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Lucas, Hight, Line Win at Winternationals

Info Manager | , RacinToday.com Sunday, February 27 2011

Robert Hight started the 2011 NHRA season with a victory in the Winternationals Sunday. (File photo courtesy of the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series)

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Morgan Lucas defeated Shawn Langdon in a matchup of former high school classmates in the Top Fuel final Sunday at the season-opening Kragen O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals presented by Valvoline at historic Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, Calif.

The other winners of the first of 22 races in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series were Robert Hight (Funny Car) and Jason Line (Pro Stock).

Lucas powered to a performance of 3.835 seconds at 316.38 mph in his GEICO Powersports/Lucas Oil dragster and was too much for Langdon, whose Lucas Oil/Speedco dragster lost traction for a moment and slowed to a 4.047 at 313.73. The two Lucas Oil Racing teammates graduated in 2001 from Jurupa Valley High School in nearby Mira Loma, Calif.

“I’ve never been in the points lead in Top Fuel before, and I don’t really even know how to feel right now,” said Lucas of his fourth career win and first since Oct. 2009. “Getting to race my teammate

Shawn Langdon fell to teammate Morgan Lucas on Sunday. (File photo courtesy of the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series)

Shawn, who I went to high school with, this is just a dream come true, it really is. We were really fortunate in 2009 to get three wins, then we went on a big drought last year in 2010. I think that is one of those things that makes you appreciate success. I think as a team we’re really going to appreciate this day and just enjoy it because, you know what, who knows when the next one is going to happen.”

Lucas qualified ninth and defeated Brandon Bernstein, Terry McMillen and Del Worsham to advance to the final. Lucas said winning one of NHRA’s “majors” is a big deal for him.

“The thing about it is this is probably one of the most special races there is,” Lucas said. “In my eyes, it’s here, Gainesville, Indy, and the Finals. Those are the races that if you’re going to win one, those are the ones you want to win, and maybe a little, in a selfish way, the Lucas Oil Nationals in Brainerd just because of family.”

In Funny Car, Hight used a quicker reaction time to defeat 2010 Full Throttle Series runner-up Matt Hagan in a close final round. Hight powered his Auto Club Ford Mustang to a 4.056 at 312.71 to edge Hagan’s DieHard Dodge Charger at the finish line, which posted a quicker, but losing performance of 4.023 at 310.20. It is Hight’s 19th career win and his third Winternationals victory.

“To win the Winternationals, the first race of the year, at Auto Club Raceway is just awesome,” Hight said. “The biggest deal for me is how long it’s been since we won, even a round. It goes clear back to

Matt Hagan came up short on Sunday.

Brainerd last year. What’s really important to me is this is the fourth year in a row that my guys have stayed together, the complete team 100 percent of them, and that makes it so easy to get out here and do what you know how to do. And it makes it that much more special when you win because you pull together, you stay together. You become a family, and that’s what makes these times so special.”

To get the victory, Hight’s Auto Club Mustang got progressively quicker in each round, starting with a 4.121 to outrun Bob Tasca in the first round and then finishing with the 4.056 to hold off Hagan in the final.

“You look at the class, it ain’t that easy to get wins,” Hight said. “Look at the guys I had to beat today: Bob Tasca; John Force, the 15-time champ; [Ron] Capps; Hagan. It’s not that easy. If we would have slipped up just a little in the final, we would have been dust.”

In Pro Stock, Line defeated Greg Stanfield to win for the 22nd time in his career and second time at this race. Line claimed his second win at this event with a run of 6.529 at 211.89 in his Summit Racing Pontiac GXP, while Stanfield trailed with a 6.595 at 210.70 in his Safety Sentry GXP.

“You can’t start any better, I guess,” Line said. “I’ve said before the year started that I wanted to win all the races, and if you want to win them all, you have to win the first one. It was kind of a strange weekend with the weather and everything else, but it was a great weekend, a great way to finish it. It feels awful good to win here, that’s for sure. It’s been kind of another strange offseason for us, so to start this way feels good.”

Line, who qualified 11th, advanced to the final by beating V. Gaines, Vincent Nobile and teammate Greg Anderson in the first three rounds.

“My confidence wasn’t that high (entering eliminations), but I kept thinking about Greg last year at Vegas and Dallas, where he qualified in the bottom half,” Line said. “I thought, ‘You know, if we can get down the right lane decent enough to win first round then we have a shot at it.’ We actually went .53 and .53 in the right lane. The car, I would say, it was phenomenal. It drove like a Cadillac today and not a Pontiac. It was pretty good.”

