Auto Club NHRA Finals Sunday Notebook

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ELIMINATION ROUNDS RECAPS

torrence.jpgTOP FUEL ROUND ONE (11:25 a.m.): Points chief Steve Torrence and second-place Brittany Force each superior to spherical two to maintain the championship drama alive. Force beat Terry Haddock with a Three.688 and can tackle Richie Crampton (Three.724) whereas Torrence dispatched fellow Texan Troy Buff with a Three.708 and can battle good buddy Antron Brown (Three.710) with lane selection within the second spherical. Doug Kalitta saved his title hopes alive with an announcement run, Three.684, which was low e.t. of the spherical. His title possibilities now relaxation on second-round losses by each Torrence and Force and an occasion victory for the Mac Tools crew.

Second-round pairings (lane selection first): Brittany Force vs. Richie Crampton; Steve Torrence vs. Antron Brown; Doug Kalitta vs. Clay Millican; Leah Pritchett vs. Shawn Langdon

hgiht-champ1.jpgFUNNY CAR ROUND ONE (11:5 a.m.): Robert Hight locked up the championship, the second of his profession, when his lone remaining title rival, Ron Capps, was upset by Del Worsham. Hight had already crushed Tim Wilkerson with a Three.839, simply .zero04-second off of Jack Beckman’s low e.t. go from qualifying, when Capps pulled to the road. His NAPA Charger faltered briefly at halftrack and he couldn’t get better in time to catch Worsham. Alexis DeJoria, competing in her ultimate occasion earlier than retiring, earned one other experience in spherical two after beating Jim Campbell. 

Second-round pairings (lane selection first): Jack Beckman vs. John Force; Alexis DeJoria vs. Tommy Johnson Jr.; Robert Hight vs. Matt Hagan; Del Worsham vs. Courtney Force

enders2.jpgPRO STOCK ROUND 1 (11:57 a.m.): The battle for the Mello Yello Pro Stock championship will proceed to at the very least the second spherical of eliminations after factors leaders Greg Anderson, Bo Butner, and Jason Line every superior to the quarterfinals. Anderson, the factors chief. Moved a step nearer to his fifth championship after a win over Alan Prusiensky’s Dodge. Butner superior with a 6.581 after Shane Gray’s automotive made a tough transfer to the left after he let the clutch out and Jason Line moved on after Deric Kramer additionally shut off early. The most dramatic run of the spherical got here when Erica Enders defeated her good buddy, Allen Johnson, successfully ending Johnson’s Pro Stock profession. The 2012 champ introduced his retirement earlier this season.

Round two pairings (lane selection first): Greg Anderson vs. Brian Self; Bo Butner vs. Jeg Coughlin Jr.; Erica Enders vs. Jason Line; Drew Skillman vs. Tanner Gray.

pollacheck_0.jpgPRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE ROUND 1 (12:08 p.m.): All three of the Screamin’ Eagle Harley-Davidson bikes of Eddie Krawiec, Andrew Hines, and Chip Ellis superior to the second spherical of eliminations however many of the discuss after the primary spherical centered round two-time champ Matt Smith who thrilled the mbadive Pomona crowd with a savage burnout previous to his spherical one win over Hector Arana Jr. Hines made one of the best run of the spherical with a  6.820, however Scotty Pollacheck was additionally extraordinarily aggressive with a 6.831, 196.07 run in his win in opposition to Fred Camarena.

Round two pairings (lane selection first): Eddie Krawiec vs. Jerry Savoie; Chip Ellis vs. LE Tonglet; Scotty Pollacheck vs. Matt Smith; Andrew Hines vs. Joey Gladstone

brittany4.jpgTOP FUEL ROUND TWO (1:20 p.m.): With factors chief Steve Torrence already defeated in simply forward of her, Brittany Force turned the second feminine Top Fuel champion in NHRA historical past when she defeated Richie Crampton. Torrence had already been crushed by Antron Brown, giving her the possibility to clinch the title, which she did with a convincing Three.679. Force’s win additionally eradicated Doug Kalitta from title rivalry, although Kalitta remained in rivalry for the occasion title with one other sturdy go, a Three.687.

Semifinal pairings (lane selection first): Brittany Force vs. Antron Brown; Doug Kalitta vs. Shawn Langdon

courtney5.jpgFUNNY CAR ROUND TWO (1:35 p.m.): Courtney Force, winless thus far this season, tossed her hat into the ring with a throwdown Three.842 go on a bye run after Del Worsham – who a spherical earlier had ended Ron Capps’ championship bid – was unable to run after struggling an ignition failure throughout startup. New champ Robert Hight additionally blasted out a strong Three.851 and can face his teammate within the ultimate 4. A JFR versus DSR ultimate is ensured as Jack Beckman and teammate Tommy Johnson Jr. superior to the semi’s on the opposite facet of the ladder, although Johnson’s run ended up within the sandtrap after a parachute malfunction.

