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Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway Pomona

NOTE: Click on the thumbnails to display the full-size images


FRIDAY

Here's the first two pictures from the Winternationals. It's the top two performers in Top Alcohol Dragster; a great way to start our coverage.

TAD - Joey Severance --- TAD - Shawn Cowie

(LEFT) Making a Friday qualifying pass, Oregon's Joey Severance took the top spot after two of the three sessions, with a great - for the conditions - 5.325 - 270.21. That was a major improvement over his tire-shaking, shutoff pass of 7.489 in the first round of qualifying.

(RIGHT) Holding down the second spot was perennial national contender, British Columbia's Shawn Cowie who followed up a good 5.384 - 271.95 with an even better 5.340 - 275.22 to hold down the second spot on the ladder.


PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE - Qualifying Session #1

PSM - Joey Gladstone --- PSM - Angie Smith

(LEFT) The first session of Pro Stock Motorcycle saw Joey Gladstone make the first sub-6.90 pass of the day, a 6.889 - 195.73, that held onto the #1 spot until late in the session, as he dropped to the #3 spot at the end.

(RIGHT) Running nearly as quick as Gladstone, Angie Smith made a good start to her weekend, with a solid 6.901 - 195.42 to place #5 in the order.

PSM - Scotty Pollacheck --- PSM - Scotty Pollacheck

After contending for the points lead early in the season, Scotty Pollacheck was looking to rebound from three straight first-round losses, and made a good move in that direction, with a 6.865 - 196.64 pass that left him in the #2 spot at the end of the session.


FUNNY CAR - Qualifying Session #1

FC - Jeff Diehl --- FC - Jeff Diehl

Making his third appearance of the season, California's Jeff "The Surfer" Diehl put some big flames out of his "Real Deal-RATT" sponsored car and despite an early shutoff, clocked in at 4.259 - 272.23 to sit in the #8 position after the first round of qualifying

FC - Jim Campbell --- FC - Jim Campbell

Still out there racing after six decades in the sport, "Big" Jim Dunn's car sports the colours of one of his long-time sponsors, the iconic "MoonEyes" brand. With Jim Campbell behind the wheel, the car made a good early move but the candles went out early, stopping the clocks at 4.340 - 216.90, good enough for #9 on the qualifying sheet at the end of the day.

FC - Blake Alexander (left) vs Jim Campbell (right) --- FC - Blake Alexander (left) vs Jim Campbell (right)

Trying hard to chase down Blake Alexander as they headed to the top end, the Dunn Racing car was bathed in green light as it neared the 660' lights, while Alexander opened the gap on Jim Campbell. While Campbell shut off early to a 4.340, Alexander kept the pedal down for the first 3-second run of the weekend, a very good 3.961 - 318.44 that gave them the #1 qualifying spot for the day.

FC - Cruz Pedregon --- FC - Cruz Pedregon

Trying hard to match Alexander's great pass, Cruz Pedregon pushed the "Snap-On" Dodge to an almost as good 3.967 - 317.34 to slide into the #2 spot on the charts, as the team worked hard to rebound from consecutive first-round losses after their comeback victory at Norwalk in June. That was his first victory on the national tour in three years.

FC - Tim Wilkerson (near lane) vs Alexis DeJoria (far 
lane)

This was far from the quickest or fastest pair of the session, as Alexis DeJoria (far lane) smoked the tires right off the line and coasted to a 7-second clocking. Not having much better luck was Tim Wilkerson (near lane) as he lit 'em up shortly after this photo, and also coasted across the line with a 6-second timeslip.

FC - J.R. Todd (near lane) vs ARon Capps (far lane) --- FC - J.R. Todd (near lane) vs ARon Capps (far lane)

The next pair down both kept the throttle to the finish line, with Ron Capps (far lane) opening a gap on J.R. Todd (near lane) and stopping the clocks first with a very good 3.971 - 318.69, good for the #4 position, while Todd ran a bigger speed, but bigger e.t. too, timing in at 4.044 - 322.04 and landed in the #6 spot on the first session sheet.

