Tricky Tipster picks Torrence, Brown as Top Fuel co-favorites; Hight, Butner, Tonglet also top Brainerd rankings

Steve Torrence and Antron Brown have been waging quite a battle on the dragstrip lately, and NHRA National Dragster's famed Tricky Tipster took notice, naming them co-favorites for this weekend's Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals. Robert Hight (Funny Car), Bo Butner (Pro Stock), and LE Tonglet (Pro Stock Motorcycle) top the rankings in their classes.
17 Aug 2017
NHRA National Dragster staff
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 Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals.

Funny Car | Pro Stock | Pro Stock Motorcycle
Steve Torrence
Steve Torrence • Capco Contractors
This week, we’re going to brand him as the co-favorite along with rival Antron Brown because they are the two best in the class right now, and they are about as equal as it gets.
ODDS: 2-1
Antron Brown
Antron Brown • Matco Tools
As noted above, he’s able to exchange punches with Torrence without flinching. No one should be surprised to see another Brown vs. Torrence final round.
ODDS: 2-1
Brittany Force
Brittany Force • Monster Energy
Feel free to call this a bit of a hunch, but she is the defending Brainerd champ, and the Monster car is certainly capable of winning at any time. Besides, she’s overdue for a bit of good luck.
ODDS: 4-1
Leah Pritchett
Leah Pritchett • Papa John’s Pizza
With two races remaining, she’s 89 points out of the top spot in the Countdown. It’s possible that she can get there, but it would almost certainly take a win in Brainerd to do so.
ODDS: 5-1
Tony Schumacher
Tony Schumacher • U.S. Army
He’s won this race three times, but the last win came in 2008. The Army car has been inconsistent this summer, but that doesn’t mean the sport’s winningest Top Fuel team isn’t capable of a dominant performance.
ODDS: 7-1
Doug Kalitta
Doug Kalitta • Mac Tools
The Kalitta watch continues. Absolutely unfathomable that this team has come this far in 2017 without a victory. All will be forgotten if they go on a late-season tear, which is entirely possible.
ODDS: 9-1
Terry McMillen
Terry McMillen • Amalie Motor Oil
At this point, there is almost no chance he gets bumped from the top 10, but another solid outing with a round-win or two would be very welcomed.
ODDS: 13-1
Clay Millican
Clay Millican • Parts Plus/Great Clips
Went to the semifinals in Seattle, which was another positive step for a team that has finally turned the corner and become a legit championship threat.
ODDS: 15-1

Robert Hight
Robert Hight • Auto Club Chevy
Two wins on the Swing and a 339-mph time slip are enough to earn Tipster’s coveted top rank. If this car continues its recent performance tear, a second championship is well within reach.
ODDS: 3-1
Ron Capps
Ron Capps • NAPA Dodge
He’s got six wins and a solid lead in the Mello Yello standings, but the Western Swing was not kind to the NAPA team. A few round-wins here would help right the ship before Indy and the Countdown.
ODDS: 4-1
Matt Hagan
Matt Hagan • Mopar Express Lane Dodge
Trailing by 158 points, he’s going to need to Herculean effort to overtake Capps for the top seed. If that’s going to happen, it’s almost mandatory that he wins here.
ODDS: 5-1
Jack Beckman
Jack Beckman • Infinite Hero Dodge
Great news is that Beckman and the Infinite Hero team will be on track for three more years. Would be even better news if they can earn a victory in Minnesota.
ODDS: 7-1
Tommy Johnson Jr.
Tommy Johnson Jr. • Make-A-Wish Dodge
Like teammate Beckman, his future has been secured for the next three years, so he can concentrate on winning races and championships. The potential is certainly there for both of those things.
ODDS: 9-1
Courtney Force
Courtney Force • Advance Auto Parts Chevy
Had a successful Western Swing with back-to-back semifinals in Sonoma and Seattle. Carrying that momentum on to Brainerd and Indy would be a huge positive move.
ODDS: 10-1
J.R. Todd
J.R. Todd • DHL Toyota
Round-one loss in Seattle was painful, but he’s almost certain to be a part of the Countdown to the Championship, which has always been the primary goal. Expect a better outing this time around.
ODDS: 12-1
Tim Wilkerson
Tim Wilkerson • Levi, Ray & Shoup Ford
Figured that Sonoma runner-up was the start of something big, but then he took an early round loss in Seattle. This will be another opportunity to gain some consistency ahead of the playoffs.
ODDS: 15-1

