The NHRA Mello Yello drag racing series opened up the 2017 season at the Los Angeles County fair plex in Pomona, home of Auto Club Raceway at Pomona this past weekend. Weather hindered the round of pro qualifying on Friday night but Matt Hagan tied both the quickest and fastest runs in NHRA Funny Car history when he posted a 3.822 at 335.57 mph in his Mopar Express Lane Dodge.
In Top Fuel Leah Pritchett and the Papa John’s Pizza dragster captured the pole and earned a bye run in the opening round of eliminations thus advancing her to the second round where she squared off against the Capco Contractors dragster of Steve Torrence. Pritchett put a 3.707 at 324 mph up on the scoreboard to defeat Torrence’s 3.755 at 328 mph. She then took on teammate Tony Schumacher and the US Army team in the semifinal round. Pritchett got off the starting line first and never looked back, running a 3.687 at 327 mph to advance into the final round against Doug Kalitta.
Kalitta and the Mac Tools team had been the car to beat all day long running 3.696, 3.687, and 3.698 to advance his way through the competition. In the final it would be all Pritchett as Kalitta’s car lost traction the moment he put his foot on the throttle. Pritchett put up a 3.711 at 324 mph to capture the second win of her career and first at Pomona Raceway.
In Funny Car action, Matt Hagan proved why he is a two-time series champion. He took down Jeff Diehl in the opening round with 3.885 at 331 mph to a tire smoking 11.556 at 69 mph. He would then take on teammate Jack Beckman in the Infinite Hero Dodge. Beckman gave Hagan all he could handle but came up short with a 3.893 at 328 mph to Hagan’s 3.882 at 329 mph. In the semifinal round, Hagan, would again take on a teammate but this time it would be defending series champion Ron Capps and the NAPA Auto Parts team. Capps jumped the gun on the starting line and fouled out which disqualified him; meanwhile Hagan was having troubles of his own as the car lost traction. It pitched sideways nearly crossing the centerline which would have disqualified him and handed the win to Capps. Hagan was able to hang on to it and get the round win. In the final round, he would take on Courtney Force in her new look Advance Auto Parts Chevy Camaro. Force had an eventful trip to the final round as in the opening round she nearly crossed the centerline while racing Jim Campbell. In round two she took on JR Todd who was making his debut start in a nitro funny car. She put a 3.892 at 326 mph to get the win. Her semifinal round match would be none other than her father, 16-time champion John Force in his Peak Antifreeze Camaro. She left him on the starting line and pulled away with a 3.872 at 326 mph to his 3.886 at 328 mph. In the final round, Hagan and Force left together but it would be all Hagan as he posted a 3.875 at 330 mph on the scoreboard to Force’s 3.901 at 326 mph. This was Hagan’s 23rd career win and second at the Winternationals.
In Pro Stock, it would be all Team Summit picking up where they left off last year. Jason Line and Greg Anderson squared off in the final round. Line pulled a .005 reaction time to Andersons .056. Line would never look back, running a 6.568 at 211 mph to a 6.579 at 211 mph. This was Line’s 46th career win.
The next stop for the NHRA Mello Yello Series is Phoenix, AZ for the NHRA Arizona Nationals, Feb. 24-26.