Winternationals open season at Pomona

It's time to dig out the earplugs and sun block; the NHRA is back in Southern California for the K&N Filters Winternationals this weekend at Pomona. The $2 million race, is the first of 23 events in the $50 million series. Today was Media Day...

It's time to dig out the earplugs and sun block; the NHRA is back in Southern California for the K&N Filters Winternationals this weekend at Pomona. The $2 million race, is the first of 23 events in the $50 million series.

Today was Media Day out at Pomona and the folks from POWERade were nice enough to put together a fun little event for us media people. After all the business is taken care of we got to hop in the drivers seat and race down the quarter mile in equally prepared Pontiac Grand Am vehicles. Yours truly didn't do half bad but I got caught sleeping at the lights and lost. Which I can deal with, even though I was quicker and faster than the girl, yes girl, that claimed victory over me.

2002 Season Recap

Coming off one of the most dominant Top Fuel seasons in recent NHRA history, driver Larry Dixon and the Miller Lite crew are poised to defend their POWERade Top Fuel Championship title. Dixon took the points lead with a win at the season opener at Pomona and never looked back. He is only the second Top Fuel champion to hold the points lead all season. Dixon finished the season with nine event wins in a Top Fuel record 14 final round appearances. Kenny Bernstein gave Dixon the most competition during 2002 but came up just short in his attempt at a third Top Fuel title.

Kenny Bernstein took his final lap as a driver at the Automobile Club of Southern California Finals in November, closing out a career that has spanned four decades. Throughout his illustrious career, Bernstein has earned six top fuel championships, four in the Budweiser Funny Car and two in the Budweiser Top Fuel car. He has 65 career wins, 35 in Top Fuel and 30 in a Funny Car, which puts him fifth among all drivers. He has also appeared in 114 final rounds, 66 in Top Fuel and 48 in a Funny Car, both of which earn him second place among all drivers.

While Dixon dominated in Top Fuel, the 11 time Top Fuel Funny Car Champion John Force and teammate Tony Pedregon provided the tightest points battle in Funny Car history. The race for the title ended when Force in his Castrol GTX Ford Mustang, beat Pedregon in a photo-finish race at the Finals last year at Pomona. Force collected his 10th consecutive NHRA Funny Car championship, and 12th overall edging out teammate Pendergon in a truly dramatic fashion. Forces season was a memorable one indeed, as he earned eight victories and increased his career win total to 106, second all-time among drivers in major auto racing series behind NASCAR legend Richard Petty.

John Force and Tony Pedregon unveiled a new paint scheme special for this weekend only. Their cars now share half of each other's paint jobs. After this event they will return to their regular hot rod colors.

Jeg Coughlin collected his second POWERade Pro Stock title aboard the Jeg's Mail Order Chevy Cavalier. Coughlin started of the season relatively slow, not collecting his first victory until the Sears Craftsman NHRA Nationals, which was the 12 race of the season. Coughlin won eight of the last 12 events which propelled him to the top of the point standings in the ultra- competitive category that featured 13 different winners during the season, with a few of those event winners finishing the season outside the top 10 of the Pro Stock point standings.

Angelle Savoie, rider of the Mohegan Sun Suzuki, claimed her third consecutive title in Pro Stock Bike. Matt Hines is the only other driver to share three consecutive Pro Stock Bike Championships. Savoie held off the likes of Craig Treble and Matt Hines in order to earn her third title, tying her with Shirley Muldowney for the most championships by a female competitor in NHRA history.

Special Weekend Event

As many of you can remember, last years Finals at Pomona were rained out, which meant the postponement of the Budweiser Shootout. Saturday is your chance to see last year's event in full. The field for the Shootout has been modified to accommodate all the action that has been planed for this weekends K&N Winternationals.

Many of the drivers commented that if the weather continues to be as nice as it has been then we could definitely see some records fall this weekend. With all of the changes that were made during the off season, this year promises to be one of the most competitive in NHRA's 50 year history.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Shirley Muldowney , Matt Hines , Jeg Coughlin , Larry Dixon , Kenny Bernstein , Tony Pedregon , John Force , Craig Treble