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Tricky Tipster picks points leaders as Las Vegas favorites

26 Oct 2017
NHRA National Dragster staff
News
Tricky Tipster

For more than five decades, NHRA National Dragster's famed Tricky Tipster has tested his prognosticating skills prior to each national event, putting odds on the top eight racers he thinks have the best shot at victory in Tricky Tipster. This week, Tricky Tipster handicaps the NHRA Toyota Nationals.

TOP FUEL
Funny Car | Pro Stock | Pro Stock Motorcycle | Pro Mod
Steve Torrence
Steve Torrence • Capco Contractors
An accident like the one he had in Dallas would have put some teams out of business. He was back on track in less than an hour. Just one more test for a team that has passed many.
ODDS: 3-1
Brittany Force
Brittany Force • Monster Energy
Her win in Dallas was a statement. She’s for real, and she’s got an honest-to-goodness chance to join her father as an NHRA Mello Yello world champion. She’s also on top of her driving game lately.
ODDS: 4-1
Antron Brown
Antron Brown • Matco Tools
At this point, a fourth championship seems unlikely but stranger things have happened. Regardless, this is a world-class team that can win any event on the tour, so why not this one?
ODDS: 5-1
Doug Kalitta
Doug Kalitta • Mac Tools
This is make or break for Team Kalitta. A win here and he’s right back in the points battle headed to Pomona. Desperately needs to pick up a round or two against Torrence and Force.
ODDS: 6-1
Leah Pritchett
Leah Pritchett • Papa John’s Pizza
For some reason, the early-season magic this team had has largely evaporated. That being said, we all know what they’re capable of doing, which is a win at any time and any place.
ODDS: 8-1
Clay Millican
Clay Millican • Parts Plus/Great Clips
As a general rule, the fall Las Vegas race is quick, which means crew chief David Grubnic can keep the 3.6s tune-up handy. There is a second win in this team, and it’s likely going to happen sooner rather than later.
ODDS: 10-1
Shawn Langdon
Shawn Langdon • Global Electronic Technology
Plans to make his first runs in a Funny Car on Monday after this race. In the meantime, another Top Fuel victory wouldn’t hurt. The Global Electronic team has come a long way since March when they were formed. Just starting to peak now.
ODDS: 12-1
Tony Schumacher
Tony Schumacher • U.S. Army
First-round loss in Dallas was embarrassing and painful, and three rounds-wins in the Countdown is clearly not what the Army team had in mind. They could really use a win in one of the last two races.
ODDS: 14-1

FUNNY CAR
Ron Capps
Ron Capps • NAPA Dodge
It’s an absolutely coin toss between Capps and Robert Hight, but we’ll give Capps the nod largely because of his strong 5-2 record in final rounds in Las Vegas. He’s the leader with two races left but cannot afford a slip-up of any kind.
ODDS: 5-2
Robert Hight
Robert Hight • Auto Club Chevy
The Strip in Vegas is a great place for high horsepower cars, and this one seems to be the strongest of the bunch. He’s got to make up 24 points on Capps between now and Pomona. A win here would take care of all or most of that.
ODDS: 3-1
Jack Beckman
Jack Beckman • Infinite Hero Dodge
A few small issues here and there prevented this team from making a run at the title. That being said, they’re more than capable of pulling off a win here.
ODDS: 5-1
Courtney Force
Courtney Force • Advance Auto Parts Chevy
We’ve said this before but it bears repeating; incredible to think this team is winless in 2017. They are way too good for that to continue.
ODDS: 6-1
John Force
John Force • Peak Chevy
Want to guess who the defending event champion is in Funny Car? That’s right. This guy. He’s got six career wins in Las Vegas, and we don’t think anyone would be the least bit surprised if he makes it seven.
ODDS: 7-1
Jonnie Lindberg
Jonnie Lindberg • Head Contractors Toyota
Amazing stat of the year, he’s been to three finals this season and had lane choice in all of them. Now that this car runs over 330 mph, it’s more than capable of playing hardball with the big teams.
ODDS: 9-1
Matt Hagan
Matt Hagan • Mopar Express Lane Dodge
Everyone goes to Las Vegas hoping for a little good fortune. This team, perhaps more than any other, could really use it. The Countdown has not been kind to them, but there is time for a rebound.
ODDS: 11-1
Alexis DeJoria
Alexis DeJoria • Tequila Patron Toyota
Pretty sure she doesn’t want to be labeled as a “sentimental favorite” even though many are rooting for one last victory. A more apt description of the Patron team might be “highly motivated.”
ODDS: 13-1