Semifinal pairings (lane selection first): Jack Beckman vs. Tommy Johnson Jr.; Courtney Force vs. Robert Hight

butner3.jpgPRO STOCK ROUND 2 (1:41 p.m.): The NHRA Mello Yello Pro Stock championship is not going to be determined till at the very least the semifinals after leaders Greg Anderson and Bo Butner each superior. Butner drove to a 6.567 to six.630 win over five-time champ Jeg Coughlin Jr. whereas Anderson stopped Elite crew chief/driver Brian “Lump” Self, who shook the tires and shut off. Anderson additionally ran 6.567, however at a slower 209.75 mph pace so Butner may have lane selection for his or her vital match. In order to win the title, Butner should beat Anderson within the semi’s after which win the ultimate spherical.  Jason Line defeated Erica Enders with a 6.561, however can not win the championship since he can’t overtake teammate Anderson. In addition to the three KB Racing automobiles, rookie of the 12 months favourite Tanner Gray will even advance with a 6.559 to six.554 holeshot win in opposition to Drew Skillman.

Semifinal pairings (lane selection first): Bo Butner vs. Greg Anderson; Tanner Gray vs. Jason Line

tonglet3.jpgPRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE ROUND 2 (p.m.): Teammates Eddie Krawiec and Andrew Hines have moved on to the semifinals of Pro Stock Motorcycle and so they’re joined by Matt Smith and LE Tonglet. The 4 remaining riders have mixed to win 12 world champonships within the clbad. Hines was the quickest rider within the semi’s with a 6.824, 196.41 in his win over Joey Gladstone. Krawiec was additionally according to a 6.828, 196.42 when he defeated outgoing champ Jerry Savoie. Smith, who publicly said in spherical one which he couldn’t win the race, has restated that place following a 6.858, 193.74 in his win over Scotty Pollacheck. In the ultimate pair of the quarterfinals, Tonglet used an enormous holeshot to defeat the Harley-Davidson of Chip Ellis.

Semifinal pairings (lane selection first): Eddie Krawiec vs. Matt Smith; Andrew Hines vs. LE Tonglet

langdon_0.jpgTOP FUEL SEMIFINALS (2:50 p.m.): Shawn Langdon, competing in his ultimate race in a Top Fueler earlier than switching to Funny Car subsequent season, reached his second ultimate spherical within the final three occasions when he beat teammate Doug Kalitta on a holeshot, Three.718 to three.703. Langdon, in search of his first win of the season and the 15th of his nitro profession, will tackle newly topped world champ Brittany Force, who eked out a Three.674 to three.677 victory over Antron Brown, giving her lane selection for the ultimate spherical as she seeks her fourth win of the season.

hight6.jpgFUNNY CAR SEMIFINALS (2:55 p.m.): Newly topped champ Robert Hight beat teammate Courtney Force to achieve his seventh ultimate of the 12 months, however the engine in his Auto Club Camaro let go on the end line. Hight, blinded by smoke and fireplace, crossed the centerline and glanced off the left-lane guardwall earlier than ending up within the sand entice. The crew will start getting ready its backup automotive to compete within the ultimate, the place he’ll tackle Tommy Johnson Jr., who beat his teammate, Jack Beckman, within the different semifinal.

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“I’m fine,” stated Hight. “When that thing blew up it made a hard turn and I couldn’t keep it from going to the wall. The body tilted up and I couldn’t reach the ‘chutes. We have another car back in the pits; we’re going to fix it and come out here and try to end this weekend on an unbelievable note.” The crew’s backup chbadis, which ran in testing Monday after the Las Vegas occasion, can be cloaked within the Camaro physique that Brittany Force has been utilizing in testing. (animated gif)

tanner_0.jpgPRO STOCK SEMIFINALS (Three:14 p.m.): The Pro Stock championship gained’t be determined till the ultimate after Bo Butner defeated his teammate Greg Anderson in a strain packed semifinal. Anderson grabbed an early lead, however Butner saved his title hopes alive with a 6.551, 210.05 to six.564, 209.92 victory. In order to win the title, Butner should defeat rookie of the 12 months favourite, Tanner Gray within the ultimate. Gray punched his ticket to the ultimate after reigning champ Jason Line fouled by seven-thousandths. Butner may have lane selection by 4 thousandths after Gray ran a 6.555. Butner, the 2006 NHRA Comp champion, is winless in opposition to Gray in 4 races thus far this season. 

hines5.jpgPRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE SEMIFINALS (Three:20 p.m.): Harley-Davidson teammates Eddie Krawiec and Andrew Hines will race within the ultimate Pro Stock Motorcycle race of the season. Krawiec, who locked up his fourth championship yesterday, may have lane selection after driving to a 6.803, 196.56 win over Matt Smith’s Polaris Victory Magnum. Hines, in search of his first win of the season and the 48th of his profession, joined Krawiec within the ultimate after a 6.817, 196.02 win over LE Tonglet, who trailed at 6.886, 195.39. Hines helped himself with a .06-second holeshot in opposition to the Nitro Fish rider. 

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PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE FINAL (four:02 p.m.): Andrew Hines, close to lane, picked up the 48th victory of his unimaginable profession when he defeated teammate and newly topped champion Eddie Krawiec within the ultimate spherical. Krawiec was nearly excellent on the beginning line with a .005 gentle however slowed earlier than the end line, permitting Hines to win his first occasion of the season and transfer into second place within the standings. Hines gained with a 6.856, 196.02 whereas Krawiec ran a 6.930 at simply 177.58 mph.

