The NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series made the traditional stop at the LA County Fairplex, home of Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, CA and the Lucas Oil Winternationals. The Series kicked off the season with some incredible performances and some wild rides over the Presidents’ Day weekend.
In Top Fuel, 2020 Rookie of the Year Justin Ashley and his Phillips Connection dragster picked up the victory Sunday, Feb. 20. Ashley, who qualified in the number two position, would open round one with a stellar 3.699 @ 330 mph to take down Jim Maroney. In round two Ashley would take on three-time champion Antron Brown with whom he shares a technical alliance. Both drivers left the starting line at the same time but it was all Ashley with another 3.692 @ 333 mph to Brown’s 3.742 @ 326 mph. With that round win he would now take on the reigning four-time champion Steve Torrence. Ashley posted another solid run with a 3.702 @ 329 mph to defeat Torrence, who put a 3.731 @ 326 mph on the scoreboard. In the final round Ashley would have to face the 2019 NHRA Rookie of the Year Austin Prock and his Montana Brand dragster. Ashley would once again prove to have the stronger car with a 3.694 @ 314 mph to Prock’s 3.713 @ 333 mph.
In Funny Car, three-time champion Robert Hight and his AAA Chevy Camaro put the field on notice on Sunday. Hight struggled all of last year and could only manage an eighth place finish in the points. Here in Pomona, Hight qualified number two and proceeded to mow down the field. Round one, Hight put up an impressive 3.890 @ 328 mph to defeat Jason Rupert. In the second round Tony Jurado would fall victim to Hight 3.893 @ 331 mph. In the semifinal round another three-time champion Matt Hagan would become the next driver to watch Hight streak to the finish line as Hight put a 3.861 @ 332 mph on the scoreboard. In an eventful final round, it would be Hight and reigning champ Ron Capps and his NAPA Dodge. Capps was a little tardy getting up to the starting line as his team was fighting a mechanical problem all the way to the start up position. Hight had an unusual experience as his crewmember was lowering the body after the team made their final adjustments; the body of the car caught part of the throttle cable thus launching the car forward hitting the crewman. Hight held all the brake he could and kept the car from doing any serious injury to the crew member. The crew member was checked out and escaped the incident with just a few bruises. After all the pre-run events the two cars were staged and sent on their way down the race track. Capps gave Hight all he could handle with a 3.882 @ 333 mph but fell short to Hight’s 3.861 @ 329 mph.
In Pro Stock, four-time champion Erica Enders returned to the winner’s circle after defeating Cristian Cuadra, Dallas Glenn, reigning four-time champion Greg Anderson and Aaron Stanfield.
Funny Car saw a very scary moment during the final qualifying session on Saturday as Alex Miladinovich’s car lost traction at 150 to 200 feet off the starting line and made a hard right-hand turn, the car began to skip across the track and slammed hard into the wall with the right front and then whipped the back end of the car into the wall, throwing the car into the air before bouncing back to the ground. From there, it went rolling back across the track where it came to a stop. Miladinovich popped out of the destroyed race car, stood atop it and put his arms in the air to let everyone in the crowd, his team and his family know he was okay.