The NHRA Mello Yello Drag racing series entered its final stop on the 2017 campaign in Pomona, California for the Auto Club of Southern California NHRA Finals. Coming into the race, all four professional championships were up for grabs.
In Top Fuel Steve Torrence held a nine-point lead over Brittany Force and the Monster Energy team. Force captured the number one qualifying position on Friday night with a stellar 3.667 @ 330 mph. Meanwhile Torrence qualified fifth with a solid 3.719 @ 289 mph. Force took down Terry Haddock in round one with a 3.688 @ 329 mph. Torrence motored his was past Troy Buff with a 3.708 @ 325 mph to keep the championship battle going. In round two Torrence took on three-time champion Antron Brown. Brown got off the starting line first and held off Torrence with a 3.691 @ 328 to a 3.695 @ 328 mph. Force laid down the quickest run of the round, a 3.679 @ 328 mph to take down Richie Crampton’s 3.757 @ 323 mph. With her victory over Crampton, she captured her first Top Fuel championship and the first for John Force Racing. She also became only the second female Nitro racing driver to capture a series championship; the last to do so was three-time champion Shirley Muldowney back in 1982. With the championship under her belt there was still work to be done for the Monster Energy team; they still had a race to win. She took out Antron Brown in the semifinal round with a 3.6734 @326 mph to a 3.677 @329 mph. In the final round she laid down the quickest run of race day 3.668 @330 mph to defeat Shawn Langdon’s tire smoking 9.818 @ 89 mph. This was Force’s seventh career race win and her first at her home track in Pomona.
Robert Hight’s Auto Club of Southern California Funny Car team came into Pomona with a 20-point lead over defending champion Ron Capps and the NAPA team. Capps qualified in the sixth position with a 3.897 @ 328 mph. Hight’s team struggled big time during qualifying, getting into the field on their fourth and final attempt with a 4.132 @ 236 mph. That was good enough for the 15th position. On race day Hight took on the number two qualifier Tim Wilkerson in the opening round. Hight made short work of Wilkerson when Wilkerson’s car lost traction as soon as he stepped on the gas while Hight put a 3.839 @ 332 mph run on the board. Capps would take on Del Worsham and in a stroke of bizarre racing Worsham would be the only Nitro Funny Car to make it down the left lane without losing traction running a 4.045 @ 306 mph while Capps lost traction and could not recover enough to catch him with a 4.177 @ 316 mph. With Capps’s loss the championship belonged to Hight for the second time in his career. Hight’s last title was in 2009. Hight may have had the championship wrapped up but he and his team still wanted one more trophy. In round two he took down two-time champion Matt Hagan with a 3.851 @ 334 mph. He would then race teammate Courtney Force in the semifinal round. Courtney would have a bird’s eye view as Hight’s car exploded when he crossed the finish line then crossed over to her lane bouncing off the guardrail while carrying quite a bit of speed. He sailed off the end of the track into the sand trap and into a catch net. Hight popped out the emergency hatch on the roof and was uninjured in the incident. Hight’s team brought out their back up car for the final round. Hight would fall short of capturing the event win as Tommy Johnson took him down in the final with a 3.920 @ 329 mph to his tire smoking 6.827 @103 mph.
In Pro Stock, Bo Butner scored his first championship and fifth career race win when he defeated Tanner Gray in the final round.
In Pro Stock Motorcycle it was all Vance and Hines team as Eddie Krawiec clinched his fourth career series title and teammate Andrew Hines scored his 48th career race win.