SpeedZone Magazine exclusive coverage of the 44th K & N Filters Winternationals is here.
Alcohol cars are covered here
by Dean Murdoch (Photos courtesy Jim Kelso, Lori Kelso, Bill Jeffery, Joel Gelfand and RJ Enerprises and are copy right speedzonemagazine.com).
Winternationals "Part Deux" and the action was Hot!!
Sunday Feb. 29, 2004 What a day for the fans and new sponsors as the second try at running the 44th Winternational goes off without a threat of rain all three days. The only delays were the odd litter box deposit (sand trap) and a few oil downs. There were a number of big wheelstands and a couple dances with the walls thrown in as well, so all that made it a very exciting start to the 2004 POWERade season. Top Fuel had big numbers thrown up on the boards almost at will, as all four winners in the second round of elimination's ran 4.40's. The biggest noise in round one was Cory Mac's huge wheelstand and pedal job (below), which was a thing of beauty and Tony Schumacher's 4.451/332 first round win. The second round winners and semi final combatants had the usual suspects and a couple surprises. First, the two surprises as Brandon Bernstein ran in the 5.40's for the first time with a great 4.487/331 lap in defeat of Clay Millican. David Grubnic ran an awesome 4.492/321 and blasted a very game 4.52 by Darrell Russell. The two expected 4.40 passes came from Tony Schumacher who ran a great 4.486/331 in dispatching David Baca and finally, Doug Kalitta ran a 4.482/330 and defeated the "champ" Larry Dixon who went 5.59. Dick, your fans are waiting for a 4.40!! The semi final round was not as close as the 1/4's and Tony Schumacher had a tenth and a half at the finish line with his 4.47 over Bernstein's 4.62. Doug Kalitta blasted his team mate David Grubnic with a slowing 4.51/284 compared to Grubnics troubled 5.28. Kalitta's run was 4.02/279 to half track which would of been in the 4.44 range at 334 if the belt did not spit off around 900 feet. The final round had the two favorites lined up against each other and it like the Alcohol finals ended up being a single when Doug Kalitta had his car shut off when it was eating itself up after backing up form the burnout. Tony went on to a soft early shutoff 4.65/243 mph win. Notes: Alot can be said for what will possibly be the most competitive Top Fuel season in recent memory. The whole Kalitta three car team will be a threat. Tony Shoe, Brandon with his first 4.40, Larry Dixon, and Darrell Russell. Cory Mac, Clay Millican and David Baca will also make a final or two. This will be a season to be remembered for a long time, I hope Goodyear is working on more Top Fuel tire technology, because they are going to need it.
1. Tony Schumacher 117
Funny Car was a dream weekend for both a new sponsor and basically a newly formed team. The start to the season a month ago in testing did not start off to promising. In fact, testing for the Jerry Toliver "Schick Quatro" Funny Car was almost embarrassing. They made possibly only two half way decent runs out of 30-40 attempts down the track. And qualifying was no screaming hell for the team as well, as it took a last ditch 4.95 to squeak into the #15 spot. From there, Toliver improved a bunch to a 4.88 in his first round win over Eric Medlen, then he won when Cory Lee red light. Hiis semi was a sight to behold, as Jerry rocketed to a 4.73/328 to crush Del Worsham. On the other side of the ladder, John Force, Whit Bazemore, Gary Scelzi and Gary Densham were all set to battle, meaning the race on this side of the ladder would be more of a war, and the question as to whether the winner on this side would have anything left for the final was as much a question as who the winner would be itself. Force, Densham, Scelzi and Bazemore all won their opening round contest and guess what, the team-mates got to face each other in the second session. What would team orders be, or would their even be orders. If there were orders, would it be obvious? Well it was answered tenfold. The Force/Densham race was a real classic, as John left first by 3/100ths and and was leading until the 1000 foot mark, when Densham with Prock-Power under the hood, snuck past his boss with a great 4.75 to 4.78 victory, that had the fans going wild. The other race was not quite as quick but it was almost as close, when Gary Scelzi left 1/100ths behind Bazemore but caught him, and won with a 4.80 to a losing 4.88. That put rivals Densham and Scelzi in the semi finals, and they both left with identical .073 rt's, but the "forcepower" built by Jimmy Prock and "Team Force" proved too much and Densham went on to a 4.77/326 win over a pedalling 5.00/323 shot by the Neff tuned "Oakley Hemi". The final was set, but could a guy returning to the class with a new team and sponsor put together a repeat of their semi final stunner. A resounding yes was the answer as Toliver ran strong 4.82/319 to Densham's surprisingly slow 4.95 that had a whooping speed of 327. Densham must have pedaled it to run a number like that. It looks like there is a new player to play with the big dollar multi car teams. Flopper Notes: Toliver did not pick up the usual amount of points for the win as he was penalized for oil down infractions. He ended up with two oil downs and the second one cost him 500.00 plus 10 points. The class will be every bit as exciting as Top Fuel and possibly more so as the characters in the class will set it apart from any other category in NHRA drag racing. There could easily be a soap opera for the class, "How the Oil and Nitro Turns", or how about, "The Rookie and the Champ", or maybe even "Redemption will not be a close Shave". You get my drift don't you, the 2004 season is one that has more possible scenarios than a bracket race with three buy backs.
