Leah Pritchett (Top Fuel), Matt Hagan (Funny Car) and Jason Line (Pro Stock) have got their 2017 championship campaigns off on the right foot with wins at the season-opening Circle K NHRA Winternationals.
All three were the No. 1 qualifiers in their respective divisions.
In Top Fuel, it was the No. 1 and No. 2 qualifiers Leah Pritchett and Doug Kalitta who made it through to the finals in Pomona, California. Don Schumacher Racing’s Leah Pritchett collected her second career Top Fuel Wally with a 3.711 in her Papa Johns Dragster while Kalitta smoked the tires. Pritchett also defeated Steve Torrence and Don Schumacher en route to the final after having a Bye in Round 1.
Article continues below ...
“This definitely is taking delivery from the momentum from last year,” said Pritchett. “What just happened 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 ‘A+’, Grade A, perfect kid in school type of situation and we’re taking advantage of it right now.”
Meanwhile, the rivalry between Don Schumacher Racing and John Force Racing has been one of the big stories at the season opening event at the Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, following a heated exchange between team bosses Don Schumacher and John Force earlier in the weekend.
It was quite appropriate then that DSR’s Matt Hagan and JFR’s Courtney Force found themselves squaring off in the Funny Car final, having been the No. 1 and No. 3 qualifiers respectively. Hagan took the win with a 3.875 second pass over a 3.901 by Force. Hagan had also put an end to Jeff Diehl, Jack Beckman and Ron Capps’ days en route to the final.
“It’s a real special race for me, a lot of stuff happened over the off season, with losing my brother,” said Hagan. “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.”
In Pro Stock, KB Racing teammates Jason Line and Jason Anderson proved that they hadn’t lost any of their momentum from 2016. Not only did they qualify No. 1 and No. 2, but they both made it through to the final, where defending champion Line left with a 0.005 light and never looked back. Line had also won rounds against Val Smeland, Tanner Gray and Bo Butner.
“It’s a good way to start the season,” Line said. “Anytime you come to Pomona and win it’s great. I’m 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. That’s just a big deal.”
Additionally for 2017, the NHRA Top Fuel Harley class will be in action at each National Event. On Sunday in Pomona, Jay Turner won the season opener when Ricky House red-lighted in the final.
The Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Top Fuel Harley competitors will all be back in action in two weeks time with the NHRA Arizona Nationals from Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Phoenix.