2018 NHRA Auto Club FInals Blog

One of my favorite events of the year in the Auto Club FInals in Pomona, CA. Not only is it a chance to see my favorite sport the NHRA Mello Yello drag racing series in person but for several years it has been a traditional vacation for me and my buddy after a long hot Arizona summer. We both had long and busy summer and were very much looking forward to this weekend. 

Another reason I like the NHRA Finals is because it is the final race of the season and it is always filled with memorable and historical moments along with the teams giving it everything they have before a long and cold off season. 

This is how my friend Anthony Plescia spent most of the drive from Phoenix

Adam Emmer' 92 Cutlass Ciera

As always I love to be in the stands bright and early for Stock & Super Stock. One car that caught my eye was this beautiful 92' Oldsmobile Ciera driven by Adam Emmer. The reason I love this car is because it is very similar to my first car a 89' Olds Cutlass Ciera

Dan Fletcher

Another favorite because Im a sucker for first gen Camaros is Dan Fletcher's 1969 Camaro which is the winningest single car in NHRA history

Ryan Oheler & Karen Stoffer

Late in the morning came the first pro qualifying session of the weekend starting with the Pro Stock Bikes. This is the only chance I usually get to see them as they dont run in Phoenix 

Karen Stoffer vs. Ryan Oheler

Joey Gladstone

Joey Gladstone

Alan Pruseinsky

Alan Prusiensky is his Adams family wrapped Dodge Dart. Several pro stock teams usually "dress" their cars up for Halloween at the Vegas race and they usually leave those wraps on for the final race

Bo Butner

Defending World Champion Bo Butner in his Back to the future theme. 

Jeg Coughlin & Tanner Gray

Jeg Coughlin & 2018 World Champion Tanner Gray

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In the second pair of funny car Terry Haddock was racing Jeff Diehl when he and small explosion and big fire in the shutdown area.

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The charred out funny car body of Terry Haddock. Unfortunately for Terry this was a brand new body for him and as a small buck racer it is a tough blow for his team

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Shawn Langdon vs John Force

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Tim Wlkerson

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Leah Pritchett vs Tony Schumacher

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Clay Millican

For the second pro session at Pomona I always head to the west grandstands because not only is the afternoon light killer but the stands are closer to the track than any other racetrack I have been to. The rumble felt from the nitro cars especially that close is indescribable. 

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Scotty Pollacheck vs LE Tonglet in the 2nd qualifying session

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Eddie Kraweic vs. Jerry Savoie

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Pro stock independent Tom Huggins

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One thing I like to do is slow the shutter speed and get nice blurred shots on the burnouts like this shot with Matt Hartford

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Chris McGaha burning out for his 2nd qualifying run

The crew for Robert Hight pushing his car into the burnout box

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Former World Champions Robert Hight & Ron Capps

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Jeff Arend & Jonnie Lindberg

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16X Champion John Force on a burnout

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Two longtime rivals in funny car Cruz Pedregon & John Force

Funny Car crew chiefs Dean "Guido" Antonelli for Jack Beckman & Dickie Venables for Matt Hagan

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2018 Funny Car champion JR Todd

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Another reason why I like this spot at the starting line is that when it gets dark there is pretty much no light anywhere else down track.

Jim Campbell vs JR Todd

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I Moved up to the top of the stands for Top Fuel to get the whole car in the shots

Here is Kalitta racing teammates Doug Kalitta & Richie Crampton

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Clay Millican & 2017 Champion Brittany Force

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Scott Palmer vs. Mike Salinas in the Tom "Mongoose" McEwen tribute dragster

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3X World Champion Antron Brown vs Billy Torrence

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In the final pair on Friday night Leah Pritchett would run the 3rd quickest run of all time which was stunning because the NHRA changed track prep a few races in to slow the cars down about 10% Her run was nearly a tenth quicker than anyone had run leading up to this run

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Saturday morning would start off with final qualifying for Top Alcohol Dragster

This is Don St. Arnaud

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Krista Baldwin, the grand daugther of the legend Chris Karamesines

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Garrett Bateman & Dan Mercier 

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Pro Stock Motorcycle racer Angie Smith

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Hector Arana Jr.

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Vincent Nobile & Drew Skillman

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2018 Champion Tanner Gray & 3X Champion Jason Line

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Multi time champions Erica Enders-Stevens & Jeg Coughlin

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Brittany Force & Blake Alexander

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Longtime independent race Bob Bode who ran career best numbers all weekend

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Jonnie Lindberg would end his 3rd qualifying run with a small fire. 

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Luckily for Jonnie it would not be as bad as Terry Haddock's the previous day and he was able to come back for the final qualifying session

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JR Todd & Tim Wilkerson

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Tommy Johnson Jr. vs Jack Beckman

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For the final session I once again headed over to the other side. I sat in the front row to get low frontal shots which are some of my favorite.

Here is Katie Sullivan on her family bike

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Angie Smith

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Hector Arana Jr.

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Drew Skillman

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Kenny Delco

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East coast racer Audrey Grant who's team towed all the way from Pennsylvania in a dually pickup and small trailer. 

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Scott Palmer who made a career best run on this pass

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At this point the light was gone and since I could not move to where I was on Friday I was not going to get any "good" shots so my goal was to get interesting shots

Here is Doug Kalitta, I like how the portable lighting back lights the car

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It also helps silhouette everything but the side of the racecar

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FInal run of the night was of Jack Beckman and I got a decent flames up shot

This would end Saturday qualifying. While I was there for final eliminations on Sunday my card containing Sunday's photos was somehow damaged on the way back to Phoenix. While I am bummed I lost some good photos I did learn the value of backing up your work and proper transport of your memory cards so hopefully it will not happen again.