Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals Friday preview – NHRA.com
The 2022 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series will blast off from the starting line today at the Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals presented by ProtectTheHarvest.com at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona with the first of three qualifying sessions.
Pre-entries for the event were the strongest in years, and full fields in Top Fuel, Funny Car, and Pro Stock are guaranteed for the first time in several years, a testament to the resiliency and popularity of the sport.
The Pomona racetrack, home to the Winternationals since 1961, can be one of the quickest on the tour, and favorable weather conditions over the weekend — mid-70s on Friday and Saturday and high-60s on Sunday for final eliminations — almost ensure a record-breaking weekend.
Defending NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series champs Steve Torrence (Top Fuel), Ron Capps (Funny Car), and Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) all have extra motivation to begin their title defenses in strong fashion at the season opener.
Torrence, the four-time and reigning Top Fuel king, this season will face perhaps the strong collection of Top Fuel teams in recent history, not just from tour regulars but from privateers, and Torrence will be out to re-establish himself in the face of the challenge.
Among the biggest news items of the offseason are the return of Tony Schumacher, the class’ all-time wins leader, and 2019 NHRA Rookie of The Year Austin Prock. Prock is the teammate to Brittany Force, last year’s championship runner-up, and a regular favorite to try to wrest the crown from Torrence.
Doug Kalitta, a perennial championship contender who’s never been able to reach the title, will have championship-winning crew chiefs Alan Johnson and Brian Husen tuning his Mac Tools dragster this season, giving him his best shot in years.
Capps, who won the Winternationals last year in its COVID-shifted summer presentation, is also eager to let fans and his fellow competitors know that his new dual role as owner and driver won’t affect the performance of his NAPA Auto Parts team.
Capps, like Torrence, faces a tough gauntlet of teams right from the jump as 20 entries have been filed for the 16-car field, making qualifying especially important for all teams. Among Capps’ perennial challengers are three-time champ Matt Hagan, who along with Top Fuel teammate Leah Pruett, will be making his first official start for Tony Stewart Racing; Bob Tasca III, who won the Auto Club NHRA Finals last November in Pomona; teammates John Force and Robert Hight, who excelled during preseason testing last weekend in Phoenix; two-time world champ Cruz Pedregon; and Toyota teammates J.R. Todd and Alexis DeJoria, who will be debuting the sleek new Toyota GR Supra body at the event.
Anderson will be looking to make Pro Stock history at the race, which is the 900th NHRA national event to host the Pro Stock class. Anderson collected his class-leading 99th victory at the season finale in Pomona and would like Pro Stock’s 900th to also be the site of his 100th win. Only Funny Car kingpin John Force has also reached the 100-wins mark in the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series.
Four-time world champ Erica Enders will once again provide his steepest competition as she seeks to regain the crown that Anderson took away last season, but she won’t be alone. Anderson’s young-gun teammates — 2021 NHRA Rookie of the Year Dallas Glenn …….