FC - John Force (near lane) vs Robert Hight (far lane) --- FC - Robert Hight

(LEFT) Running almost side-by-side at this point, the CEO of JFR Racing (aka: The Boss), John Force in the near lane, kept pace with the JFR President, Robert Hight (far lane) until he gave up the fight after pedalling his way to a 4.552 - 283.67 timeslip.

(RIGHT) Running by himself after the Boss shut off, Robert Hight just missed - by one thousandth of a second - taking the top spot on the sheet with a very strong 3.962 - 327.11 pass that also took Top Speed honours for the session.

FC - Matt Hagan (near lane) vs Bob Tasca III (far lane) --- TF - Mike Salinas (near lane) vs Leah Pruett (far lane)

(LEFT) The last pair of Funny Cars didn't card 3-second passes, but it was a good side-by-side race until just past the 660' mark, when Matt Hagan (near lane) in the "DSR Dodge Hellcat" pulled away from Bob Tasca III (far lane), as the "Motorcraft" Mustang lost traction and shut off to a 4.226 - 225.56 clocking. Hagan narrowly missed dipping into the "3's" with a 4.009 - 312.13 that put him #5 on the qualifying list going into Saturday.

(RIGHT) Sporting the colours of the last sponsor ("Travers Tools") for the Johnson Brothers Top Fuel team of 1996, Mike Salinas (near lane) pushed the "Scrappers Racing" entry to a solid 3.840 - 308.35 time, good for #2 on the sheet behind the quicker and faster Leah Pruett (far lane), who stopped the clocks with the low e.t. of the night at 3.780 - 321.88 to take the top spot on the Top Fuel board.

In case you're wondering why there's only one Top Fuel picture from Friday night's lone qualifying session... there was the side-by-side 3-second pair shown above, then Buddy Hull (driving Terry Haddock's car) ran a 4.105 - 278.69.... then the next "quickest" car ran 5.158 at 136 mph. Does that answer the question of why there aren't more pictures. With our photographer down at about the 660 ft. mark, most of the cars were shut off and coasting well before then. Tomorrow has to be better. Stay tuned and find out.


SATURDAY


PRE-RACE PIT ACTION

FC - Ron Capps unloading --- FC - Matt Hagan unloading

(LEFT) Before qualifying got underway, it was time to unload the race cars and prep them. In this case it's Ron Capps and the NAPA Auto Parts Dodge.

(RIGHT) Sited next to the Capps pit is the DSR Performance (DSR-sponsored for this race) Dodge of world champion Matt Hagan.


TOP ALCOHOL DRAGSTER & FUNNY CAR - Final Qualifying Session

TAD - Shawn Cowie

Seemingly running all by himself, Shawn Cowie pushed the "Mundie's Towing" blown alky dragster to a good - but not better - pass of 5.353 - 273.50 that left him in the #2 spot on the final qualifying list. Holding down the #1 position was Joey Severance, who smoked the tires early and shutoff on what should have been a side-by-side battle for the top spot.

TAFC - Doug Gordon --- TAFC - Terry Ruckman (near lane) vs Brian Hough (far 
lane)

(LEFT) After struggling in his first two attempts (a best of 6.024 - 191.81), defending national champion Doug Gordon laid down a better - but still off his normal pace - 5.720 - 261.83 that moved him up from #8 to #4 on the final qualifying sheet.

(RIGHT) Despite the appearance of speed with the blurred background, both Terry Ruckman (near lane) and Brian Hough (far lane) were coasting after early shutoffs. Ruckman's 9.76 crossed the stripe first against Hough's 10.36 effort. Ruckman held on to the #1 spot with his Friday best of 5.621 - 264.08, while Hough sat in the #3 position with his earlier 5.681 - 260.61 from Friday's first session.

Keep watching this page as we add more photos from Saturday's qualifying at Pomona throughout the day. Tomorrow: Sunday's eliminations. Stay tuned!


PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE - Qualifying Session #2


PSM - Angie Smith --- PSM - Eddie Krawiec

(LEFT) Unmistakable in her bright pink leathers, Angie Smith didn't improve on her earlier 6.901 (good for #6 qualifier) effort and only posted a 6.960 - 186.85, with a possible early shutoff.

(RIGHT) Running alongside Smith in this session was one of the Vance & Hines bikes, with former world champion Eddie Krawiec aboard, and he lost half a tenth from his Friday night 6.903 clocking (which put him #7 in the field) and slowed to a 6.950 - 198.15 to remain in the seven spot.

