NHRA Story
National Dragster presents Tricky Tipster's Englishtown picks
Thursday, May 29, 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 Toyota NHRA Summernationals. Summernationals Logo
TOP FUEL
Funny Car I Pro Stock I Pro Stock Motorcycle I Pro Mod
Shawn Langdon SHAWN LANGDON
Al-Anabi Racing
The way the reigning champ performed in Topeka, we believe he’ll get his first win of the season sooner than later. 3-1
  
J.R. Todd J.R. TODD
Optima Batteries
Dropping an exhaust valve in the semifinals prevented him from dominating Topeka from start to finish. This team smells blood. 7-2
  
Doug Kalitta DOUG KALITTA
Mac Tools
Where are his .020 lights coming from? The points leader has been an asset to a very strong team. 4-1
  
Antron Brown ANTRON BROWN
Matco Tools
Winning at his home track growing up in Top Fuel for the first time would be a sweet end in a trying three-race swing for the 2012 world champ. 5-1
  
Spencer Massey SPENCER MASSEY
Battery Extender
Reminiscent of NFL Hall of Famer Cris Carter’s “all he does is catch touchdowns” critique, all he does is win races. The 2011 winner is going for three in a row. 6-1
  
Steve Torrence STEVE TORRENCE
Capco Contractors
He has the best car he’s had since he won this race in 2012. He’s in the midst of quite a battle within the top five in points. 7-1
  
Brittany Force BRITTANY FORCE
Castrol Edge
The second-year driver’s No. 1 qualifying effort in Topeka symbolically put Funny Car juggernaut John Force Racing in the dragster business. 8-1
  
Tony Schumacher TONY SCHUMACHER
U.S. Army
His Las Vegas victory kicked off a string of five Top Fuel wins in a row for Don Schumacher Racing. 10-1
 

FUNNY CAR
Robert Hight ROBERT HIGHT
Auto Club Ford
He may have lost in the first round in Topeka, but his car ran low e.t. of the race day in the process, showing this is still the team to beat in the class. 2-1
  
Courtney Force COURTNEY FORCE
Traxxas Ford
Riding high after historic Topeka victory. Add in the runner-up finish the weekend before, and this team is beginning to hit its stride. If they can up the performance just a little, they could easily unseat their teammate atop the rankings. 4-1
  
Ron Capps RON CAPPS
NAPA Dodge
Steadily going to the semi’s with five trips there in the last six events, but no one comes to the track hoping for a semifinal finish. We’re sure this team is more than ready to break that streak and go a step or two further. 5-1
  
Tommy Johnson Jr. TOMMY JOHNSON JR.
Make-A-Wish
Dodge
TJ has said he feels his team is very close to breaking out and winning, and based on the fact that he has had a solid car all year, we’re inclined to believe him. 6-1
  
Alexis DeJoria ALEXIS DEJORIA
Patron XO Café
Toyota
Three of her four runs in Topeka were 4.0s. Perhaps the erratic car has been replaced by the steady, strong-running one that carried her to two wins earlier this year. 8-1
  
Jack Beckman JACK BECKMAN
Valvoline/DSR
Dodge
Had the best overall qualifying effort for a non-John Force Racing entry, leading us to wonder what might have happened if his throttle cable hadn’t broken in the first round. 9-1
  
Cruz Pedregon CRUZ PEDREGON
Snap-on Toyota
Found the race-day consistency that had been very much lacking, rattling off 4.09s like nobody’s business. But can he maintain it? If so, the Topeka final should be the first of many late finishes for the two-time world champ. 11-1
  
Matt Hagan MATT HAGAN
Mopar/Rocky
Boots Dodge
Again a toss-up — this time between Hagan, Del Worsham, and Tim Wilkerson — the final spot goes to last year’s event winner. His team still appears to be working through issues, but they are making more good runs than not and are qualifying well. 12-1
 

PRO STOCK
Erica Enders-Stevens ERICA ENDERS-STEVENS
Elite Motorsports
Chevy
Back-to-back race weekends ending on a holeshot don’t scare Tipster one bit. EE’s red Camaro is the baddest doorslammer on planet Earth at the moment, which makes her a better bet than most for the final. 2-1
  
Jeg Coughlin Jr. JEG COUGHLIN JR.
JEGS.com/Mopar
Dodge
We’re not quite ready to declare ‘The Champ is back!’ — but, it’s close. Backing up his Atlanta win with a runner-up finish in Topeka was certainly impressive. Still waiting for the yellow Dart to post a few jaw-dropping elapsed times. 3-1
  
Dave Connolly DAVE CONNOLLY
Charter Communications
Chevy
Enough is enough DC — you’re making Tipster look bad. Everybody knows you can drive anything with a steering wheel. Your team at Gray Motorsports can clearly make power (per your testing and qualifying slips). Now put it all together and flash that smile in the winner’s circle. 5-1
  
Allen Johnson ALLEN JOHNSON
Team Mopar/
J&J Dodge
Tipster would like to take partial credit for the Topeka win, as we understand the ‘how the mighty have fallen’ comment may have lit a fire under AJ. And unlike Rodger Brogdon, we don’t welch on our bets. Point us toward the merch booth, and we’ll spring for an Allen Johnson T-shirt, as promised. 6-1
  
