The best in Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock will once again attempt to get off to a lightning quick start at one of drag racing’s most revered events.
Pomona, Calif. — The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series will kick-off another season in sunny Southern California with the tradition-rich Circle K NHRA Winternationals, Feb. 5-8, at historic Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.
Celebrating its 55th running, the iconic season-opener has always been on the top of every NHRA driver’s list of dream races to win on the Mello Yello circuit. Drag racing’s biggest names have reigned supreme at the facility located at the L.A. Fairplex, also home to the Los Angeles County Fair.
The best in Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock will once again attempt to get off to a lightning quick start at one of drag racing’s most revered events. Khalid alBalooshi (Top Fuel), John Force (Funny Car) and Jason Line (Pro Stock) were last year’s winners of the race that will once again be televised nationally on ESPN2.
In Top Fuel, reigning world champion Tony Schumacher will be looking to defend his crown. Schumacher, an eight-time world champion, will once again pilot the U.S. Army dragster for Don Schumacher Racing in 2015. He closed the 2014 season in style with victories at three of the six Countdown to the Championship events and clinched the championship during qualifying of the season-ending Auto Club NHRA Finals in November. Schumacher is a two-time winner of the Circle K NHRA Winternationals.
Former world champions Antron Brown and Larry Dixon, as well as top category challengers J.R. Todd, Spencer Massey, Doug Kalitta, 2014 NHRA rookie of the year Richie Crampton and category newcomer Dave Connolly, will all be racing fast to prevent Schumacher from adding to his category-leading win total and winning another series crown.
In Funny Car, Virginia cattle rancher Matt Hagan claimed his second world championship at the season-ending race last season, dethroning 16-time world champion John Force. Hagan, who won his first championship in 2011, will return to the controls of his 10,000 horsepower Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger for Don Schumacher Racing. He was the Winternationals runner-up last season event and is a two-time defending winner of the NHRA Finals at Pomona. He is looking for his first victory at the Circle K NHRA Winternationals.
The Force-Hagan rivalry has been intense the last few seasons with both competing for the world championship and finishing first and second two seasons in a row. Fans are being treated to a Funny Car rivalry that is poised to enter the legendary status of the Force-Cruz Pedregon rivalry of the 1990s.
Force is not resting on his laurels however. He is determined to win his 17th championship and will be looking to repeat his season-opening win. He will be joined by Tommy Johnson Jr., teammate and daughter Courtney Force and teammate Robert Hight in their attempt to wrestle the championship away from Hagan.
In Pro Stock, Erica Enders-Stevens reigned supreme in one of the most exciting championship battles ever, defeating Jason Line in a winner-take-all final side-by-side race of the year to claim her first world championship. Enders-Stevens, who became the first female Pro Stock champion and third female to win a title in the NHRA professional ranks, returns in her Elite Motorsports Chevy Camaro and will be looking to add a win at the season-opening event to her collection of 12 career victories.
Line, a two-time world champion, is the defending and three-time winner of the Winternationals. Past world champ Allen Johnson and Gray Motorsports teammates Shane Gray and Jonathan Gray will all figure to be major factors in both the Circle K NHRA Winternationals and the 2015 championship hunt.
For the fans
As always, fans will have the opportunity to interact with their favorite drivers as they’re granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. This unique opportunity in motorsports gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to see firsthand the highly-skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds, and enjoy some cherished face time and get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers.
Fans also will want to visit NHRA’s popular Nitro Alley and Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create a carnival atmosphere, with interactive displays, simulated competitions, merchandise, food and fun for the entire family.
The event will also feature thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series.
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying begins Friday, Feb. 6, with sessions at 12:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. The final two qualifying sessions will take place Saturday, Feb. 7, at 12:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, Feb. 8.