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PRO STOCK FINAL (four:06 p.m.): In one of the crucial dramatic ultimate rounds in NHRA historical past, Bo Butner, far lane, gained the Auto Club Finals and the 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Pro Stock championship after defeating Tanner Gray within the ultimate. Butner wheeled his Camaro to a 6.554, 201.70 within the ultimate to beat Gray’s 6.653, 208.62. Butner had beforehand been winless in 4 races verses Gray. Butner wanted to win the ultimate to be able to go teammate Greg Anderson for the championship because the KB Racing teammates completed 1-2-Three within the standings with reigning champ Jason Line ending third.

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FUNNY CAR FINAL (four:13 p.m.): Tommy Johnson Jr., far lane, took down Robert Hight for his second win of the season after shedding in four-straight ultimate rounds. It’s his first win for the reason that Spring Las Vegas occasion, and his second-straight win on the Auto Club NHRA Finals. He finishes the 12 months in seventh place after beginning the Countdown to the Championship within the No. 5 slot. 

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TOP FUEL FINAL (four:18 p.m.): Brittany Force, close to lane, accomplished her unimaginable season along with her fourth win. Shawn Langdon bumped into hbadle instantly, whereas the Monster Energy Dragster pilot sped to a Three.668-second go. Her 4 wins are probably the most she’s ever had in a season and provides her seven in her profession. She’ll get to rejoice her Top Fuel championship in model tonight. 

Recap: B. Force, Butner win in Pomona to go together with titles; Johnson Jr. and Hines additionally earn wins

LUCAS OIL DRAG RACING SERIES; In addition to the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series competitors, seven winners have been topped within the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series. Final-round outcomes:

Top Alcohol Dragster
Shawn Cowie def. Julie Nataas

Top Alcohol Funny Car
John Lombardo Jr. def. Annie Whiteley

Comp
Dan Fletcher def. Tom Mettler

Super Stock
Robert Cruzen def. Jimmy DeFrank

Stock
Austin Williams def. Chris Stephenson

Super Comp
Bobby Dye Jr. def. Tanner Theobald

Super Gas
Steve Parsons def. Mike Wiblishouser

FEATURES

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There can be a first-time Top Fuel champion topped for the primary time since Del Worsham snagged his title in 2015. Steve Torrence sits in first place with a nine-point lead over Brittany Force, and an 86-point lead over Doug Kalitta. For the Texan to retain his lead, and earn that coveted Mello Yello Top Fuel Championship, he must go only one spherical deeper than Force, and solely two rounds additional than Kalitta. 

Force and Torrence can meet up as early because the semifinals If they meet up in that spherical, it’s going to determine the championship, as Kalitta may have been eradicated by advantage as the 2 rivals having superior that deep into the day. Force begins her day in opposition to Terry Haddock within the first spherical because the No. 1 qualifier, whereas Steve-O takes on Troy Buff because the No. 5 qualifier. 

Kalitta begins motion because the No. 7 qualifier in opposition to Wayne Newby. The heavy hitters on his facet of the bracket embody Clay Millican, Tony Schumacher, and Leah Pritchett. If he reaches the ultimate spherical, he’ll actually have earned it. Here’s what it boils all the way down to for Kalitta: If Torrence and Force win within the second spherical, his hopes for a primary championship are over. If they each lose within the second spherical or sooner, he’s nonetheless alive. This goes to be enjoyable. 

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palmer.jpgThe Auto Club NHRA Finals marks the top of Scott Palmer’s first full season on the tour, a dream-come-true 12 months due to his affiliation with Tommy Thompson and sponsorship from CatSpot litter. He and his crew, led by girlfriend Ashley Fye, certified for the Countdown and though they didn’t accomplish their different objective of profitable a nationwide occasion, there’s nonetheless a lot completely happy and eagerly wanting ahead to subsequent season.

“It definitely turned out better than we could have hoped,” stated Palmer, who for years ran solely partial seasons with an under-funded and undermanned operation. “I knew it would be hard, but it’s way easier to run a full season with parts and help than to run 10 races with no budget and four or five people. We’ve been blessed to be able to work with Steve [Torrence] and Bobby and Dom [Lagana] and we’d love to have Dom’s [Top Fueler] out there full-time with us as a team car.”

The Lagana brothers’ unbiased Nitro Ninja dragster made runs with a six-disc clutch in direction of the top of the season, a know-how that can discover its method into Palmer’s automotive subsequent 12 months.

“Dom got a good baseline and it picked up a couple of hundredths right away in his car, but it’s a whole different animal,” stated Palmer. “We thought about putting it in m y car for the last two races but decided not to because we need to go through all of our current clutch discs before using the ones we’ve already bought for next year, and I’m we’d rather learn with the same clutch discs.”

Palmer’s Scott Compton-driven Liquid Voodoo Top Fuel Hydro additionally completed second within the Lucas Oil Drag Boat Racing Series championship, behind solely Thompson’s Nitrochondriac boat, piloted by Bryan Sanders.

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britt.JPGFor the primary time in her profession, Brittany Force is a title contender on the ultimate occasion of the season. She sits 9 factors behind Steve Torrence, fewer than the 30 factors awarded for a spherical win on the Auto Club NHRA Finals this weekend, and with a little bit of momentum behind her after reaching the ultimate on the latest Las Vegas occasion. 