1. Jerry Toliver 101
Pro Stock looks alot like same 'ole same 'ole, even with the new beadlocks and all the percieved troubles teams had in testing. The biggest whiner in that deal was Greg Anderson and my educated guess in his complaints was him playing poker with the competition. Maybe his though process was having the teams coming into the first race of the year with a bit more confidence then they left Pomona at the 2003 Finals. Well one run down the track proved the Ken Black "Vegas Construction" team was no farther behind and probably farther ahead of the pack. Greg Anderson and Jason Line will be the most formatible duo act in Pro Stock for years to come if they come up with performance like this week in and week out. Now, I am not conceeding the championship already, but the team is coming in to the 2004 season to prove a point, that 2003 was not an aboration, every run down the track Greg was the quickest and fastest competitor. Scary isn't it? Not much to say about the eliminations in Pro Stock other than Jason Line red lit his chance away in round one from facing his team mate in the final. Warren and Kurt Johnson were supposed to be the team with the edge when it comes to testing the beadlocks since Warren has run them on and off (in testing mostly) for 10 years. Well GM backed team is one of the elite, but in this day and age of Pro Stock dominance being as little as 1/100ths of a second, that team has a couple hun to find still. Basically every but the Ken Black team is playing in the "B" main. For those that don't know already Greg Anderson won the event with an average performance advantage of .07 each round. Only one was less and that was the final when Warren Johnson ran a 6.76 to Greg's 6.71. The semi finalists were basically true to qualifying form, as #1 Greg Anderson defeated #4 Larry Morgan and #6 Warren Johnson defeated #2 Kurt Johnson. The two higher qualified driver than Warren both red lid their chance away in round one.
1. Greg Anderson 118
Saturday Feb.28, 2004 Saturday qualifying for Top Fuel had everything; big speeds, fast times , huge wheelstands, big explosions and crashes. If the fans wanted excitement, they got it! The noon session was highlighted (or lowlighted depending on your poison) by Tony Shoe's 4.52/329 blast and Brandon Bernstein's 4.559. The low lights were Bob Hallock's big bang and subsequent scraping of the the wall two or three times, and then David Baca feeling thePomona bite, as he wheelstood the 300 incher right off the starting line, and bent up the front end. The session ended with a 4.86 bump spot held down by Scott Palmer that would have been at least a tenth quicker had he not clicked it early, as proven by a slow 227 mph speed. The final session from the kings of the sport proved to be as exciting than the earlier one. Palmer was first up, and his early shutoff 5.863 was evident that he had more up his sleeve. He did and alot more than even he wanted. Palmer left real hard and was on perhaps a 4.50 pass when the engine let go around 1100 feet. when it let goes into a huge fireball, it shredded the rear left tire sending Palmer for the ride of his short Top Fuel life. He managed to get the car under control as he straddled the center line coming to a halt and getting a 4.633/314 time slip a great job for the Rob Flynn tuned machine. From there, the hits just kept on coming, as Herbert and Baca both picked up over a half tenth to step into the mid 4.50's. The next couple pair included David Grubnic who went a career best 4.521 to sit #3, then Clay Millican blasted his way to 4.510 top sit at the top, for now. Brandon was beside Millican and he went 4.532 to get to the top half. Dixon and Doug Kalitta were next and we got the first 4.40 of the ear. No, it wasn't from Dixon, as he had yet to run a 4.40 under LaHaie's tutelage, but it was Doug Kalitta who blasted out a 4.484/329.99. Awesome! The final pair was Schumacher and Russell. Tony wanted the #1 back for sure and he had the crew chief to do it, in Alan Johnson. Wayne Dupuy was no slouch either as Russell screw turner, but could that team get their first 4.40 pass. Tony and the "Army of One" got a 4.40 pass but it wasn't the #1 they were looking for. Tony went 4.495/330.63 and Russell improved to a 4.516 for his second career best of this, his fourth season in Top Fuel.