PSM - Angie Smith (near lane) vs Eddie Krawiec 
(far lane) --- PSM - Angie Smith (near lane) vs Eddie Krawiec 
(far lane)

(LEFT) It looks like Angie Smith (near lane) is trailing Eddie Krawiec (far lane) by nearly a full bike length in this shot.

(RIGHT) But she appears to be closing the gap as they near the finish line, with Smith running just one hundredth slower than Krawiec (6.960 - 6.950). What made the difference is that Krawiec left the line first by four hundredths, with an -.004 redlight to Smith's .035 reaction time.

PSM - Scotty Pollacheck --- PSM - Joey Gladstone (near lane) vs Matt Smith (far 
lane)

(LEFT) Making a solid pass to back up his Friday #2 qualifying 6.889 - 195.73 was Scotty Pollacheck, as he turned a 6.957 - 195.73 on his second qualifying attempt.

(RIGHT) Speeding away in the far lane is defending world champion Matt Smith enroute to the quickest pass of the session (6.841- 198.96), only slightly slower than his top qualifying effort from Friday evening (6.806 - 199.20). Trailing in the near lane is Joey Gladstone who slowed nearly a tenth from his earlier #3 qualifying 6.889 pass to a 6.968 - 196.02 on this run.


TOP FUEL - Qualifying Session #2


TF - Shawn Langdon (near lane) vs Doug Kalitta (far 
lane) --- TF - Shawn Langdon (near lane) vs Doug Kalitta (far 
lane)

An intramural battle between the two Kalitta Motorsports drivers featured Shawn Langdon in the near lane, and Doug Kaliita on the far side. Both drivers were looking for much improved results from their rather dismal 6- and 7-second times of Friday evening. We're not sure if the "flames" coming out of Langdon's car are actual flames or raw fuel from dropped cylinders, but nonetheless he got to the finish line first with a decent pass (for the conditions) that just nipped Kalitta's right-there 4.047 - 301.94. We mentioned decent results as the track temperature at the start of the session was 141 degrees and the corrected altitude nearly 4000 ft.

TF - Buddy Hull --- TF - Mike Salinas (near lane) vs Leah Pruett (far 
lane)

(LEFT) Backing up his Friday evening 4.105 pass, Buddy Hull shut the Terry Haddock Racingcar down early, coasting across the line at 4.310 - 209.88 to show that they had the car dialled in. Sitting in the top half of the field at #6 going into the final qualifier had to be a personal best for Hull and Haddock's team.

(RIGHT) Paired up just like on Friday night, the #1 qualifier, Leah Pruett, in the far lane and the #2 qualifier, Mike Salinas, (near lane) went wheel to wheel down the 1000' strip and both ran in the 3's again. Pruett stopped the timers first at 3.980 - 301.33, while Salinas nearly matched her with a 3.985 - 242.36, despite a very early shutoff. Only one driver, Justin Ashley, outran them in the session, with a 3.917 - 308.43 that put him #3 on the ladder going into the final qualifying session.


FUNNY CAR - Qualifying Session #2


FC - Jason Rupert --- FC - Jason Rupert

Still coming to grips with running his "Big Show" Funny Car, Jason Rupert dropped a cylinder at half track, then lost the entire engine in a MAJOR explosion at the finish line. The good news was a career best e.t. and speed at 4.269 - 289.01 that elevated him to the #9 position on the ladder. BUT, the bad news was the concussion from the blowup kayoed the body... and with no spare in the trailer... their weekend was done.

Adding injury to insult, they received an oildown penalty, but one bit of good news came later as they finished qualifying in the #11 position (earning them a first-round date with Alexis DeJoria. EPILOGUE: They weren't able to show for eliminations, but still took home first-round "runnerup" money, that would go some of the way towards a new body.

FC - Bobby Bode Jr. --- FC - Paul Lee

(LEFT) After a mercifully short cleanup of Rupert's engine debris, racing resumed with Bobby Bode Jr. trying to excape from near the bottom of the field (#15 position), and he did so, but only barely, as his 4.682 - 184.75 moved him up two spots to #13 going into the final session later in the afternoon.

