After two wild days of qualifying at In-N-Out Burger Pomona Dragstrip, champions will be crowned Sunday at the Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals, one of the sport’s oldest and most prestigious events.
Defending Top Fuel event champ Justin Ashley seems well poised for a repeat after a dominating Saturday in which he and his Phillips connects team not only won the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge but also grabbed the No. 1 qualifying position with his pass of 3.707.
Ashley will face off against third-generation rising Top Fuel racer Krista Baldwin, whose father, Bobby, worked at the fabled Pomona track and also raced his Top Fueler there, and whose father is the legendary “Golden Greek” of Top Fuel fame, Chris Karamesines.
With a 14-car ladder, the winner of their first-round race will receive a bye run in the second round and be halfway to a Winternationals crown.
Reigning world champ Brittany Force is qualified No. 1 in her Flav-R-Pac dragster while Mission Challenge runner-up Leah Pruett is third.
Cruz Pedregon, who dominated Funny Car action in winning the 2022 season finale in Pomona, again is the performance star after qualifying his Snap-On Tools Dodge No. 1. Pedregon had a trying day Saturday with mechanical issues, but believes that his team will rebound and that they have even more performance on tap than they showed in qualifying.
Pedregon’s first-round draw is in interesting one in 16-time world champ John Force, who was involved in a nasty crash in qualifying with J.R. Todd. Both teams had to bring backup cars out for the balance of qualifying and both remain wild cards.
Alexis DeJoria, who won the Mission Challenge in Phoenix and was runner-up to Chad Green in that evet in Pomona, is qualified No. 2 and having one of her best starts to a season. Her first-round opponent is local favorite Jeff Arend.
Camrie Caruso, who scored her first career win in Pro Stock last weekend at the NHRA Arizona Nationals, is the No. 1 qualifier in Pro Stock. She’ll take on Steve Graham in the first round.
Mission Challenge winner Matt Hartford also is having a great start to the season and qualified No. 2 in Pro Stock behind Caruso. His first opponent will be Deric Kramer.
Five-time and reigning Pro Stock world champ Erica Enders, who has lost in the first round at each of the first two events, qualified just 10th and draws Arizona Nationals low qualifier Cristian Cuadra in round one. Enders is the defending Winternationals champ and looking for a little more Pomona magic.
2022 WINTERNATIONALS WINNERS
Justin Ashley, Top Fuel; Robert Hight, Funny Car; Erica Enders, Pro Stock
MOST EVENT VICTORIES
Don Garlits, 6, TF; John Force, 7, FC; Bob Glidden, 7, PS.
Top Fuel - 3.628 seconds by Clay Millican, Feb. '18; 338.94 mph by Brittany Force, Nov., ‘22
Funny Car - 3.822 seconds by Matt Hagan, Feb. '17; 337.33 mph by Ron Capps, Nov. '22
Pro Stock - 6.480 seconds by Erica Enders, Nov. '14; 213.84 mph by Drew Skillman, Nov. '15
SUNDAY, April 2
Pre-race ceremonies, 10 a.m.
Camping World Series eliminations begin at 11 a.m.
SUNDAY, April 2, FS1 will televise one and half hour of qualifying highlights at 12:30 p.m. (ET)
SUNDAY, April 2, FS1 will televise three hours of finals coverage at 7 p.m. (ET)
Or watch all day on NHRA.tv