In Funny Car, the creme rose to the top, and the rookie stayed within reach of the boss, as qualifying ended in a flurry of tire smokers and quick passes. Team Force all ended up in the top half of the ladder, and the "boss" showed everyone who's boss when he ripped off a 4.746/324.36. Eric Medlen ran another '70, as he improved to a 4.783 from his earlier 4.792. Sitting #3 is Tim Wilkerson (left) with a 1200ft 4.808, that would have been a couple hundredths quicker, as proven by a slow 287mph speed. Scelzi move up to 4.814 to sit #4, just ahead of his team mate Whit Bazemore who could not better his earlier 4.821. Worsham improved to a 4.835 to get lane choice and the #6 position. Cory Lee and Gary Densham nail down the final two top half positions. Notables include Jerry Toliver getting in the field with a 4.952 and Cruz Pedregon sitting on the bump with a 4.954. (Right, Force goes to the top by 4/100ths.)
Stock saw another day for Greg Anderson to shine as he
continues to have a few hun on the field. His final lap of the day
was not better than his earlier back breaking 6.713 in the noon session,
but the 6.731 was quicker by over .05 than the next quickest. WJ turned
in the second quickest pass of the final round but the 6.784 was way
off Anderson Kurt Johnson turned in a great run in the first Saturday
qualifying round when he went 6.749 (which again was .036 slower than
Greg). Jason Line held onto #3 with his earlier 6.756. Morgan kept
up his late season serge form 03 with a strong 6.765. One of the big
surprise's was Potato man JR. Carr who ripped off a top half 6.768
blast. Four Dodges are in the field
and NO FORDS for some reason. Come on Ford give up some of Force's
money and put it into Hurley's deal. The notables not in Sunday's
play day, include V. Gaines, Ron Krisher, Bruce Allen, Steve Johns,
Mark Whisnant, Shaun Carlson Troy Coughlin and nine others..
Pro Stock 1. Greg
Anderson Vegas General Construction Gr 6.713 206.10
Funny Car 1. John
Force Castrol GTX Mustang 4.746 324.36
Medlen sits #2. Bazemore is #5
Jerry Toliver gets the rookie in round one
Scelzi is #4 qualifier and takes on Terry Haddock
Phil Burkart takes on Densham in round one.
Cruz is up against the man interested in "Redemption", John Force.
The non-qualifiers includes Bartone, Wyatt, Downing, Head, Gilbertson, Neese, and Jackson
The non qualifiers were Strasburg, Hallock and Chrisman
The "Prince' is in the top half and takes on Cory Mac
Scott Kalitta run in the 50's but is still on the bottom half of the ladder. He faces Baca in round one.
Hallocks very nice Blue Paint job goes up in flames.
