- Defending Top Fuel world champion Steve Torrence leads the category after remaining undefeated during the playoffs in 2018.
- Robert Hight took the Funny Car top spot with his second qualifying pass as he starts the campaign for his third world title.
- Erica Enders leads the Pro Stock class after her first run of the 2019 season.
POMONA, CCA – February 9, 2019 – (Motor Sports Newswire) – The 2019 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season kicked off Friday and defending Top Fuel world champion Steve Torrence piloted to the category’s qualifying lead at the 59th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals presented by ProtectTheHarvest.com at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.
Robert Hight (Funny Car) and Erica Enders (Pro Stock) are also provisional qualifying leaders in their respective categories at the first of 24 events on the 2019 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.
Torrence leads the Top Fuel category with a run of 3.716-seconds at 330.07 mph in his Capco Contractors/Torrence Racing dragster posted during the first qualifying session of 2019. After remaining undefeated during the 2018 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Countdown to the Championship, he is looking for his first No. 1 qualifier of the season in hopes of continuing the streak.
“Really good run to come out of the trailer,” Torrence stated. “We had a really good test session out in Phoenix and to come out here and pick up where we left off last year was the plan. Being able to come out and do it is a whole different thing and so far we are doing well. We are just trying to keep with the momentum.”
Defending event winner Doug Kalitta is currently second in his Mac Tools dragster with his run of 3.716 at 326.87 and Scott Palmer is third with a 3.720 at 328.38.
Hight leads the Funny Car category with a run of 3.871 at 329.67 recorded during his second pass of the day in his Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro SS. He’s chasing the top position at the season-opener after wrapping up 2018 second overall in the points.
“Honestly, I thought the run was going to be in the top four,” Hight said. “I thought there were some other cars that were going to run equally as well so I didn’t think it was going to hold up. I feel like there’s more left in it and Jimmy Prock (crew chief) is pretty enthused about it.”
Defending Funny Car world champion J.R. Todd sits sixth currently after a 3.940 at 319.68 in his DHL Toyota Camry, while last year’s Winternationals winner Matt Hagan is eighth following his 3.971 at 323.19.
In Pro Stock, Enders currently holds the top spot after driving to a 6.528 at 212.09 in her Melling Performance/Elite Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro in the first qualifying pass of the day. She is seeking to secure her first No. 1 qualifying position of the season after locking in one in 2018.
“It’s huge to go No. 1 on day one at Pomona,” Enders stated. “We didn’t have many No. 1 qualifiers over the last couple of years, so we built a new race car this year. To come out here and just go low like that was pretty awesome.”
Bo Butner sits in the No. 2 spot after a 6.530 run at 213.10 in his Nitro Fish Chevrolet Camaro, while Rodger Brogdon will enter Saturday third in the qualifying order following his pass of 6.543 at 212.06.
Qualifying at the Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals presented by ProtectTheHarvest.com continues at 12:00 p.m. on Saturday.
POMONA, CA — Friday’s results after the first two of four rounds of qualifying for the 59th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals presented by ProtectTheHarvest.com at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, first of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Qualifying will continue Saturday for Sunday’s final eliminations.
Top Fuel — 1. Steve Torrence, 3.716 seconds, 330.07 mph; 2. Doug Kalitta, 3.716, 326.87; 3. Scott Palmer, 3.720, 328.38; 4. Mike Salinas, 3.729, 324.28; 5. Billy Torrence, 3.738, 329.99; 6. Antron Brown, 3.758, 328.22; 7. Clay Millican, 3.759, 320.43; 8. Austin Prock, 3.771, 326.63; 9. Richie Crampton, 3.789, 319.60; 10. Brittany Force, 3.849, 305.01; 11. Cameron Ferre, 4.247, 196.85; 12. Terry McMillen, 4.799, 149.91; 13. Steve Faria, 5.574, 118.60; 14. Leah Pritchett, 6.406, 96.46.
Funny Car — 1. Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 3.871, 329.67; 2. Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 3.915, 304.87; 3. Shawn Langdon, Toyota Camry, 3.927, 325.77; 4. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 3.929, 314.61; 5. Cruz Pedregon, Charger, 3.930, 328.14; 6. J.R. Todd, Camry, 3.940, 319.98; 7. Bob Tasca III, Ford Mustang, 3.944, 316.52; 8. Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.971, 323.19; 9. Jim Campbell, Charger, 4.024, 315.78; 10. Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.044, 253.37; 11. John Force, Camaro, 4.101, 330.23; 12. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.120, 251.95; 13. Gary Densham, Mustang, 4.241, 303.78; 14. Phil Burkart, 8.584, 79.12; 15. Frank Pedregon, Toyota Camary, 8.840, 73.65; 16. Jeff Diehl, Camry, 12.042, 80.25.
Pro Stock — 1. Erica Enders, Chevy Camaro, 6.528, 212.09; 2. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.530, 213.10; 3. Rodger Brogdon, Camaro, 6.543, 212.06; 4. Deric Kramer, Camaro, 6.546, 210.57; 5. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.549, 211.53; 6. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.553, 212.06; 7. Kenny Delco, Camaro, 6.554, 210.67; 8. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.556, 211.89; 9. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.563, 211.59; 10. Jeg Coughlin, Camaro, 6.571, 211.00; 11. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.578, 209.65; 12. Fernando Cuadra, Camaro, 6.620, 210.93; 13. Steve Graham, Camaro, 6.623, 210.14; 14. Alan Prusiensky, Dodge Dart, 6.648, 208.46; 15. Jeff Isbell, Ford Mustang, 6.664, 208.33; 16. Joey Grose, Camaro, 6.685, 207.46.
Not Qualified: 17. Shane Tucker, 6.715, 204.88; 18. Val Smeland, 12.089, 73.92.
To purchase general-admission or reserved seats, call 800-884-NHRA (6472). Tickets also are available online at www.NHRA.com/tickets. Kids 12 and under are free in general admission areas with a paid adult. All students can save 50 percent on general admission at the gate with a student ID. To honor the Salute to First Responders, military and first responders can save 20 percent on general admission tickets at the gate. For more info about the NHRA visit www.NHRA.com.
Headquartered in Glendora, Calif., NHRA is the primary sanctioning body for the sport of drag racing in the United States. NHRA presents 24 national events featuring the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, and E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series presented by J&A Service. NHRA provides competition opportunities for drivers of all levels in the NHRA Summit Racing Series and the NHRA Drags: Street Legal Style presented by AAA. NHRA also offers NHRA Jr. Street program for teens and the Summit Racing Jr. Drag Racing League for youth ages 5 to 17. In addition, NHRA owns and operates four racing facilities: Atlanta Dragway in Georgia; Gainesville Raceway in Florida; Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis; and Auto Club Raceway at Pomona in Southern California. For more information, log on to NHRA.com, or visit the official NHRA pages on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
Source: National Hot Rod Association