NHRA Story
National Dragster presents Tricky Tipster's Atlanta picks
Thursday, May 15, 2014


For more than five decades, the National Dragster staff has tested its prognosticating skills prior to each national event, putting odds on the top eight racers it thinks have the best shot at victory in Tricky Tipster, which is first posted on NationalDragster.net the Wednesday before each event, then on NHRA.com the following day. This week, Tricky Tipster handicaps the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals. Southern Nationals Logo
TOP FUEL
Funny Car I Pro Stock I Pro Stock Motorcycle I Pro Mod
Antron Brown ANTRON BROWN
Matco Tools
The defending event winner enters his best race in full stride after two straight wins. He's the man to beat. 3-2
  
Doug Kalitta DOUG KALITTA
Mac Tools
He's driving the most competitive dragster he has had since he scored back-to-back wins here in 2005 and 2006. 3-1
  
Shawn Langdon SHAWN LANGDON
Al-Anabi Racing
The champ is back on the upswing after an uncharacteristically slow start. Fast car, quick reactions make him tough to contend with. 4-1
  
Steve Torrence STEVE TORRENCE
Capco Contractors
"Semifinal Steve-o" scored his first win here two years ago and returns with a two-pronged assault with father Billy making his season debut. 5-1
  
Khalid alBalooshi KHALID ALBALOOSHI
Al-Anabi Racing
The Houston runner-up seems to make it all the way to the end when he gets rolling. Co-crew chief Joe Barlam had a great race here with Brandon Bernstein last year. 7-1
  
J.R. Todd J.R. TODD
Optima Batteries
This team has the potential to be formidable with Todd becoming increasingly comfortable in the hard-running car. 8-1
  
Spencer Massey SPENCER MASSEY
Battery Extender
He has qualified No. 1 here more than he has at any other racetrack. He has made it out of the first round at every race this year despite qualifying in the bottom half more times than not. 9-1
  
Tony Schumacher TONY SCHUMACHER
U.S. Army
Despite the numerous accolades he has rounded up in his career, he's 0-4 in finals in Atlanta with just one No. 1 qualifying effort to his credit. 10-1
 

FUNNY CAR
Robert Hight ROBERT HIGHT
Auto Club
Ford
With five straight finals, three wins, and the largest points lead in any class, he’s the easy pick for the top spot, and he’ll stay here until someone else proves they should be No. 1. 3-2
  
Alexis DeJoria ALEXIS DEJORIA
Patrón XO Café
Toyota
Stumbled a little in Houston but with two wins and a run to the final four in Charlotte, this team has been far too good this year to write off just yet. 4-1
  
Ron Capps RON CAPPS
NAPA Dodge
Has been quietly putting together some really solid performances, including low e.t. of the first round in Houston and three semi’s in the last four events. If he can find a way to improve his Sunday luck, he could really cause some headaches. 5-1
  
Tommy Johnson Jr. TOMMY JOHNSON JR.
Make-A-Wish
Dodge
Based on qualifying, where he has been top three the last three events, we believe he has one of the best cars in the class. If only he could find a way to bring his qualifying success over to race day. 6-1
  
John Force JOHN FORCE
Castrol GTX
Ford
Has been on a performance roller coaster as of late, with a good performance one race and a bad one the next. Since Houston was on the bad side, it would stand to reason he should be a contender in Atlanta. 8-1
  
Jack Beckman JACK BECKMAN
Valvoline/DSR
Dodge
Made Tipster look foolish for leaving him out of the Houston rankings, but while his run to the final there had some really great moments, there were also some challenges, leaving us still a little cautious about him. 9-1
  
Del Worsham DEL WORSHAM
DHL Toyota
They’ve done everything but win this year, so it’s not a question of if they will win but when. Why not now at the site of Worsham’s first victory? 10-1
  
Tim Wilkerson TIM WILKERSON
Levi, Ray & Shoup
Ford
Wilk had one of the most consistent qualifying efforts in both Charlotte and Houston, and though that didn’t translate into big Sunday successes, his car has proven capable of running with the class’ top dogs. 12-1
 

PRO STOCK
Allen Johnson ALLEN JOHNSON
Team Mopar/J&J
Dodge
Not many people would pick against EE right now, but Tipster is going out on a limb. AJ will be looking to rebound from a first-round loss in Atlanta last year and build upon a runner-up finish three weeks ago in Houston. 2-1
  