“It seems unreal to be here,” Force stated. “I’ve watched my dad win 16 championships, and coming into my fifth year, I’m still trying to wrap my head around winning a single race. That’s so huge for me, so exciting. That’s something I’m so proud of. And now to be thinking that we’re in the hunt for a championship, it just seems unreal. But looking at this team and this car, I know we’re totally capable of winning it.”

The driver of the Monster Energy dragster has gathered probably the most factors within the Top Fuel clbad in the course of the Countdown (467), however nonetheless has work to do if she desires to carry the mbadive trophy again to Yorba Linda. She can conceivably go Torrence throughout qualifying by means of a mixture of bonus factors (16 are on the desk by the use of 4 per session) and a max of 10 by being the No. 1 qualifier. Once raceday rolls round, she will be able to earn a complete of 120 by grabbing the Wally. 

Force has gained thrice this season, and cut up her six conferences with Torrence at three apiece. One of these conferences got here within the Reading ultimate, the place Force obtained the victory. All three of the Monster Energy driver’s wins got here in opposition to Countdown contenders, which ought to provide her some confidence rolling into the most important race of her profession. 

“Some drivers feed off how many points they are behind and how far they are back, but for me, I do it one round at a time,” stated Force.  It’s an excessive amount of strain, an excessive amount of on my plate if I have a look at it one other method, after which my focus is misplaced, it’s not in the precise place. It’s not within the automotive, it’s a distraction. For me, much less distraction is best once I’m within the automotive.

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rapisarda.JPGWayne Newby was as shocked to be entered on the Auto Club NHRA Finals as, nicely, nearly everybody else. Santino Rapisarda, the crew chief of the Rapisarda Dragster, known as the driving force a bit greater than every week earlier than the nationwide occasion started to see if he was accessible. Newby, who drives the crew’s dragster within the Australian National Drag Racing Association, obliged. 

The crew is coming off an awesome first weekend within the ANDRA, and is racing in its fifth occasion of the season with its second driver. Ashley Sanford stuffed in for Newby on the St. Louis occasion whereas the Australian headed again to his dwelling nation to take care of his Engineering enterprise. Now, the Aussie is again with the Rapisarda crew for the final race on the NHRA schedule. 

“We were thinking about it, or dad was, he’s kind of the boss,” stated Rapisarda. “It all kind of worked out though, and we’re happy to be back. We flew to Indy, got the car and drove it out here.” 

That’s a 36-hour drive from Indiana to Pomona, at the very least once you’re driving a pair of rigs. And that comes after a really lengthy flight from Australia to Indianapolis. So, it’s truthful to imagine no person on the Rapisarda crew obtained a lot sleep earlier than making its first pair of pbades on Friday night time. That didn’t appear to upset anybody, as Newby ran his greatest go of the season within the second session. That’s after snagging a pair of bonus factors within the first session. 

“We’re robbing the other guys,” joked Rapisarda. 

Newby is presently certified within the fast half of the sphere, however remains to be a few hundredths away from his profession greatest (Three.766). The Rapisarda feels that’s inside grasp right this moment, with circumstances barely hotter than the periods on Friday. The Australian crew has one round-win this season, and can chase its second on Sunday. 

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shawn2.JPGShawn Reed is perhaps a Top Fuel Dragster rookie, however he’s no rookie on the water. He wrapped up his third Lucas Oil Drag Boat Racing Series championship over the weekend (his fifth title on the water general), and can now attempt to shut out his rookie marketing campaign on the tarmac with the second round-win of the season in his ninth race. 

“My team, we get A’s for efforts all days long,” stated Reed. “The funds that Barbara and Floyd Hughes have given us have allowed us to make progress over the last three years. Three years ago, when I started this thing, I was a 4-second car. The second year, I was a 3.90 car. Now, I’m a 3.80 car. Next year, I’ll be a 3.70 car.”

That regular progress is what a profitable small-budget crew seems like, and Reed expects to go a bit bit tougher over 10 races subsequent 12 months. The Hughes Oilfield Transportation Dragster may have a six-disc clutch in it when it begins the following season when it exhibits up on the Lucas Oil Winternationals Presented by Protect the Harvest, which Reed figures will shave off a number of hundredths of a second. 

“It’s getting easier every time, but I take a couple months off and I’m a little behind it,” stated Reed, who estimates he has about 60 pbades within the automotive. “If it takes me about four or five years to get to 100, well, you’re forgetting more than you learn.”

The dragster picked up a brand new sponsor in Global Electronic Technology, which goes to badist the automotive run a bit bit tougher subsequent season, too. Reed gained’t be chasing a Countdown to the Championship spot in 2018, however he’ll actually be an element to smash somebody’s raceday at each race he attends. 

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The Funny Car championship was nearly misplaced for Robert Hight earlier than we obtained to Sunday as his special-edition California Highway Patrol Auto Club Camaro was not certified after three periods. The tire broke free halfway by means of his ultimate qualifying go, however he was capable of collect the automotive again in and qualify within the no. 15 spot with a blower-backfiring four.132.

“I knew I had to get it hooked up again because it would never had made it to the lights without blowing up, so I pedaled it and it hooked up,” he stated. “It blew up anyway, however we obtained in.

“For whatever reason what we’ve been doing everywhere wasn’t working here,” he defined. “The first two runs it shook in the identical spot however for various causes. The third run we hit a bump early. We have a automotive that may win this factor. It’s not like we’re misplaced. We simply have to regulate to it and drive good. The stress and every part right this moment is form of apply for the stress I’m going to have [today], and we obtained by means of it.”

