The rain-delayed season-opening event of the 2019 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series concluded Monday with Bo Butner in Pro Stock, Robert Hight in Funny Car, and Doug Kalitta in Top Fuel winning the NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, CA.
Butner Outruns Line to Win Pro Stock
In Pro Stock, the final was a rematch of the 2018 Winternationals, with Butner defended his event title against Team Summit and KB Racing teammate Jason Line after driving to a 6.522-second, 211.59 miles-per-hour run in his Chevrolet Camaro to claim his eighth career victory.
“We were really struggling during qualifying,” Butner said. “I definitely feel like we had the best car all four rounds today. I feel like we have a great car and team this year and I’m looking forward to keep going. We’re going to try and win them and the KB Racing team is as strong as ever.”
Butner entered eliminations third in qualifying before taking down Alan Prusiensky, Chris McGaha, and two-time world champion Erica Enders.
Hight Wins Funny Car
Hight powered to the win with a run of 3.881 at 329.75 in his Chevy Camaro SS to take down Jack Beckman. After finishing as the runner-up at the 2018 Winternationals, Hight emerged victorious at the season-opening event for the fourth time in his career.
“You look at the Funny Car class and I think it’s tougher this year than last,” Hight said. “To come out here and be the #1 qualifier and win the race, that’s quite an accomplishment for this team. We’re going to have to be on our game all year long.”
Hight sat atop the category following qualifying and took down Terry Haddock, Bob Tasca III, and team owner John Force en route to his 46th career win.
Beckman reached his first final round since Brainerd last season, after besting Phil Burkhart Jr., Cruz Pedregon, and teammate Tommy Johnson Jr.
Kalitta Beats Torrence to Win Top Fuel
Kalitta took home the Top Fuel victory with a 4.014 at 269.29 in his dragster to defeat defending world champion Steve Torrence in the final round.
Kalitta defends his Winternationals crown after winning the season-opening event last season as he now increases his career win total to 45.
“This place has always been very special for me,” Kalitta said. “To have success here is more than you could imagine for me. We were fortunate to get by the Capco guys but we’re going to keep at it. We are really hungry, and we’ve got Rob (Flynn, crew chief) and Troy (Fasching, crew chief) doing just an awesome job. I’m just really proud of them.”
After qualifying in the seventh position, Kalitta took down Scott Palmer, Billy Torrence, and Terry McMillen on the road to victory.
Steve Torrence was the top qualifier for the event and defeated Steve Faria and Mike Salinas as he recorded his seventh-consecutive final round appearance and 15th of his career.
The 2019 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season continues with NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Chandler, AZ, Feb. 22-24.
NHRA Pro Stock Point Standings
1. Bo Butner 120 2. Jason Line 97 3. Erica Enders 80 4. Alex Laughlin 76 5. Matt Hartford 52 Chris McGaha 52
NHRA Funny Car Point Standings
1. Robert Hight 121 2. Jack Beckman 100 3. Tommy Johnson Jr. 81 4. John Force 71 5. Shawn Langdon 58
NHRA Top Fuel Point Standings
1. Doug Kalitta 117 2. Steve Torrence 106 3. Terry McMillen 72 4. Mike Salinas 70 5. Billy Torrence 56
Drag Race Central and NHRA contributed to this report.