Shane Gray SHANE GRAY
FireAde 2000
Chevy
As they say, go big or go home. Tipster is doubling down on the above pick with an even riskier play this high up on the board. Last season’s Southern Nats runner-up has been lurking all year, and he should rise up and claim a Wally soon. 5-2
  
Erica Enders-Stevens ERICA ENDERS-STEVENS
Elite Motorsports
Chevy
EE’s championship plans are right on track. However, running the table is out of the question with half-a-dozen other high-end doorslammers chasing you. Odds suggest this could be a race where her red Camaro doesn’t make it to the money round. 4-1
  
Jeg Coughlin Jr. JEG COUGHLIN JR.
JEGS.com/Mopar
Dodge
Tipster has been waiting all season for Jeg’s new Dart to find the bull’s-eye, and performance numbers from Houston suggest they’re narrowing in on the target. A strong showing here would boost morale and confidence. 6-1
  
Vincent Nobile VINCNET NOBILE
Mountain View
Tire Chevy
After starting out the season with a string of semifinal finishes, Nobile and crew looked like they needed to go back to class. Now, after burning some late-night oil, they appear ready for the test in front of them. 8-1
  
Dave Connolly DAVE CONNOLLY
Charter Communications
Chevy
For much of the season, DC had the better of the Gray Motorsports rides. While the tide has slightly changed, don’t sound any alarms. Connolly is more than capable of snagging a Wally when you least expect it. 10-1
  
Jason Line JASON LINE
Summit Racing
Chevy
Has already found the winner’s circle this season, now has his longtime partner back in the other Summit Camaro. Rumors suggest they may have found some power during the recent break in the schedule. We shall see. 12-1
  
Chris McGaha CHRIS McGAHA
Harlow Sammons/Southwest
Performance &
Machine Chevy
This car has certainly put up quick enough numbers in qualifying of late. Reaction times on Sunday have been a bit of an issue, though. Fix that, and the gang from Texas should go deep into eliminations. 15-1
 

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE
Andrew Hines ANDREW HINES
Screamin’ Eagle
Harley-Davidson
Not only did he win the most recent race, but he looked really good doing it. 3-1
  
Eddie Krawiec EDDIE KRAWIEC
Screamin’ Eagle
Harley-Davidson
The Harley V-Twin program has made great strides since last season. 9-2
  
Matt Smith MATT SMITH
Smith Racing
Buell
This bike/rider combo is too good to go very long between wins. 5-1
  
John Hall JOHN HALL
Smith Racing
Buell
He’s become one of the most consistent riders in the class; almost a guaranteed semifinalist. 7-1
  
Hector Arana Jr. HECTOR ARANA JR.
Lucas Oil Buell
The only thing keeping him out of the winner’s circle is a bit of luck. 7-1
  
Michael Ray MICHAEL RAY
Star Racing
Buell
Honestly, he should be higher than this, but race-day consistency has been missing thus far. 9-1
  
Scotty Pollacheck SCOTTY POLLACHECK
Quality Tire
Buell
Final-round magnet who is just about overdue to claim his first win. 11-1
  
Jerry Savoie JERRY SAVOIE
White Alligator
Suzuki
At some point this year, this bike is going to produce some very impressive numbers. 14-1
 

PRO MOD
MIKE CASTELLANA
Al-Anabi Camaro
Through two events has a win and a runner-up. That’s how championships are won. 3-1
  
JIM LAURITA
Switzer Dynamics Camaro
Thus far, nitrous cars appear to have an edge, and this is one of the best of the breed. 4-1
  
MIKE JANIS
Jan-Cen Engines Camaro
Houston winner ran between 5.89 and 5.92 on three of his four elimination runs. 5-1
  
RICKIE SMITH
IDG Camaro
Was on his way to a late-round finish in Houston before being sidelined by breakage. 7-1
  
DANNY ROWE
Agave Underground Camaro
Is this the best blown car in Pro Mod? If not, it’s certainly close to the top. 9-1
  
KEVIN FISCUS
Fiscus/Lugger Mustang
Figures to be a solid bet as NHRA’s next new Pro Mod winner. 10-1
  
TROY COUGHLIN
JEGS Corvette
Capable of producing big numbers but hasn’t been able to do it consistently. 12-1
  
VON SMITH
Al-Anabi/Dr. Moon Camaro
Has been quiet thus far in 2014, but that’s apt to change at any moment. 14-1