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The latest update as of August 19, 2021

We're just starting to work on the Sunday (eliminations day) photos from the Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals and will start posting them this afternoon and hope to have them all up and captioned by tomorrow. Keep refreshing this page to see the latest updates and stay tuned for our coverage of the NHRA Eastern Regional (Epping, NH) and the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals (Brainerd, MN) over the weekend.

Today's photos from eliminations were taken from a different vantage point as ace lensman Bill Jeffery moved down to the 1000' mark to capture the chutes coming out and engine eruptions as the cars were at maximum speed.

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