The NHRA Mello Yello drag racing series made its way to Pomona, CA for the 51st running of the Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals. A record would fall and champions in Funny Car and Pro Stock motorcycle would be decided on Sunday.
In Top Fuel, Shawn Langdon and his Red Fuel team proved to be too much for the competition on Sunday. In round one he took on Larry Dixon and the C&J energy services team. Langdon left the starting line first with a .054 to Dixon’s .141. This would be useful as Langdon put a 3.828 at 318 mph on the scoreboard to Dixon’s quicker but losing 3.821 at 316 mph. Langdon would then take on the Parts Plus/Great Clips team of Clay Millican. Langdon made short work of Millican as Millican’s car lost traction. Langdon ran a 3.749 at 325 mph. In the semifinal round he would take on the Mac tools dragster of Doug Kalitta. Langdon used his 3.763 at 327 mph to power past Kalitta’s 3.781 at 314 mph. Langdon would then take on newly crowned 2-time champion Antron Brown and the Matco tools team. Brown got off the starting line first with a .049 to a .061. As they neared the finish line Langdon surged ahead with a 3.715 at 332 mph to a 3.732 at 321 mph to capture his 11th career win.
Del Worsham and the DHL Kalitta motorsports team came into Sunday’s eliminations with a 37 point lead over Fast Jack Beckman and the Infinite Hero team. In the opening round Beckman squared off against Chad Head. Beckman set the national record with a 3.897 at 328 mph which gave him 20 points for the round win and an additional 20 points for the record thus passing Worsham by three points. Worsham was in the pair behind Beckman. Worsham made quick work of Tony Pedregon who lost traction early in the run. Worsham now had a 17 point lead. Ron Capps and the NAPA team led off the second round by setting the national record and taking those 20 points away from Beckman when he put up a 3.885 at 326 mph run. This put Beckman back to 37 points behind Worsham. Not to be outdone Beckman was in the very next pair and he would break the record again by putting a 3.884 at 326 mph run up on the scoreboard and recaptured those precious 20 points and vaulted him three points ahead of Worsham.
Worsham took down Robert Hight with a 3.896 at 328 mph to advance to the semifinal round, where he would face off with Beckman in a winner take all match. Both drivers left the starting line nearly together with Beckman having a slight advantage but it would be short lived as his car shook the tires and started to lose traction, He made a quick pedal job and the car recovered but Worsham had a flawless 3.928 at 327 mph run to capture the round win and the championship. Worsham was not done yet as in the final round he defeated Tommy Johnson Jr. and the Make-A-Wish team with a 3.900 at 328 mph to capture his 39th career victory. Worsham is only the third driver in NHRA history to win championships in both Top Fuel and Funny Car.
In Pro Stock Allen Johnson and the Mopar express lane team conquered all. Johnson did not have the best car on the track during eliminations but Johnson used his reaction times to surge out in front his opponents to capture his 26th career win. Johnson will now forever be known as the last driver to capture a win with a carbureted engine in pro stock, as next year the class moves to fuel injection.
In Pro Stock Motorcycle Andrew Hines captured his fifth championship when Jerry Savoie’s motorcycle broke in the second round while facing Hines’s teammate Eddie Krawiec. Krawiec went on to win the event. This is Krawiec’s 31st career win.
The NHRA Mello Yello drag racing series will now enjoy an 88 day break as the teams regroup for the Winternationals in February.