by Kay Presto, www.carsandcompetition.com
November 11, 2015
Two NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing World Series titles were decided at Las Vegas Motor Speedway last weekend, but there will still be plenty of fireworks at the NHRA Auto Club Finals at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, California this weekend, as the final shootout for the World Title “Wally” Trophy will still be battled in the Funny Car and Pro Stock classes.
Antron Brown captured his second title during the Las Vegas run, and Erica Enders-Stevens took home her second consecutive title in Pro Stock, the first woman in NHRA history to claim that record.
Enders-Stevens began competing in the Pro Stock category in 2005 and earned her first career win in the category in 2012. She now has 21 victories and trails Angelle Sampey as the all-time winningest female driver in NHRA.
But both Del Worsham and Jack Beckman will be racing hard to take home the title in Funny Car, and there is almost a three-way contest in the Pro Stock Motorcycle class.
Worsham is just 38 points ahead of Beckman, but Beckman does not plan to lie down in this battle and has been racing hard all season, setting track records of his own, on his way to the finals. Worsham, the 2011 Top Fuel world champion, is seeking his first Funny Car world championship. The difference between going for that championship, and this one, said Worsham, is that he did not go into the Top Fuel championship battle in the lead, as he is this time.
Four-time world champion Andrew Hines currently leads in Pro Stock Motorcycle, with Jerry Savoie hot on his tail just 46 slim points behind. Fans can’t count out Eddie Krawiec, a mere 83 points behind Hines. A simple red light at the Christmas tree, as happened to Savoie at Las Vegas, or motorcycle malfunction, can change that entire story in just one round. “I’m trying to not put any pressure on myself,” said the 32-year-old Hines, who would be the youngest competitor in NHRA history to claim five world titles. “I feel like I have a good Harley and I just need to go out and try to do my job. The team is doing a good job and I’m just trying to be consistent. If I get a fifth (championship) that would be fantastic, but I’m trying to treat it like any other race.’
Although the Top Fuel title has been decided, there are still five drivers who will be chafing at the bit to claim that Auto Club Finals trophy which is up for grabs.
Tony Schumacher currently tops that field with 2426 points, but young Larry Dixon is breathing down Schumacher’s neck, just 54 points behind. Richie Crampton, third, and fourth-place Brittany Force, still looking for her first final-round victory, can shake up those standings with four powerful runs on Sunday.
So don’t close your bets just yet, it’s anyone’s guess who will win those four hard-fought classes in the final eliminations.