Photo: Kalitta Motorsports

NHRA: J.R. Todd breaks through in Funny Car in Sonoma

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SONOMA, Calif. (AP) J.R. Todd became the first black winner in NHRA Funny Car history Sunday, beating Tim Wilkerson in the Sonoma Nationals.

The 35-year-old Todd, from Lawrenceburg, Indiana also joined Don Prudhomme as the only NHRA drivers to win at Sonoma Raceway in both nitro categories. Todd won nine times in Top Fuel.

Todd beat Wilkerson with a 4.049-second pass at 323.27 mph in a Toyota Camry.

“Our car showed us a lot of promise in Denver which gave us hope coming into here,” Todd said. “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.”

Wilkerson’s Ford Shelby Mustang went up in smoke in a 6.823 at 100.26.

Steve Torrence raced to his sixth Top Fuel victory of the season, Tanner Gray topped the Pro Stock field for his third win in his rookie season, and LE Tonglet took his fifth Pro Stock Motorcycle victory of the year.

Torrence beat Antron Brown in the final with a 3.784 at 329.42. Gray had a 6.572 at 210.05 in a Chevrolet Camaro to edge points leader Bo Butner. Tonglet beat Matt Smith with a 6.783 at 197.02 on a Suzuki. Tonglet won the Mickey Thompson Tires Pro Bike Battle on Saturday.

F1’s Valtteri Bottas to compete in first-ever rally race in his native Finland

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Formula One’s “Flying Finn” is going back home for the first time.

More precisely, Valtteri Bottas is returning to his Finland homeland to compete in his first career rally race in the Finnish Rally Championship season opener.

Bottas, teammates on the F1 Mercedes team with five-time champ Lewis Hamilton, will compete in the World Rally Championships’ Arctic Lapland Rally from January 24-26.

He’ll team with two-time World Rally champion Timo Rautiainen in a M-Sport Ford Fiesta RS WRC on rally roads of the Finnish Arctic Circle.

“This is a unique opportunity to take a peek into the world of rallying,” Bottas told Finnish rallying website Rallism.f1. “I would like to thank everyone who has made it possible.

“It’s totally new territory for me too, as I have no prior experience of a World Rally Car. Still, being the race car driver that I am, you always go flat out whatever the vehicle you’re driving in.”

Added Rautiainen, “In my life, I’ve sat in a rally car with only three drivers, but this is such an interesting mission that I just had to accept the challenge. I believe that for a talented wheelman like Valtteri, we’ll be able to establish a good basic driving routine in testing.”

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