This week I’m starting a new series where I’m doing to be talking about/ recapping the races of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. I’ve been a fan of drag racing since I was a young kid, so I’m excited to write about it. Getting right into it, the season started this last week at the Circle K NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, California. As it was the first race of the season, everyone brought their best. That led to blistering runs and incredibly close races.
Starting off with Top Fuel, the number 1 qualifier was Steve Torrence with a 3.70. I can’t say I’m surprised. Torrence Racing brought over Alan Johnson last season after Alan Johnson Racing was disbanded due to lack of sponsorship. After that happened you could definitely see improvement. This season Alan Johnson is also overseeing the Monster Energy dragster of Brittany Force and I think it will be a positive experience for everyone involved. The ladder for race day looked like this; #1 Steve Torrence (3.70) v #16 Steve Faria (5.13), #8 Dave Connolly (3.75) v #9 Morgan Lucas(3.75), #4 Richie Crampton (3.72) v #13 Troy Buff (3.84), #5 Clay Millican (3.72) v #12 Leah Prichett (3.80), #2 Doug Kalitta (3.71) v #15 Scott Palmer (4.08), #7 Antron Brown (3.75) v #10 Shawn Langdon (3.76), #3 Tony Schumacher (3.72) v #14 Terry McMillen (3.84) and #6 Brittany Force (3.74) v #11 J.R. Todd (3.79). The winners from the first round were Steve Torrence (3.76)who in round 2 faced Morgan Lucas (4.36), Richie Crampton (3.79) who faced Clay Millican (3.72), Doug Kalitta (3.72) who faced Antron Brown (3.76), and Terry McMillen (3.83) who faced J.R. Todd (3.76). The most surprising upset from the first round was McMillen over Tony Schumacher, but in this sport anything can happen and having a cylinder out can lose you a race. The winners from round two were Steve Torrence (3.78) who in the semifinals would face Richie Crampton (4.05), and Doug Kalitta (3.78) who faced J.R. Todd (3.76). The final round was a showdown between two very evenly matched race cars. Steve Torrence (3.74) and Doug Kalitta (3.73). The Winternationals Top Fuel winner, who secured the first spot in the Traxxas Shootout was Steve Torrence with a 3.73.
Going on next to Funny Car. Qualifying for them was filled with very quick times and an unfortunate accident for Gary Densham. He ended up with a totaled race car and couldn’t compete on Sunday, but the most important thing is that he was okay. The number 1 qualifier was last years number 2 finisher in the Countdown Jack Beckman with a stellar 3.88. The ladder for race day looked like this;#1 Jack Beckman (3.88) v #16 John Hale (4.32), #8 Tim Wilkerson (3.96) v #9 John Force (3.96), #4 Alexis DeJoria (3.94) v #13 Jim Campbell (4.16), #5 Del Worsham (3.94) v #12 Cruz Pedregon (4.12), #2 Ron Capps (3.90) v #15 Jeff Diehl (4.28), #7 Chad Head (3.95) v #10 Matt Hagan (3.99), #3 Robert Hight (3.91) v#14 Tommy Johnson Jr (4,25), and #6 Courtney Force (3.94) who would’ve raced Gary Densham. The winners of round one were Jack Beckman (4.24) who in round 2 faced John Force (3.97), Alexis DeJoria (3.96) who faced Del Worsham (4.39), Ron Capps (4.00) who faced Chad Head (3.98), and Robert Hight (3.92) who faced Courtney Force (3.92). The winners from round 2 were John Force (4.13) who in the semifinals would face Del Worsham (3.97) and Ron Capps (3.97) who would face Robert Hight (3.95). The final round would feature a matchup of two power house teams Del Worsham (3.97) for Kalitta Motorsports and Ron Capps (3.93) for Don Schumacher Racing. The Winternationals Funny Car winner, with the first spot in the Traxxas Shootout was Ron Capps with a 3.98.
Finally we have Pro Stock. Out of anybody they had the most changes happen in the offseason regarding their cars and their set up as they switched to EFI or Electronic Fuel Injection. Throughout qualifying there was a lot of talk about the drivability of the cars and how no one really knew how to run this new set up. Obviously it will take some time for everyone to figure it out, but they will. The number 1 qualifier was Greg Anderson with a 6.59. He and his teammates Jason Line and Bo Butner were able to get an early grasp on things as they qualified quite well and were able to go far on race day. Plus it helps that Bo Butner had previous experience with EFI. The ladder for race day looked like this; #1 Greg Anderson (6.59) v #16 Matt Hartford (6.74), #8 Jeg Coughlin (6.64) v #9 Erica Enders (6.65), #4 Drew Skillman (6.61) v #13 Joey Grose (6.67), #5 Vincent Nobile (6.62) v #12 Aaron Strong (6.66), #2 Jason Line (6.59) v #15 V Gaines (6.71), #7 Alex Laughlin (6.63) v #10 Allen Johnson (6.65), #3 Bo Butner (6.59) v Deric Kramer (6.68), and #6 Chris McGaha (6.63) v #11 Shane Gray (6.66). The winners from round one were Greg Anderson (6.59) who in round two faced Jeg Coughlin (6.67), Drew Skillman (6.64) who faced Vincent Nobile (6.67), Jason Line (6.60) who face Allen Johnson (8.38) and Bo Butner (6.60) who faced Shane Gray (6.69). The winners of round two were Greg Anderson (6.61) who in the semifinals faced Drew Skillman (6.65), during Drew Skillman’s round two race with Vincent Nobile, Vincent did come across the centerline and hit the wall, but he was okay and thankfully it wasn’t a major accident. The other winners were Jason Line (6.62) who had a single as Allen Johnson had problems and had to be pushed away from the starting line. Jason Line would face Bo Butner (6.62). The final pair was a battle of the teammates as Greg Anderson (6.62) faced Jason Line (6.62). With the Winternationals Pro Stock winner being Greg Anderson with a 6.61.
I’ve watched a lot of drag racing in my time and I don’t know if I’ve seen finals as close as these three. It was exciting to watch and a great way to kick off the season :). The next race is the CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals, February 26-28 in Phoenix Arizona.
Until next time, congratulations to the winners and here’s to a great season.
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