DOHA, QATAR – A day after his teammate had a record day, J.R. Todd continued his remarkable start to a promising Pro Extreme career.
The former Top Fuel standout has caught on quickly in the doorslammer ranks as well, posting another remarkable performance in the Arabian Drag Racing League on Friday at Qatar Racing Club (QRC).
His sparkling ’57 Chevy displayed bracket car-like efficiency during Round Four of the eight-race series, capping off a consistent day with a 3.67 in the finals against Von Smith, giving him two wins and the points lead after four races.
“I didn’t know what to expect when I got here and this has definitely exceeded my expectations,” the PX newcomer said. “It’s tough to win over here. There’s eight of the best cars in the world and it’s tough from top to bottom.
“So far it’s gone well and we did what we had to do today.”
Todd wasn’t the only standout driver who picked up his second win in the 2010-11 season.
In Pro Nitrous, Khalid Al-Balooshi overcame a fire to his car during testing on Wednesday to pick up his second win of the season.
Al-Balooshi went 3.86 in the finals on Friday, knocking off Khaled Mohamed.
Meshal Al-Saber knocked off the ever-improving Matt Smith in Pro Extreme Motorcycle, going 4.27 in a holeshot win in the finals, while Ruben Arrieta went 4.33 to win in Outlaw 10.5.
“I’m on cloud nine right now,” Arrieta said. “This is something I’ve dreamed about.”
Todd’s Pro Extreme career has been so short he likely hasn’t had time to dream, but it would probably go something like this.
Teaming with Alex Hossler, who recorded a career-best 3.64 at 209 miles per hour in qualifying on Thursday, Todd has proven to be a quick learner in PX.
He won Round Two in December and posted a solid Friday against an incredible field.
Todd went 3.66 at 207 mph to beat Todd Tutterow in the first round, following it up with a 3.67 at another 207 mph.
Von Smith knocked off Frankie Taylor and Hossler to reach the finals, but Todd posted his second 3.67 at 208 mph to beat the red-lighting Smith.
“In the semifinals, we hurt the piston, so it was a mad thrash to get it ready for the finals,” Todd said. “This thing has been like a Cadillac. It hasn’t done anything wrong yet.”
What has helped has been teaming with Hossler and crew chief Rob Flynn.
Todd’s natural talent has been evident, but a good support staff has also paid dividends thus far.
“With Rob calling the shots and (KH Al-Thani) putting together a great team, it’s been great,” Todd said. “We’ve worked together well and that’s what it takes.”
Al-Balooshi deflected nearly all the credit for his second win and the PN points leader at the halfway mark also knew immediately what he was doing with the trophy.
“This second trophy is going back to Speedtech,” Al-Balooshi said. “Hopefully I can ship them the belt, too.”
At this rate, it certainly looks possible.
The fire posed some problems early in the week, as did swapping out the motor, but Al-Balooshi was the dominant driver on Friday.
His 3.84 in the first round was the best run of the day, and he followed that with a 3.86 in a red-light win against Shannon Jenkins before going 194 mph in the finals.
“Everybody has worked hard to get this done and I’m very happy with my team. They’re doing an awesome job,” Al-Balooshi said. “Everybody in this class is running fast, just like it is in the American Drag Racing League (ADRL).
“But everybody who works on this team has put me in a beautiful car. This race we weren’t looking at running fast, but hopefully we will be perfect before the season ends.”
It was an upset-filled day in PXM, which started with Matt Smith setting a new track record with a 4.12.
Previous event winners Rob Hunnicutt, who lost to Smith, and Terry Schweigert, both fell in the semifinals, as Smith went 4.18 in his win against the PXM points leader.
But Al-Saber was quicker off the line to earn his first victory of the season.
“Meshal performed really well,” crew chief Sadiq Taqi said. “To win among all these champions feels great. There’s some big names in this field and to win makes me feel really proud.”
Smith, who is also driving Al-Thani’s PX car, has made tremendous strides on his 2010 Harley, but he couldn’t complete his day with a win.
“We’re trying to get it right and it’s going to take some time, but we’ve come a long ways pretty quick,” Smith said.
Round Five takes place Jan. 13-14 at QRC.