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NHRA Wrap-Up: Pro Stock Champ Butner, Funny Car’s Hagan & Top Fuel’s Kalitta Win Pomona

 
NHRA pomona winners 2018

NHRA’s Bo Butner (Pro Stock), Matt Hagan (Funny Car), and Doug Kalitta (Top Fuel) celebrate season-opening wins Sunday at the NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, CA. (Image/NHRA)

Pro Stocker Bo Butner wasted little time proving to racing fans that last year’s championship was no fluke when he captured his sixth career win Sunday at the season-opening Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona in Pomona, CA.

Top Fuel’s Doug Kalitta and Funny Car’s Matt Hagan were also winners Sunday in their respective categories at the first of 24 races slated for the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.

Butner took home the victory after driving to a 6.549 at 209.62 run in his Jim Butner’s Auto Chevy Camaro to take down KB Racing teammate Jason Line in the final round. He locked in his sixth career victory as he attempts to defend his Pro Stock world championship this season.

“Both my crew and my car have been running smooth recently, and we are just trying to keep riding that wave,” said Butner, the 2017 NHRA Pro Stock champion. “I feel great in this car and I have all the confidence in the world in my crew.”

Butner entered Sunday sixth in qualifying before taking down Tanner Gray, Greg Anderson, and Erica Enders before facing Line as his 2018 title defense started in victorious fashion.

Kalitta Wins Top Fuel

Kalitta powered to the win with a run of 3.779 at 324.28 in his Mac Tools dragster to take down Tony Schumacher. After finishing as the runner-up at the 2017 Winternationals, Kalitta emerged victorious at the season-opening event for the second time in his career.

“I tip my hat to my guys because I couldn’t do it without him and it’s really special to get a win at a track with so much history,” Kalitta said. “We feel like we have the team in place to have a successful season but I’m really proud of Jim Oberhofer (crew chief) and what he has done for all of our teams.”

Defending Top Fuel champion Brittany Force was involved in a major wreck in the first round of Top Fuel racing, but escaped serious injury, according to reports. The 31-year-old daughter of NHRA Funny Car legend John Force was hospitalized overnight, but appears mostly okay. John Force Racing officials said a CT scan was negative and an MRI showed subtle findings likely from previous injuries.

The event winner Kalitta qualified fifth and took down teammate Richie Crampton, Scott Palmer, and top-qualifier Clay Millican en route to his 44th career win.

Tony Schumacher reached his first final round since Atlanta last season, after besting Terry McMillen, Terry Haddock, and Antron Brown.

Hagan Claims Funny Car Wally

Hagan emerged with a season-opening victory in Funny Car on Sunday with his 3.823-second pass at 335.90 mph in his Dodge Charger R/T to defeat defending world champ Robert Hight in the final round. Hagan defends his Winternationals crown after winning the season-opening event last season en route to a four-win campaign, as he now increases his career win total to 27.

“Keeping our team upbeat, confident and starting the year up on a positive note is good for our team to set goals, no matter how hard they may be to obtain,” Hagan said. “Everything was clicking this weekend and even more than the parts and pieces it’s about having the right guys to use what we have. So far we’ve done it well.”

After qualifying in the top position, Hagan took down Jim Campbell, Cruz Pedregon, and Ron Capps on the road to victory.

Hight qualified second and defeated Jeff Diehl, J.R. Todd and Jack Beckman as he recorded his 24th career runner-up finish.

Kalitta powered to the win with a run of 3.779 at 324.28 in his Mac Tools dragster to take down Tony Schumacher. After finishing as the runner-up at the 2017 Winternationals, Kalitta emerged victorious at the season-opening event for the second time in his career.

“I tip my hat to my guys because I couldn’t do it without him and it’s really special to get a win at a track with so much history,” Kalitta said. “We feel like we have the team in place to have a successful season but I’m really proud of Jim Oberhofer (crew chief) and what he has done for all of our teams.”

Kalitta qualified fifth and took down teammate Richie Crampton, Scott Palmer, and No. 1 qualifier Clay Millican en route to his 44th career win.

Tony Schumacher reached his first final round since Atlanta last season, after besting Terry McMillen, Terry Haddock, and Antron Brown.

The 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season continues with the NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park Feb. 23-25.

NHRA Pro Stock Point Standings

1. Bo Butner            115
2. Jason Line            98
3. Erica Enders          74
4. Deric Kramer          73
5. Drew Skillman         65
   Vincent Nobile        65

NHRA Funny Car Point Standings

1. Matt Hagan           127
2. Robert Hight         101
3. Jack Beckman          81
4. Ron Capps             78
5. Jonnie Lindberg       51

NHRA Top Fuel Point Standings

1. Doug Kalitta         112
2. Tony Schumacher       95
3. Clay Millican         84
4. Antron Brown          78
5. Steve Torrence        60

Drag Race Central and NHRA contributed to this report.

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