Vincent Nobile VINCENT NOBILE
Mountain View
Tire Chevy
What better way to win his first race of the season than to do it in front of tons of friends and family? If Topeka was any indication — and to borrow a phrase from John Nobile — they just need to ‘tickle’ it a little bit, and they’ll be among the top-three cars in the class. 7-1
  
Shane Gray SHANE GRAY
FireAde 2000
Chevy
Last week, we said we’d have to leave Gray in the middle of the pack until the car showed more consistency. Ditto for his reaction times, which require improvement. If he wants to pick up late-round wins against top drivers, those .060 lights won’t cut it. Qualified second here last year, that’s a positive. 9-1
  
Jason Line JASON LINE
Summit Racing
Chevy
It’s not quite feast-or-famine for the blue KB Racing Camaro — it only feels that way. This car is as capable as any in the class of stealing the pole in Englishtown. What happens on race day is the real question/mystery. 10-1
  
Greg Anderson GREG ANDERSON
Summit Racing
Chevy
Things we can put behind us: Greg Anderson’s heart surgery, the 100th NHRA win by a female racer, and J.R. Todd’s return to action. Still on the to-do list from last year: find a way to get Anderson back in the winner’s circle. His last Wally reads, ‘Englishtown 2012.’ 12-1
 

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE
Eddie Krawiec EDDIE KRAWIEC
Screamin’ Eagle
Harley-Davidson
Loves to race in Englishtown, a track he used to manage. After Atlanta win, he’s also got the best bike in the class, which should give him a big edge on the rest of the field. 3-1
  
Andrew Hines ANDREW HINES
Screamin’ Eagle
Harley-Davidson
Proved lately that his Harley V-Rod is every bit as quick as teammate Krawiec’s. He’s also riding with a renewed sense of confidence, which makes this pick a near toss-up. 7-2
  
Michael Ray MICHAEL RAY
Star Racing Buell
After three races, a pattern has emerged of great qualifying performances but only moderate success on race day, although a semifinal finish in Atlanta was likely a big step forward for the new-look Star Buell. 5-1
  
Matt Smith MATT SMITH
Nitro Fish Buell
No one should doubt that this bike is capable of dominating the field, but so far this year, it’s been one bad break after another. Once that gets corrected, the win lights will come in bunches. 6-1
  
John Hall JOHN HALL
B.R.A.K.E.S. Buell
All things considered, this might be the most consistent rider in the field right now. He doesn’t make many mistakes and is usually good for a semifinal finish or better. Consistent top-half qualifier as well. 8-1
  
Hector Arana Jr. HECTOR ARANA JR.
Lucas Oil Buell
The Arana family is slowly but surely righting the ship after a slow start to the 2014 season, and Hector Jr. is leading the charge with several solid performances. 10-1
  
Scotty Pollacheck SCOTTY POLLACHECK
Quality Tire Buell
After numerous semifinal and runner-up finishes, he’s almost reached the point of being overdue for a win. He just needs a small break or two in order to make that happen. 12-1
  
Jimmy Underdahl JIMMY UNDERDAHL
Bad Boy Buggies
Suzuki
In Atlanta, he didn’t just have the best Suzuki, he had one of the four-best bikes in the entire field, which means that he should be capable of reaching the final round. A bit more consistency would make that happen. 14-1
 

PRO MOD
RICKIE SMITH
IDG Camaro
He claims the recent 50-pound weight adjustment will slow his car by four-hundredths. That makes a 5.77 car into a 5.81 car, and that is still more than enough to get the job done. He remains the favorite. 3-1
  
MIKE CASTELLANA
Al-Anabi Camaro
New York native figures to rate a slight edge against the rest of the field while racing at his home track. Also expect him to overcome the extra 50 pounds added to nitrous cars. 4-1
  
DANNY ROWE
Agave Underground
Camaro
The good news is that he has reached the semi’s of the first three races this season. The bad news? He’s still looking for his first final round, but we’re banking that it’s going to happen sooner rather than later. 5-1
  
MIKE JANIS
Jan-Cen Engines
Camaro
Another New Yorker who covets a Wally trophy from Old Bridge Township Raceway Park. Also needs to keep pace with the leaders to remain in championship contention. 6-1
  
KEVIN FISCUS
Fiscus & Klugger
Mustang
Slow-motion video of this car from Atlanta reminds us of why we love Pro Mod so much. He’s also poised to become NHRA Pro Mod’s next first-time winner. 8-1
  
VON SMITH
Al-Anabi/Dr. Moon
Camaro
Almost any Pro Mod team can make a killer run from time to time, but very few have a handle on the consistency necessary for success on race day. This is one of them. 10-1
  
TROY COUGHLIN
JEGS.com Corvette
Currently sits eighth in the points standings, 134 behind the leader. That’s not an insurmountable task, but it means that the former champ needs to get his 2014 season on track fairly quickly. 12-1
  
STEVE MATUSEK
Agave Underground Camaro
Based on the early returns, his decision to join Danny Rowe’s team has yielded strong returns. He is currently ranked fifth and has won at least one round in each of the first three events. 14-1