NHRA Story
Sunday's Winternationals photo blog
Sunday, February 09, 2014

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Circle K NHRA Winternationals
Last update: 5:15 p.m.
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Championship Sunday at the Circle K NHRA Winternationals kicked off with a Track Walk with the reigning NHRA Mello Series world champions, including John Force (below), Shawn Langdon, and Jeg Coughlin Jr.

Three lucky NHRA Members were chosen for the National Dragster Backstage Pass tour, where they got to mingle with the drivers backstage during the pre-race ceremony. From left, Jeanette and Russell Robbins, Jeff Clousen and Dan Rowland, and Tom Muldoon and John Buckley assembled for their great fan experience.

NHRA Members can get the chance to win a similar experience at future NHRA Mello Yello events by sending an email to

NHRA President Tom Compton, far left, and Mello Yello's Al Rondon, far right, presented last year's Mello Yello world champions with their championship rings and jackets.

Charlotte and Forrest Lucas, far left, and Compton congratulated a trio of last year's Lucas Oil national champions, from third from left, Rick Beckstrom (Super Gas), Justin Lamb (Stock), and Alan Ellis (Comp).

[11 a.m.] The fourth pairing of the first round of Top Fuel provided a jolt of excitement as engine damage on Sidnei Frigo's car led to a blown rear tire. The second-year Brazilian driver did a masterful job of getting the parachutes out and keeping the car under control and stopped without further incident.

Almost unnoticed was low qualifier Doug Kalitta winning in the other lane with a sizzling 3.729 at a track record speed of 329.42 mph.

[11:45 a.m.] Rookie Richie Crampton scored his first round-win when he defeated reigning rookie of the year Brittany Force with a strong 3.747, a run that would have earned him second-round lane choice against any other winner except the one he draws, Doug Kalitta. Other second-round pairings (lane choice first): Spencer Massey vs. David Grubnic; Khalid alBalooshi vs. Shawn Langdon; Steve Torrence vs. Clay Millican.

[11:50 a.m.] (Above) Crew chief Mike Neff made some final adjustments to the Auto Club Mustang just before driver Robert Hight steamed to a 3.986, the fifth-quickest run in Funny Car history, to defeat Tim Wilkerson. Local favorite Gary Densham (below) remained undefeated in round one in Pomona for the fifth straight race after upsetting No. 3 qualifier Alexis DeJoria. Second-round pairings (lane choice first): John Force vs. Tommy Johnson Jr.; Ron Capps vs. Bob Tasca III; Hight vs. Matt Hagan; Del Worsham vs. Densham.

[12:50 p.m.] Dave Connolly (above) scored his first round-win of the season in Pro Stock with a solid 6.527, the second-quickest run of the round. Larry Morgan (below) upset 2012 world champ Allen Johnson on a holeshot. Second-round pairings (lane choice first): Vincent Nobile vs. Jeg Coughlin Jr.; V. Gaines vs. Erica Enders-Stevens; Shane Gray vs. Morgan; Connolly vs. Jason Line.

NHRA Members and site subscribers can get in-depth coverage of the Circle K NHRA Winternationals on NationalDragster.net.

The National Dragster staff is providing instant analysis, pit notes, feature items, and more to give detailed coverage of the 2014 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season opener.

Check it out here.

NHRA Members can get instant access by registering, or new visitors can get behind-the-scenes coverage plus daily features, news items, and more for a small monthly fee.

Dave Rieff and Mike Dunn are again anchoring ESPN2's coverage of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.

[1:45 p.m.] Khalid alBalooshi (above) pulled off an upset of his teammate, defending event and season champ Shawn Langdon, driving by the champ's holeshot leave to win by .007-second, 3.739 to 3.768. Steve Torrence ran his second straight 3.7-second pass to advance the Capco Contractors Top Fueler to the semifinals, but he'll cede lane choice to alBalooshi. The other semifinal will pit Doug Kalitta with lane choice against Spencer Massey.

 [1:50 p.m.] Matt Hagan (above) reset the national speed record in Funny Car in round two, where his 4.036, 322.04-mph pass not only beat Robert Hight's 4.036 by .005-second on a holeshot, but also backed up his first-round 322.73, which became the new national speed mark.

Hagan's record didn't last but a few minutes as John Force (right) then defeated Tommy Johnson Jr., 4.020 to 4.021 at a speed of 321.37 mph, which backed up Force's qualifying speed of 324.14, which became the new record.

Hagan has semifinal lane choice over Del Worsham, and Force will pick his lane against Bob Tasca III, who advanced to the final four after Ron Capps got loose and slapped the guardwall downtrack.

[2:15 p.m.] Shane Gray (above) advanced the Charter Communications/Gray Motorsports Camaro to the Pro Stock final four with a 6.533 that earned him lane choice over Jason Line, who moved on with a 6.536. V. Gaines (below) earned semifinal lane choice over low qualifier Vincent Nobile thanks to a best-of-round 6.527.

[3:10 p.m.] Top Fuel racing in the semifinals produced two wins by a total of just .004-second. Doug Kalitta (above), who won the Winternationals in 2009, beat Spencer Massey by .003-second with a 3.758, and Khalid alBalooshi (below) won by an even slimmer margin, .001-second, against Steve Torrence.

 [3:20 p.m.] The Funny Car final will be a rematch of the 2013 season finale here in November: John Force (above) will take on Matt Hagan (right).

Force defeated Bob Tasca III and earned final-round lane choice with a 4.025 at 322.27 mph, the fifth-fastest speed in Funny Car history.

Hagan defeated Del Worsham to reach the final round, running a 4.030.

[3:20 p.m.] Jason Line has done sidelined teammate Greg Anderson proud by reaching the Pro Stock final with his Summit Camaro, earning lane choice with a 6.527 over Shane Gray. His opponent in the final will be Dodge campaigner V. Gaines (below), who ran 6.543 in upsetting low qualifier Vincent Nobile's 6.541 on a holeshot.

Jason Line, near lane, saved his best for last, posting a 6.526-second e.t., en route to dispatching V. Gaines for the first Pro Stock Wally of the 2014 season.

John Force, far lane, blasted to a 3.965, which reset the national e.t. record and ranked as the second-quickest run of all time, to defeat a tire-smoking Matt Hagan in the Funny Car final.

Khalid alBalooshi, far lane, scored his third win and made it three in a row for Al-Anabi Racing in Pomona. He slowed to a 3.97, 324, but it was enough to upset No. 1 qualifier Doug Kalitta, who ran a tire-smoking 5.36.

Event champions, from left, Jason Line, John Force, and Khalid alBalooshi

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