NHRA - National Hot Rod Association

Tricky Tipster: In-N-Out Burger NHRA Finals

It all comes down to this. There is one race remaining on the 2023 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series tour, and all four of the Professional championships are still up for grabs, although two of them are nearly clinched. Regardless, there will be a lot of drama and excitement.
10 Nov 2023
NHRA National Dragster staff
Tricky Tipster®
Tricky Tipster

It all comes down to this. There is one race remaining on the 2023 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series tour, and all four of the Professional championships are still up for grabs, although two of them are nearly clinched. Regardless, there will be a lot of drama and excitement.

As for the favorites, we’re going with championship contender Steve Torrence in Top Fuel, largely because he’s been in this spot many times before and normally comes through. We also like Matt Hagan in Funny Car for largely the same reason. As for Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle, it’s mostly a no-brainer to choose incoming leaders Erica Enders and Gaige Herrera, both of whom are big favorites to win their respective championships.


The favorite: The Capco team is on the verge of their fifth championship in Top Fuel, but this one will not be easy. Steve Torrence leads Doug Kalitta by just 15 points and is 34 points ahead of Leah Pruett. Mike Salinas and Justin Ashley are also within striking distance, and with the bonus points available in Pomona, it’s entirely possible that one of the leading contenders for the championship will need to win the race in order to earn the title. There’s not much separating the top five drivers in terms of talent and resources, but Torrence’s four prior titles give him a slim edge.

The contenders: we just noted that Leah Pruett, Doug Kalitta, Mike Salinas, and Justin Ashley are all still alive in the fight for the championship, and that automatically makes each of them a contender. Kalitta has six Pomona wins during his long career, while Ashley has won back-to-back NHRA Winternationals titles the last two seasons. Pruett also has a pair of wins at the Winternationals.

In addition to the championship contenders, Brittany Force, Antron Brown, and Austin Prock seem like solid bets to finish the season on a high note. Prock especially bears watching because he closed out the 2022 season with a Pomona victory.

The dark horse: Clay Millican fits the bill here because of the great lengths his Parts Plus team has had to go to in order to finish the season. After damaging a chassis in Las Vegas, the team retreated to Indy in order to make repairs in a roughly 10-day window. Millican has had his ups and downs this season, but this car can be as good as any in the field.

Steve Torrence             Capco Contractors                   4-1
Doug Kalitta                  Mac Tools                                  5-1
Leah Pruett                   Dodge Power Brokers             6-1
Mike Salinas                  Scrappers                                 7-1
Justin Ashley                 Phillips Connect                       8-1
Antron Brown               Matco Tools                             9-1
Austin Prock                  Montana Brands                   10-1
Brittany Force               Monster Energy                    11-1
Clay Millican                  Parts Plus                               13-1
Shawn Langdon           DHL/Kalitta Air                      15-1
Field                                                                               19-1


The favorite: The situation in Funny Car does not differ greatly than the scenario in Top Fuel, where multiple drivers have an opportunity to win the title at the final event of the season. In this case, Matt Hagan, Bob Tasca III, and Robert Hight are all within 17 points of each other, which means essentially that whoever goes the furthest in Pomona will be the champion. In this spot, we tend to make Hagan a slight favorite, although this deal could go multiple ways. Hagan is perhaps the hottest driver in the class this season with six wins in eight finals, although it’s fair to point out that Hight was dominant in his most recent win in Las Vegas and Tasca is also having a career season.

The contenders: Hight and Tasca are actually the co-favorites along with Hagan because there just isn’t much difference between the three teams in terms of talent, resources, and desire. Should one of the three championship contenders not win the race, we’ll once again look to Ron Capps, J.R. Todd, Tim Wilkerson, John Force, or possibly Chad Green to pick up a late-season victory here.

The dark horse: Naturally, we’re going with Cruz Pedregon here largely because of what he did at the 2022 Pomona finale. For those who might not remember, Pedregon dominated the event, and quite frankly, it’s surprising to realize that is his most recent victory. At times this year the Snap-on car has shown signs of steady improvement. A strong finish here would go a long way towards making a long offseason just a bit shorter.

