Photos by Andrew Chen
The 54th Circle K NHRA Winternationals wrapped up without a hitch this past weekend, filled with good news for the John Force Racing camp, starting with an announcement on Friday that PEAK Antifreeze and BlueDEF Diesel Exhaust Fluid will be multi-year, major associate sponsors. John then went on to set an unofficial ET record of 3.966s and top speed record of 324.12 mph in round two of qualifying that same day, placing him in the top qualifying spot with teammate Robert Hight taking the No. 2 position with a 3.996s pass at 317.94 mph.
When it came to race day, John Force was unstoppable. He battled through three elimination rounds to face off against Matt Hagan in the finals, a repeat of the final race from the 2013 season. This time, the results would be different from last year as Hagan smoked the tires, while Force rocketed down the track to his 139th win with a record ET of 3.965 seconds, resetting his unofficial record from Friday.
Force’s win wasn’t a walk in the park as there were plenty of drivers and teams at the top of their game. Nine of the 12 races in the three professional categories were decided by 0.075 seconds or less during the quarterfinal round. Matt Hagan’s match-up against Robert Hight during second round eliminations was racing at its best as they both had nearly identical reaction times, running side by side down the track with Hagan taking the win by a body clip, crossing the finish line a mere 0.002 seconds before Hight. Alexis DeJoria also made history as the first female Funny Car driver to run in the three second zone with her Patron XO Cafe Toyota Camry Funny Car.
Khalid alBalooshi piloted his Al-Anabi Racing Top Fuel dragster to his third career win, defeating Doug Kalitta with a subdued 3.974 ET at 324.36 mph, rounding out a weekend of clean and close racing; Ron Capps was the only driver to suffer a catastrophic engine failure, blowing off the roof of his NAPA Auto Parts Funny Car.
Here are the final round results from Sunday’s 54th Annual Circle K NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, California:
FUNNY CAR – John Force, Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang, 9.965. 323.58 mph def. Matt Hagan, MOPAR Express Lane Dodge Charger R/T, 8.613, 117.88 mph.
TOP FUEL – Khalid alBalooshi, Al-Anabi dragster, 3.974, 324.36 def. Doug Kalitta, Mac Tools dragster, 5.368, 143.40 mph
PRO STOCK – Jason Line, Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro, 6.526, 212.06 mph def. V. Gaines, Kendall Oil Dodge Avenger, 6.533, 212.56 mph