seven world championships and over 100 national event titles in five different professional drag racing sanctioning bodies since it was established by Connie in 1959.