NHRA Story
National Dragster presents Tricky Tipster's Pomona picks
Thursday, February 06, 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 Circle K NHRA Winternationals. Winternationals Logo

TOP FUEL
Funny Car I Pro Stock I Pro Stock Motorcycle I Top Alcohol Dragster I Top Alcohol Funny Car
Shawn Langdon SHAWN LANGDON
Al-Anabi Racing
The last two times he entered races at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, his luggage was heavier on the way home. 2-1
  
Antron Brown ANTRON BROWN
Matco Tools
The 2012 Mello Yello world champ ended the 2013 season strong and looked good in testing. 3-1
  
Tony Schumacher TONY SCHUMACHER
U.S. Army
The seven-time champion was strong in the first half of 2013 and fell off in the latter part of the season. It will be interesting to see where he’s at after an off-season to regroup. We’re bullish. 5-1
  
Doug Kalitta DOUG KALITTA
Mac Tools
No testing? No problem. The 2009 winner was in top form at the end of the season. 6-1
  
Spencer Massey SPENCER MASSEY
Battery Extender
Continuity is a welcome occurrence when your team wins at least four races and finishes in the top five every year. 7-1
  
Khalid alBalooshi KHALID alBALOOSHI
Al-Anabi Racing
There have been nine different winners at the last nine incarnations of this event. The beast from the Middle East is our best bet to extend that streak to a decade. 8-1
  
Richie Crampton RICHIE CRAMPTON
GEICO/Lucas Oil
It has been 13 years since a driver won this event in a Pro debut. The Aussie will try to join K.C. Spurlock, Gary Scelzi, and the late Darrell Russell in that exclusive club. 9-1
  
B Force BRITTANY FORCE
Castrol Edge
She carried some momentum into the off-season with a semifinal finish and added tuner Todd Smith to her second-year team. 11-1
 

FUNNY CAR
John Force JOHN FORCE
Castrol GTX
Ford
He’s the reigning world champion and had the car to beat at the end of last year, and his racing organization has won six of the last 10 season openers, including the most recent four. Seems like a no-brainer to put him No. 1. 2-1
  
Courtney Force COURTNEY FORCE
Traxxas
Ford
When the dust settled here last year, she was the one hoisting the Wally in the winner’s circle. Add in strong performances at the end of last year, and we like her chances of repeating. 7-2
  
Ron Capps RON CAPPS
NAPA
Dodge
This may seem like a high ranking, but there is something about the Winternationals that really agrees with Capps. He’s the last non-JFR driver to win the opener, scoring in 2009, and he’s been in the semi’s or final every year since that victory. 6-1
  
Matt Hagan MATT HAGAN
Mopar/Rocky
Boots Dodge
Ended 2013 season on high note. Would love nothing more than to get his 2014 campaign started the same way, and he certainly has a team capable of doing it. 7-1
  
Robert Hight ROBERT HIGHT
Auto Club
Ford
Hight seems to excel on his home track, and that is especially true at the Winternationals. Three of his four Auto Club Raceway at Pomona victories have come in February. 8-1
  
Cruz Pedregon CRUZ PEDREGON
Snap-on Tools
Toyota
Cool, cloudy conditions are expected this weekend, and we believe that plays right into his hands because he has proven time and again he can fly in good conditions. 10-1
  
Jack Beckman JACK BECKMAN
Valvoline
Dodge
Major off-season changes put a big question mark next to his name, but he’s been here before and adapted just fine, so we won’t be surprised if he’s still around late Sunday. 12-1
  
G Densham GARY DENSHAM
Densham Motorsports Dodge
In his last three appearances at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, Densham has racked up five round-wins and set personal bests in e.t. and speed, which is a better record than some of the big, full-time teams. 18-1
 

PRO STOCK
Jeg Coughlin Jr. JEG COUGHLIN JR.
JEGS.com/
Mopar Dodge
Two straight Winternationals finals, and the champ claimed two wins during the 2013 Countdown. 2-1
  
Allen Johnson ALLEN JOHNSON
Team Mopar/
J&J Dodge
Went to final round at two of the last three Pomona events and made two finals during 2013 Countdown. 3-1
  