(RIGHT) In the next pair, Paul Lee tried to bump back into the field from the #17 spot, but lost the handle at the 660' mark, and took out the timing block to DQ his run and leave him outside the field going into the last session.

FC - Bob Tasca III --- FC - Jim Campbell (near lane) vs Ron Capps (far 
lane)

(LEFT) Running alongside John Force (not shown), Bob Tasca III had an early shutoff and failed to improve on Friday's 4.226 pass, carding a 4.372 - 213.23 that left him in the #7 position.

(RIGHT) This was a more or less side-by-side race, but the scoreboards didn't exactly explode with delight, as both Jim Campbell (near lane) and Ron Capps in the far lane, rang up 6-second passes at barely 100 mph speeds. Capps remained in the #4 spot, while Campbell languished in #11 after the second session was complete.

FC - Cruz Pedregon --- FC - J.R. Todd

(LEFT) Running a single, as scheduled opponent Jeff Diehl elected to remain in the pits and sit on his #8 spot from Friday, Cruz Pedregon wasted a bunch of nitro and could only put a 5.797 - 119.01 on the scoreboards after losing traction at the 330' mark.

(RIGHT) Things weren't any better for J.R. Todd as spun and shook to a 5.505 - 129.42 to remain in the #6 position. Not shown was Robert Hight in the other lane, who ran even worse in the 6-second zone.


TOP ALCOHOL FUNNY CAR - Round 1 eliminations & PRO STOCK - Final qualifying session


We realize that there's some serious gaps in our coverage, but we're grateful for all the photos that Bill Jeffery has so kindly provided. We've got one shot from the first round of Top Alcohol eliminations, and one pic from the last Pro Stock qualifying session before we move into the final sessions for the Top Fuel and Funny Cars.


TAFC - Doug Gordon --- PRO - Aaron Strong (near lane) vs Mason McGaha (far 
lane)

(LEFT) It was a relatively easy win in the first round for Doug Gordon, even though he slowed from his qualifying pace, but his 5.800 - 262.44 was more than enough to cover Nick Januik's (not shown) losing 5.977 - 255.87 pass.

(RIGHT) In the last qualifying session, Washington state's Aaron Strong (near lane) headed for the centerline and was forced to shut off to a 7-second time, leaving him in the #10 slot with his earlier 6.634 - 206.86, while Mason McGaha (far lane) kept the pedal down to record a 6.642 - 208.65. His earlier 6.609 - 208.39 left him in the #6 position.


TOP FUEL - Final Qualifying Session

TF - Steve Torrence --- TF - Brittany Force

(LEFT) With big flames in the late afternoon and a serious arch in the chassis, Steve Torrence climbed out of the basement (#13 with a 6-second best) all the way to the #2 spot with a very strong 3.808 - 322.27 pass. It was also top speed of the meet.... for a few minutes.

(RIGHT) Following Torrence's great run, and also on a solo as three cars sat in the pits, Brittany Force leapfrogged the entire field, going from #13 to #1 with low e.t. and (a new) top speed of the meet, cranking out an awesome 3.714 - 330.72 in the David Grubnic-tuned Flav-R-Pac entry. That run also earned her a first round bye on Sunday morning.

TF - Shawn Langdon

The "DHL" car of Shawn Langdon had the flames up high at the 660' mark, but they went down before the finish line as shown by his 3.854 - 292.01 numbers. Despite the early shutoff, he still climbed one notch on the ladder, from #6 to #5 in the field.

TF - Doug Kalitta (near lane) vs Justin Ashley 
(far lane) --- TF - Leah Pruett (near lane) vs Mike Salinas (far 
lane)

(LEFT) The last two pairs of the final session started with Doug Kalitta (near lane) facing (in the far lane) Justin Ashley and he made a solid move in the right direction, cutting nearly two tenths off his earlier 4.047 best, cranking out a 3.855 - 311.41 to advance one spot on the ladder (#7 to #6). Ashley also made an improvement, albeit smaller, as his 3.899 - 310.27 just slightly eclipsed his previous 3.917 clocking and left him in the #7 position going into Sunday's eliminations.