The supercharger backfire broken the firewall dangerous sufficient that the crew determined to sideline the California Highway Patrol-themed physique they’d been working in favor of 1 with their conventional Auto Club livery.

Hight enters Sunday with a slim eight-point lead over Ron Capps and, with each drivers on the identical facet of the ladder. Hight and Capps can face off as early because the semifinals. If they meet up in that spherical, it’s going to decide who goes dwelling with the championship. First, Hight must undergo Tim Wilkerson within the first spherical. He would then have to beat the winner of Matt Hagan and Gary Densham within the second spherical of motion. 

Capps, the No. 6 qualifier, will get Del Worsham within the first spherical. If he wins that spherical, he will get the winner of the Courtney Force-Jeff Diehl battle. That’s one other matchup with potential title implications, though that’s solely true if each Capps and Hight fall within the first spherical. 

Force enters Sunday 113 behind Capps and Hight. She wants each drivers she’s chasing to lose within the first spherical, after which she must win the race to lock up her first Funny Car championship. It’s a longshot (Hight and Capps haven’t misplaced within the first spherical of the identical race all season), however that’s the form of storybook ending we’ve seen in Pomona earlier than. 

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diehl2.jpgIt can be laborious to under-appreciate the trouble and dedication that Jeff Diehl, spouse Leeza, and their band of renegade crewmen have out collectively this season, working 19 occasions just about out of their very own pockets and conserving the mbadive groups trustworthy, however the Diehls are able to take it to an entire ‘nother stage in 2018. Call 2018 “The Real Diehl” or “Serious Diehl,” however he’s going to ratchet it up within the face of the stiff competitors that can happen within the clbad subsequent 12 months.

“I’m actually out looking for money for next year,” he stated. “I do know I have to take it up one other stage. I’ve employed some advertising individuals and I’m studying to cease and discuss to individuals the place I by no means had time earlier than, as a result of I’ve to alter. Honestly, we got here into this season attempting to get this out of our system. I advised Leeza, ‘Let’s simply actually push it and possibly we’ll burn ourselves out,’ however all we actually did was embarrbad ourselves and need to do it higher, so now it’s worse than it’s ever been.

“We’ve gotten a lot of help from a lot of the teams out here that help me out with parts to keep me going. We get a little bit of help here and there [he’s banner Excel Drywall of Sumner, Wash., on the car this weekend] that have allowed us to stay after it. Right now, it looks like I’ll finish the season with the same amount of money I started the year because the car is basically paying for itself.”

That form of monetary “success” doesn’t come with out sacrifices and cooperation.

“I think I’ve burned out every free help guy I could get and put them up at some pretty fleabag hotels, and Leeza and I sleep in the truck in the pits most races,” he stated. 

Diehl has order two new Camry our bodies from Kalitta Motorsports and has employed veteran tuner Johnny West to badist the crew get pointed in the precise route, particularly within the clutch are, the place the crew was struggling. He thinks it could be the ultimate piece of the puzzle he’s been lacking.

“I went through their stuff Thursday night and fund some stuff that didn’t quite make sense, just the way stuff was getting adjusted and put together,” stated West, “My concentration on any car is behind the engine plate. I could give a [care] about what the team is doing with the motor. We’re close already; I didn’t expect that 4.10 [Friday]. Jeff is an extremely mechanically inclined guy, so there’s very little babysitting I’ll have to do. It’s just putting things together a different way from what they’ve been doing.”

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The season hasn’t turned out fairly the best way that Del Worsham had hoped, with the previous world champ failing to make the Countdown in his first 12 months again as a household operation and his father, Chuck, battling well being points, however the 39-time nationwide occasion winner stays optimistic as ever as they battle the mega groups that he as soon as was a part of it.

“You’ll never hear me complain; I knew what I signed up for,” he stated. “I know what we’re up against because I ran with those guys. But I feel good. The car is actually running as good as it has all year and we don’t hurt any parts; I just have to get it down the track.  It’s just been different stuff, like the blower belt coming off or the car gets out of the groove; it’s always something.”

Worsham is also studying the brand new AJR Stage Three clutch bundle that, proper now, solely he and Brittany Force are utilizing. “It’s the best that money can buy and it works to perfection,” he stated. “If it [messes] up, it’s our fault. The engine is good, and we need to do a little bit of work on the chbadis, but next year will be a lot better.”

Worsham remains to be engaged on outing collectively advertising companions for one more full season in 2018, however he feels that he’s far sufficient alongside to be serious about one other full season.

“If you remember, it took us three years to get the DHL [Funny Car] to be a championship car; we were pretty rough to start out,” he stated. “It took us a year and a half just to win rounds. When you’re racing these machines out there it’s tough.”

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alexis.JPGFor the final time in her profession, Alexis DeJoria will strap right into a Funny Car. The winner of seven nationwide occasions, 5 in Funny Car, returns to the monitor that began all of it as she prepares to retire from NHRA Drag Racing. 

“Growing up in Southern California, Pomona was ‘the track.’ It was my home track and where I first witnessed NHRA Drag Racing,” stated DeJoria, a Venice Beach native who now calls Austin, Texas dwelling.

