The championship scenarios have been set for all four Mello Yello NHRA Drag Racing Series categories following qualifying at the Auto Club NHRA Finals in Pomona. Below are the scenarios for Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle ahead of race day in Pomona so you can see what the racers still in contention for a title must do to bring home a championship.
We'll go class-by-class, beginning with Top Fuel, where defending world champion Steve Torrence retained his lead over Brittany Force and qualified in pole position. He will race Cameron Ferre in the first round, while Force will take on three-time world champ Antron Brown.
Torrence can clinch back-to-back world titles by going the same number of rounds as Force. He will automatically win the 2019 Top Fuel title if he wins in the second round because of the positioning of the ladder.
Force will win her second title and first since 2017 if she goes one round further than Torrence.
Doug Kalitta dropped to a 63-point deficit and is now in the same situation as Billy Torrence. Both racers must go three rounds further than Steve Torrence to win their first world championships. They will be eliminated if Steve Torrence wins in the second round.
Leah Pritchett, Austin Prock and Mike Salinas have all been eliminated from championship contention following qualifying.
Robert Hight held serve during qualifying despite not making a Jimmy Prock-esque pass until the final session of the Auto Club NHRA Finals. He holds a two-round lead over Jack Beckman and Matt Hagan and controls his destiny. Here are the scenarios:
Hight will automatically win his third title if he reaches the final round. There are still five racers in title contention on the final day of the 2019 season.
Jack Beckman and Matt Hagan must go at least two rounds further than Hight to win a championship. Hagan can take Hight out himself in the semifinals, while Beckman is on the opposite side of the ladder.
John Force can take out his teammate in the first round of the race, setting up a drama-filled first round. If Force wins the race, the title battle is on in Pomona. He only needs to go two rounds further than Beckman (who, again, is on the opposite side of the ladder). Force also would need to go two rounds further than Hagan, who the 16-time champion could face in the semifinals. He would not control his destiny, but he would open the door for everyone else.
Bob Tasca III must win the race AND Force must defeat Hight in the first round for the Ford Mustang driver to have an opportunity.
Ron Capps, J.R. Todd and Tommy Johnson Jr. have been eliminated from championship contention.
Erica Enders will battle longtime rival Greg Anderson in the first round while fighting for her third championship. Anderson was eliminated from championship contention following Enders' qualification for the Auto Club NHRA Finals, but he can keep K.B. Racing teammates Jason Line and Bo Butner in the hunt for a title by defeating the Texan in the first round. Here are the scenarios:
Enders holds an 81-point lead over Elite Motorsports teammate Jeg Coughlin and will win her third championship unless he goes three rounds further than her Sunday. Enders will clinch her third championship, and first since 2015 if she wins in the second round.
Jeg Coughlin Jr. will win the 2019 Pro Stock championship by going three rounds further than Enders. He must win the race if Enders wins in the first round OR reach the final if Enders loses in the first round.
Bo Butner and Jason Line are in the same position: Teammate Greg Anderson must defeat Enders in the first round and then they must win the race to claim the 2019 Pro Stock world title.
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE
Andrew Hines eliminated two of the contenders for the Pro Stock Motorcycle world championship during qualifying. Eddie Krawiec and Karen Stoffer can no longer contend for the 2019 title and must turn their attention to the 2020 campaign (and winning the Auto Club NHRA Finals, of course).
Hines will clinch the 2019 Pro Stock Motorcycle title if he wins in the first round. It's as simple as that. He races Jianna Salinas in the first round; the rookie racer will have two big fans.
Matt Smith and Jerry Savoie just bought Scrappers Racing t-shirts. They need Salinas to beat Hines in the first round and then they need to win the race. It's a tough road, but there is a chance.