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NHRA Wrap-Up: Kalitta, Beckman & Coughlin Make it Back-to-Back in Pomona

Doug Kalitta on Sunday became the first NHRA Top Fuel driver to win the season-opening NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, CA three consecutive times. (Image/The Capital Sports Report)

For the third straight year NHRA Top Fuel driver Doug Kalitta won the Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals. Kalitta is the first Top Fuel driver to win the season opener three times in a row.

Sunday’s win marks Kalitta’s 48th career win, placing him fifth in wins on the all-time Top Fuel list.

Jack Beckman in Funny Car and Jeg Coughlin Jr. in Pro Stock also took home event wins in their respective categories.

Kalitta, Beckman, and Coughlin Jr. were also winners of the Auto Club NHRA Finals at Pomona at the last race there this past November.

This is also the first time in NHRA history that that has happened.

Kalitta went 3.698-seconds at 330.23 miles per hour in his dragster to defeat Austin Prock in the final round. Kalitta has won four of the last five races at the track and has advanced to five final rounds in a row at the Winternationals. Kalitta defeated Brandon Welch, Justin Ashley, and former world champion Brittany Force to advance to the finals Sunday.

“It’s been an interesting day for sure. A lot of close racing,” Kalitta said. “We have people up there trying to tear the tree down on you so you’re a little nervous about all that. It worked out well though. I’m just really proud of my guys. They busted their tails today. We tore up a little bit of parts here, but it was all good. The 60th is pretty special. Connie was here at the first one. I couldn’t be happier for him and the family and the legacy that’s been created out here. I’m just glad this is one of our better tracks.”

Beckman Wins Funny Car, Ties Del Worsham for #8 All Time

In Funny Car, Beckman picked up a win after going 3.837 at 333.33 mph in his Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat. Beckman defeated Steven Densham, Ron Capps, and Alexis DeJoria to advance to the final round, where he took the win over Funny Car legend John Force.

Beckman captured his first career win at the Winternationals in 1998 in Super Comp. Sunday’s win marks Beckman’s 31st career Funny Car win, tying Del Worsham for eighth all time in class history.

“To beat John Force in the final, it’s a pretty cool weekend,” Beckman said. “It’s my home track. I’ve probably spent more time down there on the starting line than anybody else. I feel comfortable here. There were a lot of friends and family out here today. This a perfect storm. I had never won a nitro title at Pomona up until November last year and now I got two in a row. It’s beyond magical. You don’t know if your last win is your last win. I’m going to go out on a limb and say this isn’t our last win. The Infinite Hero team has been amazing. We were top two every run in qualifying, except for the first round. Our car was just absolutely amazing. As a driver, you don’t want to limp your way into the winner’s circle. It was awesome for us.”

Coughlin Defeats Line to Kick-Off Final Pro Stock Season for Both Drivers

Coughlin kicked off his “Breaking Barriers 2020” retirement tour with a bang, taking home the event win with a 6.522-second pass at 210.80. Earlier in the weekend, Coughlin announced that he would be stepping down from professional Pro Stock racing at the conclusion of the 2020 season. He beat out Jason Line for the event win, who also announced that 2020 would be his final professional season.

Coughlin defeated Joey Grose, Chris McGaha, and Kenny Delco to advance to the final round at the 2020 Winternationals. Sunday’s win broke Coughlin’s 20-year win drought at the race, bringing him his 64th career Pro Stock win, placing him fourth on the all-time list.

“It was quite a day. It started on Friday honestly, we’ll just call it quite a weekend,” Coughlin said. “Ricky Jones and Richard Freeman, the whole Elite team did a fantastic job over the winter. Today’s race was outstanding. I can’t recall a time in my 20-plus-year career in Pro Stock that I was low for each and every one of the sessions and won the race. That’s quite a testament to the team. Hopefully it’s something we can hold on to for a little bit. It looks like we have a bit of a performance advantage here at Pomona and we were able to capitalize on it.”

The Mello Yello Drag Racing Series continues on February 21-23 at the NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass.

Sunday’s race was the first of 24 slated for the 2020 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.

NHRA Pro Stock Point Standings

  1.  Jeg Coughlin           130   
2. Jason Line 94
3. Erica Enders 80
4. Kenny Delco 77
5. Matt Hartford 52

NHRA Funny Car Point Standings

  1.  Jack Beckman           126  
2. John Force 94
3. Matt Hagan 86
4. Alexis DeJoria 67
5. Robert Hight 61

NHRA Top Fuel Point Standings

  1.  Doug Kalitta           117
2. Austin Prock 99
3. Brittany Force 87
4. Leah Pruett 80
5. Clay Millican 53
Drag Race Central and NHRA contributed to this report.
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