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Tricky Tipster's NHRA Arizona Nationals picks

NHRA National Dragster's famed Tricky Tipster handicaps the NHRA Arizona Nationals, race two of the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season.
21 Feb 2018
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 Arizona Nationals, race two of the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season.

TOP FUEL
Funny Car | Pro Stock
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Tony Schumacher • US Army
He’s got five wins in six final rounds here making it one of his better tracks. He also looked great in Pomona. Easy to imagine new crew chief Mike Neff putting a W on the board early.
ODDS: 3-1
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Doug Kalitta • Mac Tools
Last year, he didn’t get his first (and only) win until the second Charlotte event. Thanks to an impressive Pomona victory, he won’t have that albatross to deal with this season. The Mac Tools car also ran well enough to make back-to-back wins a reality.
ODDS: 4-1
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Leah Pritchett • Mopar/Pennzoil/Papa John’s
Undefeated in the last eight rounds at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park. Winning three in a row is a rare feat but it wouldn’t be shocking for this group.
ODDS: 6-1
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Antron Brown • Matco Tools/U.S. Army
Won here in 2009, 2012, and 2014 and he’s coming off a solid semifinal finish in Pomona to open the season. So far, it’s business as usual in the Matco camp.
ODDS: 7-1
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Steve Torrence • Capco Contractors
Most drivers don’t react well to red-lights so he’ll no doubt be eager to get back in the fray after untimely Pomona foul. He did set top speed at 333-mph which should inspire the Capco team.
ODDS: 9-1
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Clay Millican • Parts Plus/Great Clips
Yes, he could easily win this race but based on the weather forecast, the real drama might just involve the quest to produce the sport’s first 3.5-second time slip. If it happens, this is the odds-on favorite to do it.
ODDS: 10-1
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Brittany Force • Monster Energy
No idea how she’ll rebound from devastating Pomona crash but it’s important to note that this is still the reigning Mello Yello champ and she did run 3.675 during qualifying.
ODDS: 12-1
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Terry McMillen • Amalie Oil
This car is now reached the point where it runs 3.7s almost at will and he certainly deserved better than a round one loss in Pomona. Expect a quick rebound.
ODDS: 14-1
 
FUNNY CAR
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Matt Hagan • Mopar Express Lane Dodge
Last year, he began the season with back-to-back victories and he’s halfway to a repeat. There is much parity in the Funny Car class but for now, he’s a tick ahead of the competition.
ODDS: 5-2
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Robert Hight • Auto Club Chevy
His runner-up finish in Pomona helped salvage what was otherwise a rough weekend for the Force team. He’s been to four finals here and captured the Wally in 2012.
ODDS: 4-1
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Jack Beckman • Infinite Hero Dodge
The 2012 champ began the season with a solid qualifying effort and a semifinal finish in Pomona. Give the level of competition, that’s a solid start and something to build upon.
ODDS: 5-1
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Ron Capps • NAPA Dodge
No surprise that a driver with 58 national event wins has claimed three of them in Phoenix. This should be a good opportunity for crew chief Rahn Tobler to bust out his most aggressive tune-up.
ODDS: 6-1
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J.R. Todd • DHL Toyota
Now that he’s got a full year of Funny Car racing under his belt, one gets the feeling that the DHL team is going to break out for a handful of wins this year. Fairly certain he’d like another shot at Robert Hight after tough quarterfinal loss in Pomona.
ODDS: 8-1
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Courtney Force • Advance Auto Parts Chevy
To suggest that Pomona was a tough race for the entire Force team would be a huge understatement. A strong showing here would do a lot to put the rough start squarely in the rearview mirror.
ODDS: 10-1
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Tommy Johnson Jr. • Make-A-Wish Dodge
The 2006 Phoenix winner will be looking to shake off a slow start after dropping a tire-smoking battle against Cruz Pedregon in Pomona. Honestly, he should be just as competitive as his DSR teammates.
ODDS: 12-1
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Tim Wilkerson • Levi, Ray & Shoup Ford
Rated a slight edge over Cruz Pedregon, Jonnie Lindberg, Bob Tasca III and the rest of the field thanks to his strong 3.88 qualifying effort in Pomona. Man, this class is competitive.
ODDS: 14-1
 
PRO STOCK
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Bo Butner • Butner Auto Camaro
Even more so than his championship, the Pomona win two weeks ago was a solid indicator of how far he’s come as a driver in the last 12-months. Very impressive.
ODDS: 3-1
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Greg Anderson • Summit Racing Camaro
While Wild Horse Pass isn’t exactly his best track, he does have two wins here and is the defending event champ which should count for something. He also made some pretty solid runs in Pomona.
ODDS: 4-1
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Erica Enders • Melling/Elite Camaro
Maybe, just maybe the Elite team has finally regained the forum they last showed at the end of 2015, as they were celebrating their second Mello Yello championship.
ODDS: 5-1
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Jason Line • Summit Camaro
He had a couple of lucky breaks on his way to the final in Pomona, but overall he did a nice job behind the wheel and under the hood. He’s also got a pair of Phoenix wins to his credit.
ODDS: 7-1
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Vincent Nobile • Mountain View Camaro
Qualifying No. 1 in Pomona was not only a huge confidence booster, it was also a necessity if the Mountain View team wants to make the upcoming K&N Horsepower Challenge in Vegas.
ODDS: 9-1
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Drew Skillman • Skillman Auto Camaro
If not for a -.001 red-light, he goes to the semifinals in Pomona with a decent shot to win the whole thing. Yes, drag racing is a game of inches (and thousandths).
ODDS: 10-1
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Tanner Gray • Gray Manufacturing Technologies Camaro
What the heck is the Rookie of the Year winner doing all the way down here? Quite honestly, he didn’t have a great start in Pomona. Consider it a mulligan and expect a better outing this time around.
ODDS: 12-1
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Deric Kramer • American Ethanol Camaro
Imagine he was like a kid at Christmas when he looked at the points after Pomona and saw that he’s ranked No. 4. Entirely possible he doesn’t budge from that spot for a while.
ODDS: 14-1