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AUTO RACING

Major drag-racing titles on the line at NHRA's season-ending event

A champion will be determined in top fuel and funny cars this weekend at Pomona. Pro stock motorcycle crown also is up for grabs.

November 08, 2011|By Jim Peltz
  • Spencer Massey celebrates his fourth top fuel victory of the season at the Auto-Plus NHRA Nationals in Mohnton, Pa., on Oct. 3. Massey is looking to claim the top fuel title this weekend in Pomona.
Spencer Massey celebrates his fourth top fuel victory of the season at the… (Marc Gewertz / Associated…)

Several drivers are vying to win the championships in drag racing's two leading classes, top fuel and funny cars, as the NHRA holds its season-ending event this weekend in Pomona.

The NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway opens Thursday with the first of three days of qualifying rounds, followed by final eliminations Sunday.

In the top-fuel class of the National Hot Rod Assn.'s Full Throttle Series, Spencer Massey of Don Schumacher Racing leads by just two points over Chino Hills' Del Worsham of the Al-Anabi Racing team.

Massey teammate Antron Brown is 14 points behind and Worsham teammate Larry Dixon, a three-time title winner and the reigning top-fuel champion, is 44 points back.

Worsham has won a series-high seven races this season, including the most recent event in Las Vegas, while Brown has six victories and Massey four. To hear Worsham tell it, winning the championship will require one more victory in the Finals.

"I believe when it's all said and done, I'm going to have to win in Pomona," he said. "The competition out there is awful tough."

In funny cars, which like top-fuel dragsters reach speeds of 300 mph in less than five seconds, Matt Hagan leads by one point over Jack Beckman, his Schumacher teammate.

Two-time champion Cruz Pedregon is 26 points behind and Mike Neff, who drives for the team run by 15-time funny car champion John Force, trails by 34 points.

Unlike the powerhouse multi-car teams of Schumacher and Force, the 48-year-old Pedregon races only his own Toyota dragster.

"Somewhere along the line I'm probably at a disadvantage" to those teams, Pedregon said, but he added: "The fact that we're competing for a championship with a one-car team, I think it's phenomenal. My sponsors want me to win just like the other guys."

In the pro stock category, Jason Line already has clinched the championship, his second. But the title in pro stock motorcycle also remains up for grabs, with 2008 champion Eddie Krawiec leading rookie Hector Arana Jr. by 69 points.

The Glendora-based NHRA, celebrating its 60th anniversary, also plans several special events this weekend including autograph sessions with Force and other drivers and a car show featuring many of Force's dragsters over the years.

Force, 62, won his 15th title in dramatic fashion at the Finals a year ago, but this season he finished well behind the point leaders.

On Friday, Veteran's Day, the series will offer free general-admission tickets to those providing proof of active or retired military status. Children 12 and under also can obtain free tickets each of the four days when accompanied by a paying adult.

james.peltz@latimes.com

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