John Smith takes on Darrell Russell who made three
laps in the low 4.50's
Friday Feb. 27, 2004 The rescheduling of the Winternationals is always an inconvenience for all parties involved. The teams are looking at an extra $10,000 bill or more for all the flights, hotels food fuel etc. The fans, particularly the one out of town, are the ones that are really put out. I doubt any that booked flights from out of state will be returning, so expect to see a week crowd for this the second weekend for the 44 and a half annual Winternationals. Luckily the weather is looking pretty good, and Friday was run as per schedule. Corrected altitude on Friday was in the 1500 to 2000 foot range, so there was not an expectation of world beating numbers particularly on a track that has had so much moisture on it. But the able track technicians should have prepped a sticky surface (left, Jim Head has struggled so far). The sportsman classes got in their final time trial and qualifying hits, and the Alcohol cars (both TAD and TAFC) both had a change at the top, and the numbers were pretty good, so their was expectations that the fuel cars and possibly the naturally aspirated Factory Hot Rods (Pro Stock for you technically challenged) would run quicker than the corrected air said they would.
Pro Stock extra photo highlights are here
Pro Stock was up first and the unqualified Kurt Johnson was in the first group down track. Kurt went 6.79/203 to sit in the top half, Jeg Couglin ran a 6.83 to get in (barely), Allen Johnson improved and Steve Johns also moved up in the field. None of the other qualified cars improved except, wait for it, the Pro Stock duo act of Greg Anderson and rookie Jason Line. Anderson went 6.730 and Line moved into the #2 spot with a 6.756. Ya Greg, the new beadlocks have proved to be a tough nut to crack for your team. Good poker face is all I can say.
(above, Mike Corvo is unqualified after a 6.847 best)
Here is the top sixteen after round two of qualifying.
1. Greg Anderson Vegas General Construction Gr 6.730
Notables outdside the field include Ron Krisher, Troy Coughlin and V.Gaines
Anderson again is on top. Morgan in the far lane is #3.
Jason Line got to the finish line first and quicker than WJ.
Jeggie is on the bump after two.
Funny Car photo highlights are here
Funny Car was next up and the only surprise was in the "Force camp". John sat outside the field after last weeks lone run, and the 'Rookie' Eric Medlen was #1! It was sure to change this weekend as the expectations were they would get all three hits in. The new teams, the part time players and the unqualified were first on tap, and the first couple to step it up were Gary Scelzi and Bob Bode. They both stopped the timers in the fours, with Bode going 4.921 and Scelzi (you got a Hemi in that thing?) running a 4.98. Force was next to jump up and he went top the top wrung with a 4.83/318. Bazemore ran a four, Worsham jumped into the 4.80's, Tony P ran his first four as a team owner/driver with a 4.99 and Ron Capps looked like a Roman candle (again) but still went 4.93. An apt new name for the new Chevy's should maybe be "Monte Charcoal". Hopefully his season is not like the last couple. He is really one of the great characters and ambassadors for the class. TJ, Haddock, Wilkerson and Cruzer all improved as well, making it look like it will be a solid 4 second field. Last up was Eric Medlen and Cory Lee the top two from round one last week. Eric fired a shot back to his boss and ran a 4.79/3219 to step over top the boss (again) while Cory clicked it early. The field after two sessions is:
(Top, Jack Wyatt is on the bump. Left, Ron Capps shown here from last Thursday session was not on fire. Yesterday, unfortunately he was)
1. Eric Medlen Castrol Syntec Mustang 4.792 319.07
Gary Denshamhas been solid so far.
Eric is 'THE' man so far.
John and Jerry battle much like they did a couple years ago. Force sits #2 and Toliver is #17.
Top Fuel photo highlights are here
Top Fuel saw much the same as the fuel coupes, where a number of teams improved and all the usual suspects were in the field. Cory Mac who was shut off last Thursday was first down track and he went to the top half with a strong 4.605/319 in the Carrier Boyz Top Fueler. The others showing the biggest improvements were Scott Kalitta with a 4.57 (from a 4.77 last week), David Baca 4.603 (from a 4.7323 last week) and Brady Kalivoda who went 4.69 (from a 12 something last week). Darrell Russell is showing the Joe Amato team will be a strong contender as he went 4.522 to back up his 4.520 #2 qualifying shot from last week. Leading the pack is Tony Schumacher still is on top after his week #1 4.514. He went 4.57 on Friday. Here is the field after Friday.
