Leah Pritchett, a Redlands, Calif. native, earned the second Top Fuel victory of her career at the 57th annual Circle K NHRA Winternationals on Sunday at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, her home track.
Matt Hagan (Funny Car) and Jason Line (Pro Stock) also had wins in their respective categories at the first event of 24 on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season. Pritchett, who was also the No. 1 qualifier of the event, piloted her Papa Johnís Pizza dragster to a 3.711-second pass at 324.98 mph to defeat Doug Kalitta and his Mac Tools dragsterís 7.630 at 103.85 after smoking the tires at the start.
"This definitely is taking delivery from the momentum from last year," Pritchett said. "What just happen is the best thing that has ever happened for me professionally in my career. In my opinion, right now, we have the perfect group of people, partners, sponsors, a car that is reacting. This thing is ĎA+í, Grade A, perfect kid in school type of situation and weíre taking advantage of it right now."
Pritchett defeated Steve Torrence and eight-time champion Tony Schumacher en route to the finals. Kalitta, who was in his third consecutive final at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, bettered Terry McMillen and three-time and reigning world champion Antron Brown.
Hagan raced to his 23rd Funny Car victory with a 3.875 at 330.07 in his Mopar Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T. He defeated Courtney Force who ran a 3.901 at 326.95 in the final for his second win at the Circle K NHRA Winternationals, he also won in 2015.
"Itís a real special race for me, a lot of stuff happened over the off season, with losing my brother," said Hagan, who came into eliminations as the No. 1 qualifier. "We came out motivated. My lights have been great, the car has been great and my team has been great. We just have got a real powerhouse team right now. We just have to keep some of this momentum going."
On his way to the finals Hagan powered past teammates Jack Beckman and Ron Capps, the defending world champion. Force took out J.R. Todd, who was racing in his first event in a Funny Car, and father and team owner John Force.
In Pro Stock, Line started his championship defense with a victory over teammate Greg Anderson. Line ran a 6.568 at 211.10 in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevy Camaro for his 46th career victory and 14th consecutive season with at least one win. Anderson ran a 6.579 at 211.56 in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevy Camaro.
"Itís a good way to start the season," Line said. "Anytime you come to Pomona and win itís great. Iím very excited, very happy and a little bit relieved. Just a great day for KB Racing and the Summit Cars. To be able to come here and qualify one and two and finish one and two and have three cars in the semis. Thatís just a big deal."
On his way to victory, Line, who has five victories at the Circle K NHRA Winternationals, took out rookie Tanner Gray and KB Racing teammate Bo Butner while Anderson faced veteran Jeg Coughlin Jr. and two-time world champion Erica Enders.
The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season continues February 24-26 at the NHRA Arizona Nationals being held at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Chandler, Ariz.
POMONA, Calif. -- Final finish order (1-16) at the 57th annual Circle K NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona. The race is the first of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.
TOP FUEL: 1. Leah Pritchett; 2. Doug Kalitta; 3. Antron Brown; 4. Tony Schumacher; 5. Troy Coughlin Jr.; 6. Steve Torrence; 7. Terry McMillen; 8. Brittany Force; 9. Shawn Reed; 10. Scott Palmer; 11. Clay Millican; 12. Steve Faria; 13. Terry Haddock; 14. Troy Buff; 15. Steven Chrisman.
FUNNY CAR: 1. Matt Hagan; 2. Courtney Force; 3. John Force; 4. Ron Capps; 5. Jack Beckman; 6. J.R. Todd; 7. Tommy Johnson Jr.; 8. Del Worsham; 9. Alexis DeJoria; 10. Robert Hight; 11. Tim Wilkerson; 12. Bob Bode; 13. Phil Burkart; 14. Jeff Diehl; 15. Cruz Pedregon; 16. Jim Campbell.
PRO STOCK: 1. Jason Line; 2. Greg Anderson; 3. Bo Butner; 4. Erica Enders; 5. Shane Gray; 6. Jeg Coughlin; 7. Tanner Gray; 8. Vincent Nobile; 9. Drew Skillman; 10. Chris McGaha; 11. Matt Hartford; 12. Alan Prusiensky; 13. Kenny Delco; 14. Deric Kramer; 15. Allen Johnson; 16. Val Smeland.
POMONA, Calif. -- Sunday's final results from the 57th annual Circle K NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona. The race is the first of 24 in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series:
1. Matt Hagan, 119; 2. Courtney Force, 99; 3. John Force, 80; 4. Ron Capps, 77; 5. Jack Beckman, 53; 6. (tie) Tommy Johnson Jr., 52; J.R. Todd, 52; Del Worsham, 52; 9. Robert Hight, 36; 10. Alexis DeJoria, 35.
1. Jason Line, 126; 2. Greg Anderson, 103; 3. Bo Butner, 77; 4. Erica Enders, 75; 5. Vincent Nobile, 58; 6. (tie) Jeg Coughlin, 56; Shane Gray, 56; 8. Tanner Gray, 52; 9. Chris McGaha, 33; 10. (tie) Matt Hartford, 32; Deric Kramer, 32; Drew Skillman, 32.
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