A back injury nearly kept Line out of the car last week.

“This was a strange week, both on and off the track,” said Line. “I came here after having back surgery four weeks ago having made only one pass in the race car, so I wasn’t sure how I would feel. On top of that, we’ve had to take both our children to the hospital to get stitches in the last week after they fell and cut themselves.

“As I go further into my career, I realize just how hard it is to win one of these races, and appreciate each one a little more. With everything that has gone on in the last few weeks, this win couldn’t have come at a better time. What a tremendous way to start the year.”

The NHRA Full Throttle Series continues March 10-13, in Gainesville, Fla. with the 42nd running of the Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway.

Final finish order (1-16) for professional categories at the 51st annual Kragen O’Reilly NHRA Winternationals presented by Valvoline at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona. The race is the first of 22 events in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series.

TOP FUEL:

1. Morgan Lucas; 2. Shawn Langdon; 3. Del Worsham; 4. Antron Brown; 5. Terry McMillen; 6. Spencer Massey; 7. Doug Kalitta; 8. Tony Schumacher; 9. Steve Torrence; 10. Troy Buff; 11. Mike Strasburg; 12. Larry Dixon; 13. T.J. Zizzo; 14. Brandon Bernstein; 15. Bob Vandergriff; 16. Ron August.

FUNNY CAR:

1. Robert Hight; 2. Matt Hagan; 3. Ron Capps; 4. Mike Neff; 5. John Force; 6. Jeff Arend; 7. Jim Head; 8. Cruz Pedregon; 9. Bob Tasca III; 10. Bob Bode; 11. Tim Wilkerson; 12. Paul Lee; 13. Tony Pedregon; 14. Gary Densham; 15. Jack Beckman; 16. Johnny Gray.

PRO STOCK:

1. Jason Line; 2. Greg Stanfield; 3. Ronnie Humphrey; 4. Greg Anderson; 5. Vincent Nobile; 6. Kurt Johnson; 7. Ron Krisher; 8. Erica Enders; 9. Allen Johnson; 10. Warren Johnson; 11. Rodger Brogdon; 12. Shane Gray; 13. V. Gaines; 14. Buddy Perkinson; 15. Richard Freeman; 16. Larry Morgan.

Sunday’s final results from the 51st annual Kragen O’Reilly NHRA Winternationals presented by Valvoline at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona. The race is the first of 22 in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series:

Top Fuel — Morgan Lucas, 3.835 seconds, 316.38 mph def. Shawn Langdon, 4.047 seconds, 313.73 mph.

Funny Car — Robert Hight, Ford Mustang, 4.056, 312.71 def. Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 4.023, 310.20.

Pro Stock — Jason Line, Pontiac GXP, 6.529, 211.89 def. Greg Stanfield, GXP, 6.595, 210.70.

Final round-by-round results from the 51st annual Kragen O’Reilly NHRA Winternationals presented by Valvoline at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, the first of 22 events in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series:

TOP FUEL:

ROUND ONE — Morgan Lucas, 4.254, 264.60 def. Brandon Bernstein, 7.201, 89.32; Doug Kalitta, 3.830, 318.92 def. Steve Torrence, 3.831, 317.42; Shawn Langdon, 4.010, 315.27 def. T.J. Zizzo, 4.574, 201.76; Del Worsham, 3.803, 322.11 def. Bob Vandergriff, 10.849, 74.77; Spencer Massey, 3.782, 324.83 def. Ron August, 17.900, 20.73; Tony Schumacher, 3.782, 327.03 def. Troy Buff, 3.912, 301.60; Antron Brown, 3.790, 325.37 def. Mike Strasburg, 3.976, 260.46; Terry McMillen, 4.188, 207.88 def. Larry Dixon, 4.486, 223.91;

QUARTERFINALS — Lucas, 3.858, 317.12 def. McMillen, 3.945, 266.32; Brown, 3.828, 320.66 def. Kalitta, 4.373, 190.70; Worsham, 3.810, 322.11 def. Massey, 4.106, 229.04; Langdon, 3.841, 309.63 def. Schumacher, 5.375, 127.59;

SEMIFINALS — Langdon, 4.033, 313.95 def. Brown, 4.427, 168.81; Lucas, 4.049, 220.80 def. Worsham, 4.291, 186.59;

FINAL — Lucas, 3.835, 316.38 def. Langdon, 4.047, 313.73.

