The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series made its way to Pomona, California for the final race of the 2019 season. Champions would be crowned but drama would overshadow some of the day as well.
Top Fuel was the talk of the day as the race started with three drivers vying for the title but ended with a very unsportsmanlike move following the first round of competition. Reigning series champion Steve Torrence would take center stage in round one while squaring off against rookie Cameron Ferre.
Ferre took to playing a strategy game on the starting line trying to ruffle the champ’s feathers. It worked to an extent as Torrence left the starting line with a very uncharacteristic .142 reaction time while Ferre left with a .072. Torrence easily caught and passed the rookie and took the round win but once the two drivers exited their dragsters, thing got heated. Torrence, who was very unhappy with Ferre playing a game on the starting line, went to talk to Ferre and by the end of the conversation Torrence shoved Ferre in the face and the two were separated by Torrence’s crew before it could get any worse. Torrence would go on to defeat Brittany Force in round two to claim his second straight title but the crowd in Pomona did not take his actions lightly as he was showered with “boo’s” for the remainder of the day.
Doug Kalitta would come out on top at the end of the day defeating teammate Richie Crampton in the Top Fuel final to capture his 47th career victory and finished second in the season standings to Torrence by just three points.
Funny Car had its share of drama as well. Four drivers started the day with a chance at the title but when it was all said and done Robert Hight would hoist the big trophy. In the spirit of putting on a show for the fans Hight, in the final round, decided to do a 660 foot burnout and the crowd went wild. As he started to back up the car went silent, Hight immediately hopped out the escape hatch, climbed the wall and watched as Jack Beckman took the event crown for the day. Beckman would finish the year second in points to Hight, trailing the season champion by eight points.
In Pro Stock, Erica Enders captured her third career series title. Her teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr. was trying the best he could to catch her; Coughlin won the race but would fall 26 points shy of the season title.
In Pro Stock Motorcycle Andrew Hines was crowned champion but he fell victim to his own mistake in round one in the final race of the season. Rookie Jianna Salinas on her Suzuki was really no match for her competition but on this day the stars aligned in her favor. In round won Hines red lighted thus gifting the round to Salinas. With three other riders vying for the title Hines would have to watch and wait. In round two Salinas took out Steve Johnson when his bike went silent and coasted down the quarter mile. In the semifinal round she would take out another championship contender Matt Smith when his bike too went silent and coasted. In the final round she met Jerry Savoie. If Savoie won the round he would have been the champ. When the team fired up the bike, there appeared to be something wrong with the motor. He pulled it up to the line and staged it, when the lights flashed and the green came on silence struck his motorcycle as the engine quit running and he watched Salinas and his championship hopes cruise down the quarter mile thus giving the title to Hines.