DeJoria captured her fifth win in Brainerd earlier this season, and is hoping to shut out her profession with a victory. She introduced her retirement in early October, citing a need to spend extra time along with her household. 

“As much as I’m looking forward to going back to Pomona this weekend, it’s bittersweet because it’s my final race,” stated the driving force of the Tequila Patron flopper. “This track holds a lot of history for me. It’s where I became the first female in NHRA history to make a three second Funny Car run, and where I became the first woman to compete in 100 Funny Car events. I raced Division Seven here. It’s a special place for me.”

The driver has but to achieve a ultimate spherical in Pomona, one thing she will be able to treatment this weekend. She’ll do it with loads of family and friends in attendance, together with her father and grandma. 

“There’s going to be a lot going on this weekend. It will be exciting and fun but, of course, we want to go out with a bang and win our final race together,” she stated. “As much as that track means to me, a win there would be unreal.”

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It hasn’t been the Countdown to the Championship Tommy Johnson Jr. hoped for, however he and the remainder of the Make-a-Wish crew is already gearing up for subsequent season. That contains making a reasonably vital change to his Funny Car for the Auto Club NHRA Finals. 

“We stayed to test after the Las Vegas race and worked with a six-disc clutch set-up that showed a ton of potential,” stated Tommy Johnson.

The six-disc clutch is already employed on two of his Don Schumacher Racing teammates’ floppers (Jack Beckman and Matt Hagan), however not Ron Capps’ NAPA Auto Parts machine. The plan is to run with the six-disc clutch in Pomona, after which transfer ahead with all of it subsequent season. Johnson beforehand employed a five-disc clutch, which was beforehand the usual within the clbad. 

“I’m very enthused about what we learned during testing,” stated Johnson. “We’re going to stay to the six-disc going into the final race of the 12 months and attempt to get a head begin on subsequent 12 months.”

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As far as first seasons in a Funny Car go, you are able to do loads worse than the one loved by J.R. Todd. He gained twice, together with on the U.S. Nationals, his dwelling race and, you understand, the most important occasion of the season. Given these pair of wins, and the top of steam he entered the Countdown to the Championship with, it’s comprehensible he’s a bit disillusioned with how the playoffs have gone. 

“The end of the year has definitely been a disappointment for us,” Todd stated. “Your expectations change throughout the year, but I’m pleased with how (the switch from Top Fuel to Funny Car) have gone. I’m doing a better job driving this thing, and with points-and-a-half I can finish in seventh, which is a realistic goal.”

Todd made the transfer from the SealMaster Dragster to the DHL Funny Car this season, and whereas it took a bit time, he’s acclimated to it nicely. He obtained his first victory on the Toyota NHRA Sonoma Nationals, and adopted it up with the mbadive win on the U.S. Nationals in Indy. He began the Countdown with a pair of spherical wins in Charlotte, however hasn’t gained a spherical within the 4 races that adopted it. 

Being out of the working for the Funny Car title has allowed them to check a bit in the course of the Countdown, which he hopes will permit them to hit the bottom working in 2018. Having a full 12 months of expertise in a flopper will even badist issues, as a lot of the early a part of the 2017 season was spent getting Todd snug within the automotive pushed by Del Worsham in 2016. 

“This year we can really try to test some stuff and throw down right off the bat, while this year we were trying to get me comfortable,” stated Todd. 

Despite the progress he’s made, Todd sees room for enchancment. 

“Any time you’ve got a handle on these things, you probably need to quit because it’s never the same each time you make a pbad,” stated Todd. “That’s the cool part of it, is trying to face the unexpected.” 

He’ll get an opportunity to race together with his teammate, and buddy, Shawn Langdon for a full season in 2018; that’s one thing he didn’t get this 12 months. Todd will get to do it in the identical clbad subsequent 12 months, as Langdon will make the identical transition in 2018 Todd made this previous season. 

“I’m looking forward to next season already, even though I don’t want this season to end,” Todd stated. “Shawn and I, we’ve been trying to help each other a lot. Just giving each other different ideas of what to do, and I think next season will be even better with him driving a Funny Car.”

It figures to be extraordinarily aggressive subsequent season, one thing Todd is all too conscious of. 

“Certain races it’s going to be tough just to qualify,” he stated. “I would say, next year is going to be the most competitive clbad out here, if it’s not already.”

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Normally, Erica Enders enjoys an excellent race in opposition to her longtime buddy and rival Allen Johnson, however provided that the Auto Club NHRA Finals is Johnson’s final occasion as a driver in Pro Stock, she’d a lot favor a special opponent within the first spherical.

“Me and Allen, his wife, Pam and (my husband), Richie took a photo right before that last qualifying session and it was definitely emotional,” stated the two-time champion. “He’s my best friend out here and after his final qualifying run I watched him do an interview at the top end and he was crying. It was very hard to watch because I love him and Pam so much. It will definitely be emotional to race him but, like we say every time we race each other, may the best man or woman win. We want to win this race, right here, right now, and we have got the car and the team to get it done. I’ll hate to load him first round but that’s just the way the ladder fell this week.”

Enders and Johnson have raced twice this season with each bouts coming in the course of the Countdown to the Championship playoffs. She defeated the Marathon Petroleum Dodge driver within the first spherical in St. Louis whereas Johnson returned the favor at the newest occasion two weeks in the past in Las Vegas.
 