FUNNY CAR:

ROUND ONE — Jim Head, Toyota Solara, 4.217, 282.72 def. Bob Bode, Chevy Impala, 4.265, 272.23; John Force, Ford Mustang, 4.115, 310.48 def. Paul Lee, Chevy Impala SS, 4.456, 202.03; Jeff Arend, Solara, 4.331, 235.39 def. Johnny Gray, Dodge Charger, 8.512, 79.41; Mike Neff, Mustang, 4.145, 301.47 def. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.381, 222.69; Cruz Pedregon, Solara, 4.573, 283.97 def. Tony Pedregon, Impala SS, 4.869, 231.68; Robert Hight, Mustang, 4.121, 305.84 def. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 4.216, 303.37; Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.060, 308.64 def. Gary Densham, Charger, 4.987, 158.02; Ron Capps, Charger, 4.134, 306.67 def. Jack Beckman, Charger, 5.355, 158.28;

QUARTERFINALS — Neff, 4.243, 293.28 def. Head, 4.231, 284.93; Hight, 4.107, 308.92 def. Force, 4.123, 309.70; Capps, 4.117, 306.40 def. C. Pedregon, 5.225, 157.85; Hagan, 4.106, 305.08 def. Arend, 4.161, 295.59;

SEMIFINALS — Hight, 4.070, 312.35 def. Capps, 4.079, 307.16; Hagan, 4.138, 302.14 def. Neff, 4.122, 306.95;

FINAL — Hight, 4.056, 312.71 def. Hagan, 4.023, 310.20.

PRO STOCK:

ROUND ONE — Ronnie Humphrey, Pontiac GXP, 11.738, 75.52 def. Warren Johnson, GXP, foul; Jason Line, GXP, 6.538, 211.89 def. V. Gaines, Dodge Avenger, 6.646, 210.24; Greg Stanfield, GXP, 6.566, 211.43 def. Buddy Perkinson, Ford Mustang, 7.664, 128.18; Ron Krisher, GXP, 6.533, 212.06 def. Rodger Brogdon, GXP, 6.576, 211.53; Greg Anderson, GXP, 6.540, 211.86 def. Shane Gray, GXP, 6.588, 209.69; Erica Enders, Chevy Cobalt, 6.545, 212.43 def. Richard Freeman, GXP, 8.088, 131.00; Vincent Nobile, Avenger, 6.561, 211.73 def. Allen Johnson, Avenger, 6.559, 212.39; Kurt Johnson, GXP, 6.585, 210.77 def. Larry Morgan, Mustang, foul;

QUARTERFINALS — Humphrey, 12.640, 69.36 def. Enders, broke; Anderson, 6.531, 211.00 def. K. Johnson, 6.587, 209.72; Line, 6.535, 211.66 def. Nobile, 6.555, 211.30; Stanfield, 6.561, 210.80 def. Krisher, 6.629, 210.90;

SEMIFINALS — Stanfield, 6.538, 210.90 def. Humphrey, 6.561, 211.56; Line, 6.532, 211.76 def. Anderson, 6.563, 211.10;

FINAL — Line, 6.529, 211.89 def. Stanfield, 6.595, 210.70.

Point standings (top 10) for NHRA professional categories following the 51st annual Kragen O’Reilly NHRA Winternationals presented by Valvoline at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, the first of 22 events in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series -

Top Fuel

1. Morgan Lucas, 114; 2. Shawn Langdon, 94; 3. Antron Brown, 82; 4. Del Worsham, 74; 5. Larry Dixon, 64; 6. Tony Schumacher, 58; 7. Spencer Massey, 57; 8. Doug Kalitta, 53; 9. Terry McMillen, 51; 10. (tie) Brandon Bernstein, 33 and Steve Torrence, 33.

Funny Car

1. Robert Hight, 118; 2. Matt Hagan, 93; 3. Mike Neff, 78; 4. Ron Capps, 73; 5. Cruz Pedregon, 63; 6. (tie) John Force, 55; Jim Head, 55; 8. Jeff Arend, 51; 9. Johnny Gray, 43; 10. (tie) Jack Beckman, 32, Bob Bode, 32, Gary Densham, 32, Paul Lee, 32 and Tony Pedregon, 32.

Pro Stock

1. Jason Line, 112; 2. Greg Stanfield, 95; 3. Greg Anderson, 80; 4. Ronnie Humphrey, 72; 5. Erica Enders, 61; 6. Ron Krisher, 57; 7. Kurt Johnson, 53; 8. Vincent Nobile, 51; 9. Allen Johnson, 38; 10. V. Gaines, 35.

Info Manager | , RacinToday.com Sunday, February 27 2011
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