The NHRA season opener returned to Auto Club Raceway at Pomona and it did not disappoint. The Camping World Drag Racing Series Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals presented by ProtectTheHarvest.com enjoyed great weather, fans in the stands, covid restrictions that had been recently lifted and most important, some fast times with a energized feeling of positive momentum.
The Top Fuel final was a battle of young guns in the class. Justin Ashley got the win, racing past Austin Prock for the title, 3.69 to 3.71, for his third career Top Fuel win.
The Funny Car final included last years champ, Ron Capps against a refreshed Robert Hight who is looking forward to a much better 2022. Hight looked strong with a redeeming win, 3.86 to 3.88.
In Pro Stock, Erica Enders had a dominating performance and faced Aaron Stanfield in the final. After Stanfield had to abort his pass, Enders collected her 34th Pro Stock title with a run of 6.559 at 210.31 MPH.
"When you were coming into the day, you know that throughout the year, the Top Fuel field is going to be really tough," said Ashley. "You saw it starting today where races were separated by such little margins. We really had no layups at all, and you're really never going to have any layups, and to be able to beat a guy like Jim Maroney and Antron Brown, Steve Torrence, and Austin Brock really just solidified what we came out here and wanted to do. We spent the offseason trying to work on power, pick up and get to where we want to get to and I feel like today you could see that."
"it was like a bracket car all day today. I mean, this Phillips Connect Toyota top fuel dragster all day long, up and down the racetrack. And from a driver's perspective, when it's going down the racetrack, there are very few things that give you as much confidence that does."
"When he came down, he hooked the injector. It hasn't been coming down straight and he hooked the injector with the body. Luckily, I had a hold of the brake. It could have been way worse if it would have jumped 10 feet or something. I didn't know if we going to shut this thing off but Jimmy's like, 'Nope, let's run this thing,' and staged me and got the job done. But it was kind of a weird win, I'll give you that.
I had to reset because you're still driving a monster with 12,000 horsepower and you've got to focus and pay attention. And, you know, can't go out there and do something stupid just because something else happened. When I got the chutes out and I saw the win light, the first thing I was asking is how Trevor was and Chris Cunningham said he's alright."
"This is my 18th season in Pro Stock so this one is very significant. I mean you treat every race day the same but this 900 race for Pro Stock means a lot to me, especially because I wasn't sure until two weeks ago if I was going to be able to race here after having surgery on my arm over the winter."
"My only hiccup was my light in the final. I went up there and I pre-staged and I always take a deep breath and I pre-stage and the way that the weather changed my glasses completely fogged up. I was scared to go red because we were .012, .013, and .016 today so I just I missed the tree. I wanted to keep all my lights under .020 today, so three out of four is not bad."
See the full story and results from Phil Burgess, NHRA National Dragster Editor:
Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals Sunday photo gallery from NHRA National Dragster: