Records fall in NHRA’s season-opening Winternationals

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The weekend had more story lines among the professional teams than a Tolstoy novel but, in the end, the finish was a gripping one from Goodyear.

POMONA, Calif. (Feb. 9, 2014) – The National Hot Rod Association’s 2014 campaign started with a record-setting weekend during the Circle K Winternationals at Auto Club Speedway at Pomona.

The weekend had more story lines among the professional teams than a Tolstoy novel but, in the end, the finish was a gripping one from Goodyear.

John Force
John Force

Photo by: Anne Proffit

“It was a great for our Goodyear Eagle Dragway Specials,” said Goodyear’s Bryce Jones. “The ambient conditions let the teams get aggressive with their clutch and chassis adjustments and they generated a lot of horsepower. Our tires supplied traction and the fans saw a lot of fast runs.”

The cool California winter-time temperatures, which did not surpass 70 degrees all weekend, led to record performances among the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series professional teams. John Force set a national Funny Car Elapsed Time record for the 1,000-foot distance during qualifying, 3.966 seconds. He also established a track record for top speed on that run when he was clocked at 324.12 mph. The ET record did not last the weekend. Force bettered his Elapsed Time mark in the final round when he was clocked at 3.965 seconds.

Force’s berth in the Funny Car final marked the sixth straight race in which the 16-time champion has advanced that far. He beat Matt Hagan in the Funny Car final of the season opener. It was Force’s 139th career victory, extending his NHRA record.

“We’re back in the game,” said the 16-time champion. “We’re excited. Everything’s going our way. …What a good time to flex our muscles.”

Doug Kalitta set a track record for elapsed time in Top Fuel during qualifying, 3.713 seconds, and set a track speed record in the second round of eliminations when he was clocked at 330.15 mph.

Khalid alBalooshi beat Kalitta in the final round. It was alBalooshi’s third career win and his second straight in the Winternationals.

alBalooshi said his victory in the first round over former champion Tony Schumacher was an indicator of the day’s promise. “When I won the first round, I thought my day was open,” he said. “Nothing better than when you leave the first (race) with the first trophy.”

Jason Line won the Pro Stock final, edging V. Gaines for the trophy. Line’s win came as his teammate, former champ Greg Anderson, was recovering from heart surgery. The weekend marked the first race for Vincent Nobile’s team operating as a customer of Line and Anderson’s KB Racing team. Nobile was the top qualifier at Pomona.

“It’s a big deal to start the year out like this,” said Line. “We’ve worked hard all winter. We’re off to a good start. The sport is crazy competitive right now.”

Line’s win means he has at least one victory in 11 straight seasons. The win was his third at the Winternationals and the 32nd of his career.

The Carson, California-based Goodyear airship Spirit of America visited the event on Saturday. The Spirit of America is one of three Goodyear airships in the United States and the iconic vehicle was a popular addition to the gathering.

Goodyear

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Tags goodyear, nhra, pomona, winternationals

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