1. Tony Schumacher U.S. Army Dragster 4.514 326.32
Steve Chrisman, Bob Hallock and Scott Palmer are outside the field heading into Saturday.
Doug Kalitta sits in the top half after two.
#'s 1 and 2 battle for the second time in qualifying
Bob Hallock is outside after two rounds. Look for him to step up.
Saturday Feb.21, 2004
Friday Feb. 20, 2004 Friday is washed out by you know what (and it isn't the curfew)
A couple shots though courtesy of RJ Enterprises and Jim Kelso.
This should brighten your day, promo for the March Meet.
Terry Morrow applying some decals to Toliver's very nice clean (shaven) ride.
Team Force is parked in the Alky pits because Ashley wasn't allowed with the Pros.
Jim Head and Lion's Gate entertainment are partnered up for 2004 with "Terminator2" the promotion to start the season.
Eric Medlen leads Funny Car after one session with a great 4.840 in the first round of qualifying. Two other drrivers ran an .84 as well, and they are Cory Lee and Gary Densham. Force is out side the field right now in the #17 position.
Cruz Pedregon and Monte Carlo driver Tommy Johnson Jr. are both in ther top half after one round
Jerry Toliver's new Toyota flying the Schick banner, peddled the flopper quattro times in his first session. (just kidding)
Capps and the Skoal (Ponta Carlo) Monte Carlo is #10.
Gary Scelzi is #16 after one round.
Tony Bartone and Kieth Jackson are both outside the field after one round.
In Top Fuel, Tony Schumacher is #1 after turning in a 4.514 besting Darrell Russell's career best 4.520.
Doug Herbert ran a solid 4.62 in round one. Where's the "Win this car banner", Dougie?
David Baca and Cory Mac face off. Baca's in and Cory isn't.
Cory will be a top 7 player this year.
Doug Kalitta is #3 with a great 4.53 after round one.
Russell and blasted his way to his career best 4.52.
Brady Kalivoda and Steve Christman at the330 clocks.
Pro Stock started off the way 2003 left off, with Greg Anderson leading the pack, after running a 6.743. A Dodge is #2 with a surprising 6.76 run by Larry Morgan.
Greg Anderson Far lane showed his much talked about displeasure with the beadlocks was alot of smoke and mirrors as he is #1 after session #1. Kurt Johnson is not in the field after getting loose in the first session
Photo Highlights from day one of the 44th Winternationals:
WJ is #3 and Jeggie is not in after one session.
Mike Edwards and Allen Johnson are both in the middle bottom half of the pack after round one
Barry Grant one of the extensive pre season testing Pro Stock drivers, got loose and shut off early Thursday
Ron Krisher (far Lane) and Bruce Allen are both in the bottom half on session #1.
Jerry Hass is not in so far.
Jan. 18, 2004 K&N FILTERS WINTERNATIONALS Fact sheet:
WHAT: 44th annual K&N Filters Winternationals, the first of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series. Professional competitors in three categories earn points leading to 2004 NHRA POWERade championships.
Sportsman competitors in six categories earn points leading to 2004 NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series championships.
WHERE: Pomona Raceway, Pomona, Calif. Track is located off I-10 at Fairplex Drive. Go north on Fairplex drive to the Fairplex.
WHEN: Thursday through Sunday, Feb. 19-22.
PURSE: Cash and contingency awards of more than $2 million.
SCHEDULE: THURSDAY, Feb. 19 -- Qualifying and sportsman time trials,
8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
FRIDAY, Feb. 20 -- Qualifying and sportsman eliminations, 8 a.m.
to 7 p.m.
SATURDAY, Feb. 21 -- Sportsman eliminations and qualifying, 8 a.m.
to 6 p.m.
SUNDAY, Feb. 22 -- Pre-race ceremonies, 10 a.m.
TELEVISION Saturday, Feb. 21, ESPN2 will televise two hours of qualifying
highlights at 10 p.m. (ET)