(RIGHT) The Top Fuel show closed with Leah Pruett (near lane) in her sponsor of the week "ICE Spiked" entry, matched against the "Travers Tools" clad car of Mike Salinas (partially obscured in the far lane). Both ran in the 3's again, but only Salinas improved as he dipped into the 70's with an excellent 3.790 - 318.09 to move from #4 to #3 on the final list. Pruett's good 3.905 - 307.79 left her in the #2 spot with her Friday night 3.780 effort.


FUNNY CAR - Final Qualifying Session


FC - Tim Wilkerson --- FC - Paul Lee (near lane) vs Bobby Bode

(LEFT) With the sun setting as the final qualifying session got underway, the first pair out of the lanes featured Tim Wilkerson, who was sitting in a very precarious #14 position with a best of 5.458 to his "credit". He didn't get all the way to the finish line under power, but kept the flames high long enough to move up three spots to a safe #11 spot on the sheet, with a timeslip.

(RIGHT) Next up were Paul Lee (near lane) and Bobby Bode Jr. in the far lane. Bode was off the throttle at half track and only clocked a 4.950 - 155.63, as he dropped one spot on the ladder to #15, earned with an earlier 4.682 pass. Lee made the most of his last chance, climbing from outside of the field all the way to the #7 spot with a very nice 4.045 - 311.85 result.

FC - Alexis DeJoria --- FC - Ron Capps

(LEFT) Running by herself as scheduled opponent Jim Campbell pulled out of line when team owner Jim Dunn saw that they couldn't be bumped, Alexis DeJoria made her last ditch attempt a good one as she moved from #18 to #6 and a first round matchup with a lower qualified car. Her run wasn't earth-shaking but the 4.021 - 313.73 was the third quickest and fastest of the session.

(RIGHT) Another solo run was in the cards for Ron Capps as Jeff Diehl decided to save the parts and nitro and sit on his earlier 4.259, and Capps made the most of it, jumping from a good #4 to an excellent #1 with a very strong 3.941 - 321.35 to show that the track and atmospheric conditions were finally coming around.

FC - Robert Hight

Running in the second-to-last pair, Robert Hight took his best shot and moved past Blake Alexander into the #2 position with a very good 3.953 - 323.27 run. Trailing in the far lane was partially obscured J.R. Todd, as he lifted early to keep it in his lane and stopped the clocks at 4.234 - 265.38, nearly two tenths slower than his early #7 qualifying 4.044 pass.


SUNDAY


Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals logo --- NHRA Flags flying over Auto Club Raceway --- Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals logo


TOP FUEL - Round #1 Eliminations


TF - Clay Millican --- TF - Shawn Langdon

(LEFT) As the last strains of the national anthem faded into the bedlam of a pair of Top Fuel engines coming to life, the first pair of the day prepared to roll through the water and commence their ritual tire heating exercise. First out was Clay Millican in the "Parts Plus" car, paired with Doug Kalitta (not shown) and it was a good news-bad news day for both racers.BAD with a capital B-A-D for Kalitta, who not only lost with a 4.287-232.19 time, but also charged with his eighth oildown of the season to increase his points penalties to an astronomical 105 points.

The good news for Millican stopped at the finish line as he took the winlight with a 3.843 - 305.49 pass, but as you can see from the photo, did so with numerous cylinders out and some green "stuff" trailing the car. It was the team's sixth oildown of the season and increased their tally to 75 penalty points, but at least they made it to the second round.

(RIGHT) The second pair of Jim Maroney (not shown) and Shawn Langdon saw the heavily favoured "DHL" car take an easy win, despite an early shutoff that rang up a 3.923 - 285.77 on the Auto Club Raceway scoreboards. Best of all: no oil or other debris on the track. PS: Check out the tire distortion as he releases the chutes.

TF - Antron Brown --- TF - Leah Pruett

(LEFT) Running all alone in this photo, Antron Brown took the "Giant Killer" honours by dispatching the almost unbeatable Steve Torrence in the biggest upset of the round. After three miserable qualifying attempts that resulted in a "best" of 5.255, Brown and his "Matco Tools" team found the combination and laid down a solid 3.834 - 318.47 to easily cover Torrence's shaking and smoking 4.472 - 197.10 effort.