As for Pomona, Enders additionally has a historical past with the enduring So Cal facility. She clinched her first championship within the thrilling winner-take-all ultimate spherical in opposition to Jason Line in 2014. This weekend, Enders is certified within the high half of the sphere with a seventh-best 6.564. Johnson is only a tick behind with a 6.583 greatest.

“We definitely did a better job of qualifying down the stretch,” Enders stated. “This weekend we ran 6.56 every qualifying pbad. We definitely have a race car. It’s going A to B, it’s consistent, it’s under control and I’m driving well. It’s the final race day of the year and even though it’s not been the best year, I’d really like to go out with a bang. The fact we’re racing Allen, yeah, it definitely wasn’t the outcome we were hoping for but A.J.’s a competitor and every time we put our helmets on we try to rip each other’s throats out. It doesn’t matter who’s in the other lane. We want to win.”

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Understating the apparent, Jeg Coughlin Jr. hasn’t had the form of 2017 season he anticipated however the five-time Pro Stock champ understands that he’s obtained yet another likelihood to win this season. To that finish, Coughlin turned in considered one of his greatest qualifying efforts of the season when he drove his JEGS.com/Elite Motorsports Camaro to a fourth-best 6.558, 209.46. It is Coughlin’s greatest beginning spot for the reason that Bristol occasion in June, the place he was the low qualifier. 

“So far, so good this weekend,” Coughlin stated. “We got here in and made an actual good run in Q1 that put us No. Three after the primary session. That felt fairly good. In Q2 we simply weren’t fairly as environment friendly as we wished to be happening that proper lane and ended up a number of ticks slower. After going over the info the fellows thought we might clear that up for Q3 after we have been again in the precise lane once more. However, we had a really uncharacteristically excessive wheel stand for a Pro Stock automotive. We have been simply driving the wheelie bars actually, actually laborious because the automotive was actually climbing up there by means of first gear. It in the end lifted the backend off the bottom so we ended up aborting that run.
 
“We obtained issues tamed down for This fall, ran a strong 6.573 that felt clean and sounded actually good to the ear,” Coughlin stated. “It didn’t really do anything crazy and it responded to what Mark [Ingersoll, crew chief] and the boys asked of it. We feel we have a car that can win rounds tomorrow.”
 
Coughlin’s six Pomona victories got here on the season-opening Winternationals in 1999 and 2000 and the NHRA Finals in 1995, 2005 and 2007. He additionally gained a particular 50th anniversary occasion held in Pomona in the course of the summer time of 2001. On seven different events, Coughlin has recorded runner-up finishes right here.

“There’s a heckuva battle going on for the championship in our clbad so we’ll be tuned into that but really what we want to do is sneak in there and get that race trophy,” Coughlin added.

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aj_0.jpgAfter 504 races, 27 wins in 59 finals, and a much-celebrated world championship, Allen Johnson’s profession as a full-time Pro Stock driver has come to an finish. Johnson, and his Marathon Petroleum Dodge went out within the first spherical by the hands of his good buddy, Erica Enders. Johnson managed to depart with the two-time champion, .024 to .031, however he needed to elevate after his Dodge Dart made a transfer in direction of the centerline. The ultimate numbers favored Enders, 6.554 to a coasting 6.979.

“Who better to lose to?” stated Johnson about his good buddy. “I about crashed it out there. I got over towards the centerline. I’ve had a great career and I can’t thank the fans enough. Thank you to everyone who made all this possible for 22 years.”

“Thank you for having us out here,” added Johnson’s father and engine builder, Roy. “I hate we got in trouble out there. This has been a pleasure. I’m Pleasure. going to miss it.”

Ending his skilled Pro Stock profession with 399 begins, Johnson isn’t positive what the longer term holds. He’s explored a number of choices together with returning as a crew proprietor/supervisor and resuming his sportsman racing profession, maybe with a Dodge Challenger Factory Showdown effort.

“The only way I’ll come back and get my 400th [race day start] in my setup is if someone brings me a check for two million dollars tomorrow,” stated Johnson. “I’m sure I’ll be back in something. I’m just not sure right now. It’s been a good run but it is time to do something different.”

 

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hines2.jpgOverlooked within the drama surrounding the championship battle within the Pro Stock Motorcycle clbad  and Eddie Krawiec’s  fourth-title is the truth that Harley-Davidson teammate and five-time champ Andrew Hines has nonetheless not gained a race this season. Hines, who has 47 wins in his profession, has three runner-up finishes. He misplaced to Krawiec in Gainesville and the autumn Charlotte occasion and he additionally dropped the St. Louis ultimate to LE Tonglet. He’s been fast sufficient to win at most occasions, however has been snakebitten within the late rounds.

“We’ve got one more chance to make it right,” stated Hines. “We’ve had a good bike for most of the year but it hasn’t worked out. I’ve been close a few times. All of my finals have been close. I lost to Eddie in Gainesville by four-thousandths and LE beat me in St. Louis by six-thousandths. That’s a total of a hundredth of a second that could have given me two wins.”

Hines figures that he’s obtained an excellent shot to win the Pomona finale. He is the No. 2 qualifier with a 6.799 and he’s additionally obtained a good ladder with former champions Krawiec, Jerry Savoie and Matt Smith all on the opposite facet. Hines races rookie Ryan Oehler in spherical one.

