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57th Annual Circle K NHRA Winternationals

57th Annual Circle K NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, CA

The drag racing season kicks off every year at the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing series, 57th Annual Circle K NHRA Winternationals, held at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, CA. On February 9 thru 12, 2017 the premier NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series began its 24 event season with the Winternationals. Competitors come from Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada to make this an international event.  Racers came from the 7 NHRA divisions in the United States to participate.

The weekend weather included a brief rain Saturday morning, other than that, the temperatures were in the mid 70’s. The track was ready for some good times. The wheel standing Stock Eliminator’s & Super Stock’s were, as usual, very entertaining. Top Fuel Harley’s were an interesting addition.

In year 2016, Pro Stock champion Jason Line made it 2 in a row by outrunning his Summit Racing teammate Greg Anderson. In Funny Cars, Matt Hagan’s 3.875et & 330.07mph Dodge Charger R/T edged out Courtney Force and her Chevy Camaro. In Top Fuel, #1 qualifier Leah Pritchett and the Papa John’s Pizza dragster left Doug Kalitta and his Mac Tools dragster struggling at the start.

In the pits, a classic car show, celebrity autographs, Nitto Alley, and food vendors were packed with families enjoying the show.

FUNNY CAR –  Matt Hagan (far lane), 3.875sec @ 330.07mph beat Courtney Force, 3.901sec @ 326.95mph.
Tony Schumacher  –  took out Brittany Force in the second round.
TOP FUEL –  Leah Pritchett (near lane), 3.711sec @ 324.9mph beat Doug Kalitta, 7.630sec @ 103.85mph. The picture shows Doug Kalitta (behind Leah) struggling at the start
PRO STOCK –  Jason Line (far lane), ’17 Camaro 6.568sec, 211.10mph def. Greg Anderson, ’17 Camaro  6.579sec, 211.56mph.
TOP ALCOHOL DRAGSTER –  Joey Severance, 5.214sec, 275.51mph def. Garrett Bateman, 5.486sec, 263.33mph.
TOP ALCOHOL  FUNNY CAR – S. Westerfield (far lane), Chevy Camaro, 6.652sec, 127.19mph def. Jonnie Lindberg, Chevy Camaro, (foul)
COMPETITION ELIMINATOR –  Doug Lambeck (near lane), Pontiac Sunfire, 8.351sec,  156.97mph def. Clint Neff, Bantam roadster, 7.655sec, 156.48mph.
SUPER STOCK –  Justin Lamb (far lane), Chevy Cobalt, 8.638sec, 153.23mph def. Timothy Fletcher, Camaro, 10.375sec, 120.43mph.
6340 – STOCK ELIMINATOR –  Jerry Emmons (far lane), Chevy Camaro, 10.170sec, 119.87mph def. Justin Jerome, Plymouth Duster, 10.985sec, 119.38mph.
SUPER COMP –  Steve Williams’ Dragster, 8.903sec, 185.38mph def. Dave Alves, Dragster, 8.891sec, 184.77mph.
6357 – SUPER GAS – Ed Olpin (near lane), Corvette, 9.886sec, 168.98mph def. Robert Naber, Corvette, 9.882sec, 163.06mph.
TOP DRAGSTER – Mike Coughlin’s Dragster, 8.093sec, 212.73mph def. Andy Spiegel, Dragster 6.662sec, 199.85mph.
TOP SPORTSMAN – Ed Olpin (far lane), Chevy Camaro, 6.978sec, 198.26mph def. Jeff Gillette, Pontiac GTO, 6.939sec, 193.24mph.

There are 23 more races to go in the 2017 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series!

2017 Winternationals Funny Car Champ  – Matt Hagan
The traditional “Spectator Track Walk” on Sunday morning.
The “Big” Jim Dunn team was sporting this unique Mooneyes Top Fuel Funny Car driven by Jim Campbell
Doug Kalitta had the fastest Top Fuel speed of the event, 331.85mph.
Top Fuel dragster
Brittany Force heats up the tires of her Top Fuel dragster.
300+mph Highway Patrol Cruiser
Robert Hight was piloting his new 300+mph Highway Patrol Cruiser.
DHL Toyota
J.R.Todd moved from Top Fuel to Funny Car as he is driving the DHL Toyota that won 2016 championship.

Editor’s Note: A version of this article first appeared in the June 2017 print issue of the Drive Magazine.