(RIGHT) The #2 qualifier, Leah Pruett faced the bottom qualifier (Steve Chrisman in his first NHRA race in nearly two years) and did the expected, easily dispatching him with a decent 3.906 - 311.77, to earn the bye run in the second round. Chrisman might have made it a close race to the 660' mark if he hadn't been second (.184 - .082) of the line.

TF - Brittany Force


FUNNY CAR - Round #1 Eliminations


FC - Matt Hagan (near lane) vs John Force (far 
lane) --- FC - Jim Campbell

(LEFT) The first pair of the first round of Funny Car featured a titanic matchup between defending world champion Matt Hagan (near lane) and 16-time champion John Force in the far lane. Hagan was favoured as he started from the #5 qualifying position, versus Force's #12 spot. Hagan even had the advantage of a lane swap after the cleanup of a huge oildown from the last pair of Top Fuel cars.

And Hagan left first, by slightly more than half a tenth, putting Force at a serious disadvantage. But the big horsepower of Force's machine closed the gap until Hagan's lead at the 660' mark was only 13 thousandths, and at the stripe, Force took the win by a margin of just six thousandths of a second, or barely a nose. A very good candidate for the best race of the day to be sure.

(RIGHT) Could lightning strike twice? The second pair featured #3 qualifier Blake Alexander (not shown) against the never-say-die Jim Campbell and in the second major upset of the round, Campbell took the win by a 4.223 - 289.57 clocking to a losing 4.342 - 248.25 for Alexander when his car headed for the wall just before the 660' mark. That was the first round win for the Jim Dunn team since the February 2020 race in Phoenix. That is truly a very long dry spell.

FC - Robert Hight --- FC - Robert Hight

FC - Bobby Bode Jr. --- FC - Cruz Pedregon

PRO STOCK - Round #1 Eliminations


PRO - Deric Kramer (near lane) vs Chris McGaha (far 
lane) --- PRO - Aaron Strong

(LEFT)

(RIGHT)

PRO - Aaron Stanfield --- PRO - Dallas Glenn (near lane) vs Kyle Koretsky (far 
lane)

(LEFT)

(RIGHT)

PRO - Greg Anderson --- PRO - Troy Coughlin Jr.

(LEFT)

(RIGHT)


PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE - Round #1 Eliminations


PSM - Matt Smith --- PSM - Angie Smith

(LEFT)

(RIGHT)


TOP FUEL - Round #2 Eliminations


TF - Leah Pruett --- TF - Mike Salinas (near lane) vs Clay Millican 
(far lane)

(LEFT)

(RIGHT)

TF - Shawn Langdon (near lane) vs Antron Brown (far 
lane) --- TF - Shawn Langdon (near lane) vs Antron Brown (far 
lane)

(LEFT)

(RIGHT)


FUNNY CAR - Round #2 Eliminations


FC - Bob Tasca III --- FC - Bob Tasca III


PRO STOCK - Round #2 Eliminations


PRO - Aaron Stanfield (near lane) vs Deric Kramer 
(far lane) --- PRO - Erica Enders (near lane) vs Aaron Strong (far 
lane)

(LEFT)

(RIGHT)

PRO - Troy Coughlin Jr. (near lane) vs Kyle Koretsky
(far lane) --- PRO - Greg Anderson

(LEFT)

(RIGHT)


PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE- Round #2 Eliminations


PSM - Matt Smith --- PSM - Eddie Krawiec

(LEFT)

(RIGHT)


TOP FUEL - Round #3 Eliminations


TF - Antron Brown --- TF - Antron Brown

TF - Leah Pruett --- TF - Leah Pruett


FUNNY CAR - Round #3 Eliminations


FC - Ron Capps


PRO STOCK - Round #3 Eliminations


PRO - Erica Enders (near lane) vs Aaron Stanfield 
(far lane)


TOP ALCOHOL DRAGSTER - Final Round Eliminations


TAD - Joey Severance (near lane) vs Shawn Cowie 
(far lane) --- TAD - Joey Severance (near lane) vs Shawn Cowie 
(far lane)


FUNNY CAR - Final Round Eliminations


FC - Ron Capps


TOP FUEL - Final Round Eliminations


TF - Leah Pruett --- TF - Leah Pruett