PRO STOCK
Greg Anderson
Greg Anderson • Summit Camaro
At this point, it’s almost a certainty that the KB team wins the title. The question is which driver? At this point, he seems like the most likely candidate but just barely.
ODDS: 3-1
Bo Butner
Bo Butner • Butner Auto Camaro
He deals with pressure incredibly well, but it’s very possible he’s going to have to get up on the wheel and steal a round or two in order to take the title from his KB teammates.
ODDS: 7-2
Jason Line
Jason Line • Summit Camaro
Where did this guy come from? He struggled all year and then wins in Dallas, and he’s 30 points back. He’s very much in the running for a fourth Mello Yello championship.
ODDS: 4-1
Tanner Gray
Tanner Gray • Gray Manufacturing Technologies Camaro
He wears his heart on his sleeve and often can’t hide his emotions. Good for him. It would be far more troubling if he didn’t care about the championship. That said, he’s in a win-or-else situation here.
ODDS: 6-1
Drew Skillman
Drew Skillman • Skillman Auto Camaro
Hard to figure this one sometimes. He’s a great driver with a great car, but sometimes even that isn’t enough. Still, there is time for a big late-season rally. He can certainly make life rough for the points leaders.
ODDS: 8-1
Erica Enders
Erica Enders • Melling/Elite Camaro
The Strip at Las Vegas was, and most likely still is, one of her favorite tracks. If there is ever a time to bust out of a slump, this would be it.
ODDS: 10-1
Allen Johnson
Allen Johnson • Marathon Petroleum Dart
The Hemi cars seem to run best at altitude tracks like Las Vegas, so he’s got that going for him. Obviously, he’d also like to get one more win before putting a wrap on his Pro Stock career.
ODDS: 12-1
Chris McGaha
Chris McGaha • Harlow Sammons Camaro
Another team that prefers the thin air in Las Vegas. Apparently, the conditions are similar to what he encounters in his hometown of Odessa, Texas.
ODDS: 14-1

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE
Eddie Krawiec
Eddie Krawiec • Screamin’ Eagle Harley-Davidson
Right now, he’s a runaway freight train who shows no signs of slowing down. Pomona bonus points or not, he might just clinch a fourth title this weekend.
ODDS: Even
Andrew Hines
Andrew Hines • Screamin’ Eagle Harley-Davidson
With five wins in seven finals, this is easily one of his strongest tracks. In fact, it might be his best track. Either way, he needs a big effort to stop his teammate.
ODDS: 3-1
LE Tonglet
LE Tonglet • Nitro Fish Suzuki
Can he make up 107 points in two events? Yes, it’s possible, but that’s a daunting task. A better strategy might be to just try to win the final two races and do the math later.
ODDS: 5-1
Jerry Savoie
Jerry Savoie • White Alligator Suzuki
Any chance he lays back in qualifying so he can catch one of the Harleys in the early rounds? Probably not, but that would certainly be an interesting strategy.
ODDS: 6-1
Matt Smith
Matt Smith • Polaris Victory Magnum
The championship is out of reach, but he could easily get to third place with a win here. He’s also capable of throwing a monkey wrench into the points battle between the Harleys and Tonglet.
ODDS: 8-1
Scotty Pollacheck
Scotty Pollacheck • Suzuki Extended Protection Suzuki
So what’s the deal with mega-team owner Don Schumacher guiding him up to the starting line? If this season is indeed an audition, he’s making a solid impression. A strong showing here would also be beneficial.
ODDS: 10-1
Hector Arana Jr.
Hector Arana Jr. • Lucas Oil Buell
Tipster has a strange feeling that he’s going to win this race. Why the heck not. His bike is fast, and if there is a rider/team that is overdue for a healthy dose of Las Vegas luck, it’s this squad.
ODDS: 13-1
Angie Smith
Angie Smith • Denso Buell
Has anyone else noticed that this bike makes some really good runs? Putting together four of them is still an issue, but she can beat anyone in the field at any given time.
ODDS: 15-1

PRO MOD
Mike Castellana
Mike Castellana • AAP Camaro
He’s got to make up 26 points on leader Troy Coughlin, which means basically two rounds. Hard to imagine that he can win the championship without winning the race.
ODDS: 4-1
Troy Coughlin
Troy Coughlin • JEGS.com Corvette
With so many great cars in Pro Mod, it is hard for anyone to dominate, but he’s come close in the second half of the season. Not much reason to think he can’t win the championship and the event.
ODDS: 5-1
Rickie Smith
Rickie Smith • Vallen Camaro
Forget all the nonsense about nitrous cars at altitude tracks. This is Rickie Smith, and he tends to find a way to win just about anywhere. He’ll be in the mix for sure.
ODDS: 6-1
Shane Molinari
Shane Molinari • S&T Truck Repair
Playing a bit of a hunch here, but this is a really solid team that already has a win this season. You can’t call this a home race, but it’s the closest they get to their Oregon base.
ODDS: 7-1
Jonathan Gray
Jonathan Gray • Vallen Camaro
He’s not on here because his car is quick, even though it is. He’s on here because when he’s on his game, his lights are stellar, and he’ll steal a round or four.
ODDS: 8-1
Stevie Jackson
Stevie Jackson • Bahrain1 Camaro
He’s been quiet lately. Wait. Did we just say that? Stevie Jackson should never be quiet. Time to stir the pot, Mr. Fast.
ODDS: 10-1
Steven Whiteley
Steven Whiteley • J&A Service Cadillac
Qualifying for these big Pro Mod fields is half the battle, and he’s got that down to a science. He’s also pretty good at sticking around for a bit on race day.
ODDS: 12-1
Danny Rowe
Danny Rowe • Agave Underground Corvette
While the two leaders up front battle for the championship, he’s going to be fighting with Rickie Smith for a spot in the top 10. That will be fun to watch.
ODDS: 14-1