Kalitta, Hight, Butner win NHRA Winternationals at Pomona
The rain-delayed season-opener for the 2019 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series saw Doug Kalitta (Top Fuel), Robert Hight (Funny Car) and Bo Butner (Pro Stock) emerge winners.
Kalitta took home the Top Fuel victory with a 4.014-second pass at 269.29 mph in his Mac Tools dragster to defeat defending champion Steve Torrence in the final round. Kalitta thus defends his Winternationals crown and brings his career win total to 45.
“This place has always been very special for me,” Kalitta stated. “To have success here is more than you could imagine for me. We were fortunate to get by the Capco guys but we’re going to keep at it.
“We are really hungry, and we’ve got Rob [Flynn, crew chief] and Troy [Fasching, crew chief] doing an awesome job. I’m just really proud of them.”
After qualifying in the seventh position, Kalitta took down Scott Palmer, Billy Torrence and Terry McMillen on the road to victory. Torrence was the No. 1 qualifier for the event and defeated Steve Faria and Mike Salinas as he recorded his seventh consecutive final round appearance and 15th of his career.
Hight powered to the win with a run of 3.881 at 329.75 in his Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro SS to take down Jack Beckman. After finishing as the runner-up at the 2018 Winternationals, Hight emerged victorious at the season-opening event for the fourth time in his career.
“You look at the Funny Car class and I think it’s tougher this year than last,” Hight said. “To come out here and be the No. 1 qualifier and win the race, that’s quite an accomplishment for this team. We’re going to have to be on our game all year long.”
Hight took down Terry Haddock, Bob Tasca III and team owner John Force en route to his 46th career win, while Beckman beat Phil Burkhart Jr., Cruz Pedregon and Don Schumacher Racing teammate Tommy Johnson Jr.
In a rematch of the 2018 Winternationals, Butner defended his event title against teammate Jason Line after driving to a 6.522 at 211.59 run in his Jim Butner’s Auto Chevrolet Camaro, and snatching his eighth career victory.
“We were really struggling during qualifying,” Butner stated, “[but] I definitely feel like we had the best car all four rounds today. I feel like we have a great car and team this year and I’m looking forward to keep going. We’re going to try and win them and the KB Racing team is as strong as ever.”
Butner entered eliminations third in qualifying before taking down Alan Prusiensky, Chris McGaha and two-time champion Erica Enders.
Results at Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals presented by ProtectTheHarvest.com at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona
TOP FUEL: 1. Doug Kalitta; 2. Steve Torrence; 3. Mike Salinas; 4. Terry McMillen; 5. Billy Torrence; 6. Austin Prock; 7. Leah Pritchett; 8. Antron Brown; 9. Richie Crampton; 10. Clay Millican; 11. Steve Faria; 12. Brittany Force; 13. Cameron Ferre; 14. Scott Palmer.
Final: Doug Kalitta, 4.014 seconds, 269.29 mph def. Steve Torrence, 4.008 seconds, 240.25 mph.
FUNNY CAR: 1. Robert Hight; 2. Jack Beckman; 3. John Force; 4. Tommy Johnson Jr.; 5. Bob Tasca III; 6. Cruz Pedregon; 7. Shawn Langdon; 8. Ron Capps; 9. Matt Hagan; 10. Terry Haddock; 11. Tim Wilkerson; 12. Frank Pedregon; 13. J.R. Todd; 14. Gary Densham; 15. Jim Campbell; 16. Phil Burkart.
Final: Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 3.881, 329.75 def. Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger, 3.880, 329.42.
PRO STOCK: 1. Bo Butner; 2. Jason Line; 3. Alex Laughlin; 4. Erica Enders; 5. Matt Hartford; 6. Steve Graham; 7. Val Smeland; 8. Chris McGaha; 9. Kenny Delco; 10. Alan Prusiensky; 11. Deric Kramer; 12. Greg Anderson; 13. Fernando Cuadra; 14. Jeg Coughlin; 15. Jeff Isbell; 16. Rodger Brogdon.
Final: Bo Butner, Chevy Camaro, 6.522, 211.59 def. Jason Line, Camaro, 7.160, 148.58.
Point standings after 1 of 24 events in 2019 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series
TOP FUEL: 1. Doug Kalitta, 117; 2. Steve Torrence, 106; 3. Terry McMillen, 72; 4. Mike Salinas, 70; 5. Billy Torrence, 56; 6. (tie) Leah Pritchett, 52; Austin Prock, 52; 8. Antron Brown, 37; 9. (tie) Richie Crampton, 35; Scott Palmer, 35.
FUNNY CAR: 1. Robert Hight, 121; 2. Jack Beckman, 100; 3. Tommy Johnson Jr., 81; 4. John Force, 71; 5. Shawn Langdon, 58; 6. Ron Capps, 57; 7. Bob Tasca III, 55; 8. Cruz Pedregon, 54; 9. Matt Hagan, 37; 10. (tie) Jim Campbell, 32; Gary Densham, 32; Frank Pedregon, 32; J.R. Todd, 32; Tim Wilkerson, 32.
PRO STOCK: 1. Bo Butner, 120; 2. Jason Line, 97; 3. Erica Enders, 80; 4. Alex Laughlin, 76; 5. (tie) Matt Hartford, 52; Chris McGaha, 52; 7. (tie) Steve Graham, 51; Val Smeland, 51; 9. Rodger Brogdon, 44; 10. Deric Kramer, 37.
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