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Tricky Tipster's Winternationals picks

For more than five decades, NHRA National Dragster's famed Tricky Tipster has tested his prognosticating skills prior to each national event. This week, Tricky Tipster handicaps the Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals presented by ProtectTheHarvest.com.
08 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 Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals presented by ProtectTheHarvest.com.

 

TOP FUEL
Funny Car | Pro Stock
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Steve Torrence • Capco Contractors
With the long hair and menacing goatee, he’s got a new look for this season. After last year’s heartbreak, guessing it’s no more Mr. Nice Guy. Also ran well in pre-season test.
ODDS: 3-1
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Leah Pritchett • Papa John’s/Dodge/Pennzoil
Defending event champ has momentum on her side after Phoenix test where she logged a stout 3.664, and the fastest Top Fuel speed (334.73) of the 1,000-foot era.
ODDS: 4-1
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Tony Schumacher • U.S. Army
More of a hunch here but the eight-time champ should benefit from the addition of crew chief Mike Neff, who figures to make a seamless transition from Funny Car to Top Fuel.
ODDS: 6-1
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Antron Brown • Matco Tools/U.S. Army
After back-to-back championships, last year was clearly a disappointment. The Matco team will almost certainly right the ship, but it’s worth noting that Brown has never won this event.
ODDS: 7-1
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Brittany Force • Monster Energy
Set to begin her title defense at the same track where she made history last November. It’s often been said that defending a championship is harder than winning one. Time to find out.
ODDS: 7-1
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Doug Kalitta • Mac Tools
Including the season-ending Auto Club Finals, he’s got eight final rounds at this track. There are a lot of teams looking to rebound this season and this is one of them.
ODDS: 8-1
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Clay Millican • Parts Plus/Great Clips
A great bet to set low elapsed time of the event, but still needs to build on the momentum of last year’s popular Bristol win. A quick start to the season would do wonders for the Stringer Performance team.
ODDS: 10-1
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Richie Crampton • Kalitta Motorsports
He passed last year’s seven-race “audition” with flying colors. Now, it’s time for a full-season assault on the Countdown. Good bet he makes it with room to spare.
ODDS: 13-1
 
FUNNY CAR
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Robert Hight • Auto Club Chevy
The Funny Car field is absolutely stacked this season but he’s wearing the No. 1 for a reason. He be the favorite until someone steps up and takes it from him.
ODDS: 7-2
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Matt Hagan • Mopar Express Lane Dodge
Solid string of 3.8s during Phoenix testing set the stage for a solid run at a third Mello Yello Series Funny Car title. Scores extra credit for his reaction times.
ODDS: 4-1
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Ron Capps • NAPA Dodge
A championship in 2016 and a strong second-place finish last year and a ten year average finish of 4.7 is more than enough evidence to suggest that this is the best Funny Car team of the last decade.
ODDS: 5-1
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Courtney Force • Advance Auto Parts Chevy
Last year’s winless season was such an aberration. That can’t possibly happen again, even when one considers the quality of competition. An early-season victory would do wonders for the mood in the Advance Auto pits.
ODDS: 6-1
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Jack Beckman • Infinite Hero Dodge
Entirely possible that this team didn’t get the testing results they were looking for but they are already a proven commodity, which is to say this is a championship caliber team that will contend for the title.
ODDS: 7-1
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J.R. Todd • DHL Toyota
Now that he’s got a full season of Funny Car racing under his belt it’s time to expect great things. Few would argue that he’s not one of the top three drivers in the class right now.
ODDS: 9-1
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Tommy Johnson Jr. • Make-A-Wish Dodge
Historically, he doesn’t get cranked up until around mid-season but he did win this event in 2005, and since the whole Funny Car class is basically a toss-up this year, he’s ranked No. 7 in our Pomona picks.
ODDS: 11-1
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Cruz Pedregon • Snap-on Toyota
Posted a solid 3.8-second, 330-mph run during the Phoenix test session so it’s entirely likely that the two-time world champ and his Snap-on team have finally turned the corner. Say what you want, but he doesn’t quit.
ODDS: 14-1
 
PRO STOCK
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Bo Butner • Butner Auto Camaro
A year ago, he was still searching for his first national event win as a professional. Today, he is the reigning Mello Yello champ. Amazing how quickly things can change in this sport.
ODDS: 7-2
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Greg Anderson • Summit Racing Camaro
He generally doesn’t need to be motivated, but if last year’s championship disappointment doesn’t light a fire, nothing will. He’s also won this event six times since 2004.
ODDS: 4-1
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Tanner Gray • Valvoline/Gray Motorsports Camaro
A year older and a year wiser, he’s going to be better this year than he was last season and even then, he was borderline spectacular. He’s going to hurt some feelings in 2018.
ODDS: 5-1
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Erica Enders • Elite Motorsports Camaro
Is she really back to her old self? As far as Pro Stock racers go, she was the star of last weekend’s Phoenix test session with a handful of solid 6.5-second runs.
ODDS: 6-1
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Jason Line • Summit Racing Camaro
Last year, he won this event to start the season and then fizzled. While a repeat Pomona victory certainly isn’t out of the question, it’s highly unlikely that he’ll struggle through mid-season.
ODDS: 7-1
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Drew Skillman • Skillman Auto Group Camaro
While his results tend to be a bit streaky, it’s hard to overlook the fact that this is one of the class’ best car and driver combinations. Sometimes, he doesn’t get enough credit for his ability to wheel a Pro Stock car.
ODDS: 9-1
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Chris McGaha • Harlow Sammons Camaro
Extremely difficult to handicap this team early in the season because they don’t test much and don’t share data. It’s hard to imagine that he’s not bringing a competitive package to Pomona, though.
ODDS: 10-1
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Jeg Couglin Jr. • JEGS.com Camaro
Some things simply cannot be explained including his winless 2017 season. Assuming the Elite team has improved, which is almost a certainty, it shouldn’t take long for the 5-x Pro Stock champ to return to the winner’s circle.
ODDS: 12-1