Bo Butner
Bo Butner • Butner Auto Camaro
He can mathematically clinch the top playoff seed with a solid outing, so that’s his goal for the weekend. Oh, and another victory would be a welcome addition, too.
ODDS: 3-1
Drew Skillman
Drew Skillman • Skillman Auto Camaro
There is a lot of parity in Pro Stock right now, and it’s hard to handicap the top spots, but after three wins, he’s clearly going to be ranked near the top of the heap.
ODDS: 4-1
Greg Anderson
Greg Anderson • Summit Camaro
Minnesota native always looks forward to a return to his home state. He’s also got three prior wins here, which doesn’t hurt morale one bit.
ODDS: 5-1
Tanner Gray
Tanner Gray • Gray Manufacturing Technology Camaro
Playing a hot hand right now with a win in Sonoma and a solid outing in Seattle. At this point in the season, the Gray Motorsports cars also seem to have an ever-so-slight-horsepower edge over the field.
ODDS: 6-1
Erica Enders
Erica Enders • Melling Camaro
When it comes to reaction times, it would be really hard to argue that this isn’t the best driver in the class. She can take a mediocre car and make it look great and take a great car and make it unbeatable.
ODDS: 8-1
Jason Line
Jason Line • Summit Camaro
Everyone knows that he’s a Minnesota native who values a Brainerd win as much as any other track on the tour. That tends to add a bit of pressure, but then again, Indy and the Countdown are all about pressure.
ODDS: 9-1
Jeg Coughlin Jr.
Jeg Coughlin Jr. • Camaro
He’s a lot like Doug Kalitta in Top Fuel: a championship-caliber driver who is battling through an unexplainable slump. The wins will come eventually.
ODDS: 11-1
Vincent Nobile
Vincent Nobile • Mountain View Camaro
Another driver who remains winless this season but should not be. Give him a break or two, and he’s more than capable of going the distance.
ODDS: 14-1

LE Tonglet
LE Tonglet • Nitro Fish Suzuki
If you’re going to stop him, you’d better do it early because he’s almost unbeatable in final rounds, and lately, he’s been in a lot of them.
ODDS: 3-1
Matt Smith
Matt Smith • Polaris Victory Magnum
This is a home event for sponsor Polaris, so a win here would be huge on many fronts. The way this bike has been running, it’s also very possible.
ODDS: 4-1
Eddie Krawiec
Eddie Krawiec • Screamin’ Eagle Harley-Davidson
The new Harley Street Rod bikes came to life in Sonoma. They aren’t perfect, but they are good enough to turn on some win lights.
ODDS: 6-1
Jerry Savoie
Jerry Savoie • White Alligator Suzuki
For some reason, he tends to do his best riding in the second half of the season. Guess what? It’s now the second half. Expect a big push for a second title.
ODDS: 7-1
Andrew Hines
Andrew Hines • Screamin’ Eagle Harley-Davidson
Ran in the 6.7s in Sonoma with the new Vance & Hines Street Rod bike. That is good enough to get the job done just about anywhere.
ODDS: 9-1
Hector Arana Jr.
Hector Arana Jr. • Lucas Oil Buell
So far, his performance has not seemed to suffer in the absence of his dad, Hector Sr., who is still recovering from shoulder surgery. The arrival of crew chief Jim Yates has helped soften that blow.
ODDS: 11-1
Scotty Pollacheck
Scotty Pollacheck • Suzuki Extended Protection
This bike is really strong, but he’s a couple of ticks behind the class leaders. If they can find another hundredth or two, he’s capable of an LE Tonglet-type performance.
ODDS: 13-1
Angie Smith
Angie Smith • Smith Racing Buell
Plenty of motivation to do well this weekend since a strong showing could help secure a berth in the Countdown to the Championship.
ODDS: 15-1