2019 winternationals nhra winners circle pomona

Bo Butner (Pro Stock), Robert Hight (Funny Car), and Doug Kalitta (Top Fuel) celebrate their season-opening victories at the NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, CA. (Image/NHRA)

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.