Matt Hagan             Dodge Power Brokers Dodge          3-1
Robert Hight           Flav-R-Pak Chevy                                7-2
Bob Tasca III           Motorcraft Ford                                  7-2
Ron Capps              NAPA Toyota                                       5-1
J.R. Todd                  DHL Toyota                                         6-1
John Force               Peak/Blu Def Chevy                           7-1
Chad Green            Bondcoat Ford                                    9-1    
Tim Wilkerson        SCAG Mowers Ford                            11-1
Alexis DeJoria          Bandero Toyota                                 12-1
Cruz Pedregon        Snap-on Dodge                                  14-1
Blake Alexander      Pronto/Head Inc. Ford                      15-1
Field                                                                                        18-1


The favorite: There shouldn’t be much pressure on Erica Enders going into Pomona because she’s just about got championship No. 6 in the bag. Sure, there are a lot of things that could happen, but Enders realistically needs to win just one round in order to secure the title. Naturally, the Elite team wants more, and because they’ve had the best car during the Countdown to the Championship, there is every reason to think they close the season with another win.

The contenders: For the rest of the field, which includes contenders Greg Anderson, Dallas Glenn, Troy Coughlin Jr., Matt Hartford, Deric Kramer, and a few others, the best they can hope for is to close out the season with a victory because the championship is just about out of reach for most of them.

For what it’s worth, Aaron Stanfield, Bo Butner, Dallas Glenn, Greg Anderson, and Jeg Coughlin Jr. have each won in Pomona before, so they should be among the contenders.

The dark horse: If you’re looking for a first-time winner to close out the year, why not take a shot at Cristian Cuadra? He’s been to final rounds before, and when he’s on his game, which is most races, his lights are as solid as anyone in the class. Honestly, the Cuadra team just needs a little luck to break through for their first professional victory.


Erica Enders              JHG/Elite Camaro                                Even
Greg Anderson         HendrickCars.com Camaro               4-1
Dallas Glenn              RAD Torque Systems Camaro          5-1
Jeg Coughlin Jr.          SCAG Power Equipment Camaro    6-1
Aaron Stanfield          Janac Bros/J3 Energy Camaro          7-1
Matt Hartford             Total Seal Camaro                             8-1
Troy Coughlin Jr.        JEGS.com Camaro                              9-1
Kyle Koretsky             Lucas Oil/Nitro Fish Camaro            10-1
Deric Kramer             GetBioFuels.com Camaro                 11-1
Cristian Cuadra         Corral Boots Mustang                       14-1
Field                                                                                           19-1


The favorite: At this point, Gaige Herrera can only lose if he makes a mistake (which is very rare) or he has some sort of a mechanical problem (which is also quite rare). Other than that, he’s going to win the In-N-Out Burger NHRA Finals and will be crowned the 2023 NHRA Camping World Pro Stock Motorcycle champion as soon as qualifying is complete.

The contenders: After Herrera, we still have Eddie Krawiec searching for career win No. 50 and Matt Smith looking to close out the season with a victory. The same goes for Hector Arana Jr., who is also more than capable of winning this race should something unusual happen to Herrera.

We’re also going to assume that Joey Gladstone will once again be riding a Matt Smith Racing entry, which greatly increases his odds of making it to the final round.

The dark horse: Former world champ Jerry Savoie hasn’t raced much this year, but he’s been effective in his limited appearances, and his WAR Suzuki is as good as almost any bike in the field.


Gaige Herrera             Vance & Hines/Mission Suzuki            Even
Eddie Krawiec             Vance & Hines/Mission Suzuki            5-1
Matt Smith                  Denso Suzuki                                          6-1
Hector Arana Jr.         GETTRX Buell                                           7-1
Joey Gladstone          Precision Services Suzuki                       7-1
Jerry Savoie                White Alligator Suzuki                            8-1
Kelly Clontz                Steamfitters UA 602 Suzuki                   9-1
Jianna Evaristo          Scrappers Suzuki                                     12-1
Steve Johnson           Mac Rak Suzuki                                        14-1
Field                                                                                                19-1