“We made my bike have a 1.04 sixty-foot time and that’s really impressive,” stated Hines. “Chip [Ellis] also had a 1.04 and his bike is set-up much differently than mine. We had to add 40-pounds to his frame but we obviously got the set-up pretty close.”

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smith-bo.jpgIn his ultimate race with the Polaris/Victory model, Matt Smith was within the temper to do one thing a bit completely different so he determined to placed on a present. Smith advised his fellow Pro Stock Motorcycle racers that he was going to do an “epic burnout that would put [Pro Stock car burnout king] Deric Kramer to shame” and he didn’t disappoint. Smith roasted the rear tire on his Victory Magnum to the 300-foot mark in his spherical one battle in opposition to Hector Arana Jr. Smith went thus far down monitor that he really shut the bike off, and was pushed again to the beginning line. All of this befell earlier than Arana’s crew occasion fired their Lucas Oil Buell. Smith’s crew re-fired the bike after Arana did his burnout and he went on to win with an off-pace 6.99 after Arana shut off early.

“I just wanted to do something crazy; something different,” stated Smith. “I never get the chance to do a big burnout and I thought, what the heck. Let’s do it. I also wanted to scuff in a new tire. I was in sixth gear before I got to the Christmas Tree and I just let it eat. We figured we weren’t going to win the race. I just don’t have the bike for it this week so we did something fun.”

In preparation for his stunt, Smith put in an old-style clutch that may settle for the added warmth and abuse of the prolonged burnout. He additionally made positive the engine was further cool. 

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Scotty Pollacheck will lengthy keep in mind the 2017 season as one of the best of his lengthy profession however he’s additionally tempted to recollect what may need been. Pollacheck entered the Auto Club Finals because the No. four seed within the Countdown and getting into Sunday’s ultimate eliminations, he nonetheless has an opportunity to overhaul five-time champ Andrew Hines for the No. Three spot. Even although he’s nonetheless in search of his first-career victory, that’s an enormous plus for Pollacheck, who has appeared in finals.

Pollacheck’s fortunes took a flip for the higher when he joined the Stoffer/Underdahl crew this 12 months. One of the game’s premiere Suzuki outfits, they put each of their full-time riders, Pollacheck and Karen Stoffer into the highest ten.

“This has been a great year,” stated Pollacheck. “Yes, I still need to win a race but I’m having fun and I’ve got a great bike under me. That’s what matters most. We have a great atmosphere in this came. We all work together and we all communicate well and when one team needs help, everyone pitches in to get the job done. That’s the way successful teams operate.”

For all the nice issues which have occurred this 12 months, Pollacheck has additionally absorbed a few powerful losses. As somebody who is thought for being an awesome beginning line racer, he’s misplaced a number of key rounds on holeshots, together with a pair in the course of the Countdown. Rather than lament what may need been, Pollacheck is extra apt to give attention to his future.

“Those [losses] are on me,” stated Pollacheck. “We fought some issues with our bike this year and that hurt my lights but we just didn’t get it fixed in time and it cost a few rounds. We’ve got a handle on things now and we’re moving in the right direction. I really think we’re going to have a great year in 2018. I’m looking forward to it.”

 

PHOTOS

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The SealMaster Track Walk opened the day, permitting followers to stroll the historic Auto Club Raceway dragstrip on which champions can be topped later within the day.

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Champions of NHRA’s Hot Rod Heritage Series have been acknowledged in the course of the pre-race ceremony.

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Lucas Oil Alcohol Dragster champ Joey Severance, left, and Alcohol Funny Car king Shane Westerfield loved amusing backstage earlier than being launched to the group.

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Retiring Pro Stock racer Allen Johnson was saluted by his friends, who joined him onstage sporting commemorative t-shirts.

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Alexis DeJoria additionally ready for her ultimate day of battle as the favored Funny Car star is stepping out of the badpit after this occasion.

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The Funny Car championship battle ended early as Robert Hight, proper, clinched his second championship after Ron Capps misplaced in spherical one.

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The thrill of victory …

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… and the agony of defeat.

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Brittany Force turned the second girl to win an NHRA Mello Yello Top Fuel championship, claiming the crown in spherical two with a victory over Richie Crampton after factors chief Steve Torrence had been upset by Antron Brown.

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Brittany was congratulated on the high finish by her sister, Funny Car driver Courtney, after their mutual second-round wins.

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Force household patriarch John was overcome with emotion and was consoled by spouse Laurie after their daughter gained the championship.

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On the flip facet, the Torrence crew, and specifically Dom Lagana, have been disconsolate after shedding the title following a dominating season.

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Mello Yello’s Al Rondon congratulated Bo Butner, who claimed his first profession NHRA Mello Yello Pro Stock championship.

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Butner was congratulated by fiancee Randi Lyn Shipp after claiming the Pro Stock crown.

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Event champions, from left, Eddie Krawiec, Tommy Johnson Jr., Bo Butner, and Brittany Force celebrated the Auto Club NHRA Finals victories.

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Your 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series champions, from left, Brittany Force (Top Fuel), Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle), Bo Butner (Pro Stock), and Robert Hight (Funny Car).

PREVIEW

Here are the ladders and first-round pairings for the 4 skilled clbades.

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