Pomona II: Drivers hope for career-best

POMONA, Calif. - Three of the NHRA POWERade championships have already been claimed. The Pro Stock Bike title is still available. But even if the first three championships were cinched before the first round of qualifying at the season finale at...

POMONA, Calif. - Three of the NHRA POWERade championships have already been claimed. The Pro Stock Bike title is still available. But even if the first three championships were cinched before the first round of qualifying at the season finale at Pomona Raceway, there will still be plenty of honors to race toward.

The Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals at Pomona Raceway could be the site of some record-breaking performances. Cory McClenathan, John Force, Kurt Johnson and Matt Hines are the defending winners in their respective professional categories for the $1.7 million race, the final of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.

The newly crowned champions, Larry Dixon of Top Fuel, Tony Pedregon of Funny Car and Greg Anderson of Pro Stock, are leading the way to the record book. Another stellar year for Dixon and the two-time Top Fuel champion Miller Lite team has presented a few record possibilities.

"I think I like the records that come with winning the championship as opposed to the records that are done without the championship," said Dixon. "These that are coming along now are a lot more fun."

Dixon can again tie his record for the most Top Fuel wins in a season. He has eight wins going into the final race of the season. The Top Fuel record for wins in a season is nine, shared by Dixon (2002) and Gary Scelzi (2000).

Anderson has 11 wins going into the final event of the season, but he can still break the mark. The record is 11 wins, first set in 1991 by Darrell Alderman.

The final round record is also being threatened as Dixon can tie the mark and Anderson can have the record all to himself. Dixon has been in 13 final rounds in 2003, nearing the record he set in 2002 with 14. Pro Stock's final round record is also 14, set by Alderman in 1991 and tied by Jeg Coughlin in 2000 and Anderson this season.

Dixon has already bested his 2002 round-win performance of 57-13 in elimination rounds, going 58-14 headed into Pomona. The Top Fuel round record is 61 round victories, set by Kenny Bernstein in 2001. John Force holds the record for all pro categories, earning 65 round wins in 1996 with just 19 events on the schedule.

Coughlin and Anderson both hold the round-win record for Pro Stock, winning 62 each, second most in all pro categories. Coughlin won 62 rounds during his championship campaign in 2000 and Anderson is 62-11 with four rounds still up for grabs this season.

Doug Kalitta may not be competing for a championship anymore this season, but there is one record to equal for the Mac Tools Top Fuel team. The record for most No. 1 qualifying positions in a Top Fuel season is 10, shared by Gary Beck (1983) and Blaine Johnson (1996). Kalitta has nine, with one race left in the season.

Dixon and Anderson are also on pace to win their championships by the largest margin of victory for each category. Shirley Muldowney won the 1977 Top Fuel crown over Pat Dakin by 330 points for the largest margin in Top Fuel history. Going into the last race of the season, Dixon has a 333-point lead over Kalitta. Bob Glidden won the 1978 Pro Stock championship over Larry Lombardo by 455 in Pro Stock. Anderson leads Kurt Johnson by 439 points.

-nhra-

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Series NHRA
Drivers Shirley Muldowney , Matt Hines , Jeg Coughlin , Larry Dixon , Darrell Alderman , Kenny Bernstein , Kurt Johnson , Tony Pedregon , John Force , Doug Kalitta , Greg Anderson , Bob Glidden , Pat Dakin