Shane Gray SHANE GRAY
Charter Communications/
Gray Motorsports Chevy
Had one win and a runner-up during 2013 Countdown, plus he had one of the quickest cars in 2014 testing. 4-1
  
Erica Enders-Stevens ERICA ENDERS-STEVENS
Elite Motorsports
Chevy
Now behind the wheel of the last car to claim a Wally in Pomona. 5-1
  
Jason Line JASON LINE
Summit Racing
Chevy
2011 Winternationals winner had one win and a runner-up during 2013 Countdown. 7-1
  
Vincent Nobile VINCENT NOBILE
Mountain View
Tire Chevy
2013 Winternationals winner will be looking to repeat, now in a Chevy instead of his old Dodge. 8-1
  
Dave Connolly DAVE CONNOLLY
Gray Motorsports
Chevy
Returning to the most competitive Pro class, but landing with championship-caliber team makes him an instant contender. 10-1
  
Chris McGaha CHRIS McGAHA
Harlow Sammons/
Southwest Performance & Machine Chevy
Major step up for Harlow Sammons team with purchase of Mike Edwards' car/engine and Jim Yates tuning. 16-1
  
 

TOP ALCOHOL DRAGSTER
CHRIS DEMKE
PEEN-RITE/OSI/BOOST PERFORMANCE
He’s been in four of the last five final rounds at this event and won twice. 2-1
  
MARK TALIAFERRO
MARKCO MACHINE WORKS
History has proven that hiring Norm Grimes to tune your blown alcohol car results in more frequent appointments in the winner’s circle. 3-1
  
JOEY SEVERANCE
SEVERANCE RACING
One of the class’ best pure drivers and power from YNot Racing will be a tough combination. 4-1
  
JOHNNY AHTEN
ISLAND RENOVATIONS
The Southern California firefighter showed us when he wasn’t listed on Tipster and won the Auto Club NHRA Finals. 6-1
  
GARRETT BATEMAN
HIPLINK SOLUTIONS
He made one of the quickest runs by an A/Fueler all season here in November. It will be interesting to see what Rick Henkelman can do with another percent of nitro in the tank. 7-1
  
SHAWN COWIE
MUNDIE’S TOWING
After an inspiring comeback that started at midseason, he’s ready for a full-scale assault in 2014. 8-1
  
DON ST. ARNAUD
A&J CONSTRUCTION
The Canadian A/Fuel driver reached the final round in 2011 and has one of the most underrated crew chiefs (Javid Marusich) in his corner. 9-1
  
DUANE SHIELDS
PEAK MOTOR OIL
He struggled last season, but don’t put it past the 2011 world champ and three-time winner of this event to bounce back. 10-1
 

TOP ALCOHOL FUNNY CAR
JOHN LOMBARDO JR.
NAPA AUTO PARTS/
LUCAS OIL FORD
One of many top drivers who made big changes this off-season, he’ll be defending his event title while teamed with Rick Jackson Racing. Between the two, they have won this event in three of the last five years. 5-2
  
STEVE GASPARRELLI
PDC/GASPARRELLI
RACING CHEVY
The three-time Auto Club NHRA Finals winner has never won the season opener, but new crew chief Jeff Lirones has with two drivers. 3-1
  
SHANE WESTERFIELD
CP-CARRILLO CHEVY
He’s calling his own shots now after a breakthrough 2013 season. Qualified No. 1 for the first time at this event last year. 4-1
  
JAY PAYNE
PEAK MOTOR OIL/
FIREICE FORD
Emotions will be high for the veteran driver as he tries to win one in the memory of friend and sponsor Michael Cordani. 5-1
  
CLINT THOMPSON
THOMPSON RACING CHEVY
The last driver to face Frank Manzo in competition hopes to do just one better than his runner-up performance here at the end of the season. 6-1
  
BRIAN HOUGH
OLYMPUS TRAILERS CHEVY
The two-time finalist at this event ran well at both Pomona events last year, just needs to put it all together. 7-1
  
TERRY RUCKMAN
CASH CARTEL
CLOTHING CHEVY
He watched his car run big numbers while Cody Perkins subbed for him behind the wheel in November. The addition of tuner Bob DeVour to the team is a plus. 8-1
  
SEAN BELLEMEUR
MASTERCAM CHEVY
Father Gregg has this car running better than ever before. His first win could be around the corner. 10-1