NHRA Horses Vault from Season Gate

The 2012 drag racing season got it’s official start last weekend in Southern California as the 23-race NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing series kicked into season gear at fabled Pomona….

In what may prove to be a very telling early season indicator, hometown favorite John Force raced to his 134th career Funny Car victory during the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals presented by Super Start Batteries at historic Auto Club Raceway.  Spencer Massey (Top Fuel) and Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) also scored impressive wins during the season-opener.   

“It’s a great start,” Force said. “You really want to perform. I know all those other kids on our teams and others, like Cruz Pedregon, the Schumacher teams, [Tim] Wilkerson, and [Bob] Tasca, those guys are going to win races, and it was just nice to get a win under my belt. Those boys are bad out there. To make that top 10 is going to be tough. Somebody’s going to be left out, so I’m just going to keep fighting and keep my nose clean.

John Force scored his 134th career win to open the 2012 NHRA season

Force, 62, used a holeshot start to claim his sixth win at this event and 15th at this track with a performance of 4.080 seconds at 315.64 mph in his Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang. Runner-up Mike Neff finished in 4.036 at 316.82 in his Castrol GTX Mustang.

“Before the final, I said, ‘What are we going to do ‘Guido?’ (crew chief Dean Antonelli),” Force said. “He said, ‘We can’t race him the way we are, running .12 or .14. We’re going to have to go after it, and if it smokes the tires, we’ll go home.’ They were all over there, looking at the numbers, and it just went. It wasn’t quick enough to beat him. He was late, so I got the win. He told me something distracted him.”

In her much-publicized debut, Force’s 23-year-old daughter Courtney lost in the second round to Neff, while the elder Force defeated his daughter’s rookie rival, Alexis DeJoria, in a close first-round meeting. Force also beat Tim Wilkerson, and Gary Densham to reach the final round.’

John Force teamate Mike Neff notched both low ET & Top speed enroute to a R/UP finish.

Massey, who finished second in the points standings last year, opened the new season in first place by outrunning Antron Brown in the final round to take his seventh career Top Fuel victory and first at Pomona. Massey posted a 3.750 at 325.77 in his FRAM/Prestone dragster to hold off Brown’s charging Matco Tools dragster, which trailed with a 3.794 at 320.43.

“Coming up a little short and ending up in second place last year made us that much more hungry and motivated to win a championship, so we focused this winter and acted like there wasn’t an offseason,” said Massey, who beat Steve Faria, Clay Millican and Tony Schumacher in early rounds.

Spencer Massey was truly dominating while winning in Top Fuel

“It shows that they know what it takes to get the car down the racetrack,” Massey continued. “After the second round, we didn’t have any computer data, and (crew chiefs) Phil (Shuler) and Todd (Okuhara) tuned that thing like it was a Top Fuel car from 1968. They looked at the plugs, looked at the bearings, and it went 3.74 at 328 mph. It’s awesome to start like this and have the No. 1 spot going into Phoenix. This is my life dream, and we’re living it.”


In Pro Stock, Anderson raced to his 71st career victory and fifth at the Winternationals, by powering his Summit Racing Equipment Pontiac to a 6.549 at 210.87 to hold off Jeg Coughlin’s JEGS.com/Mopar Dodge Avenger, which trailed with a 6.586 at 209.62.

Anderson raced past Larry Morgan, Allen Johnson and teammate and defending world champ Jason Line to advance to the final.

“I wasn’t the quickest driver out here today, but I was very consistent,” Anderson said. “We managed to stop the big yellow Mopar [of Jeg Coughlin in the final]. He sure came out swinging. You’re always aware of how good Jeg is driving. I’ve never been very good at tuning that kind of stuff out, but it worked today. The crew made great decisions, and here we are back in the winner’s circle again.”


Two of drag racing's very best faced off in the Pro Stock final with Greg Anderson (far lane) beating Jeg Coughlin's very impressive new Dodge Avenger


The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series continues next weekend (Feb. 17-19) at Firebird International Raceway near Phoenix with the NHRA Arizona Nationals.


TOP FUEL Name ET MPH Career Win
Winner: Spencer Massey 3.750 325.77 7th
R/UP: Antron Brown 3.794 320.43  
Low ET: Spencer Massey 3.745    
Top Speed: Spencer Massey   328.62  
Bump Spot:   9.343    
FUNNY CAR Name ET MPH Career Win
Winner: John Force 4.080 315.64 134th
R/UP: Mike Neff 4.038 316.82  
Low ET: Mike Neff 4.036    
Top Speed: Mike Neff   316.97  
Bump Spot:   4.306    
PRO STOCK Name ET MPH Career Win
Winner: Greg Anderson 6.549 210.87 71st
R/UP: Jeg Coughlin Jr. 6.589 209.62  
Low ET: Jason Line 6.534    
Top Speed: Jason Line   212.46  
Bump Spot:   7.486    
LUCAS OIL        
Sportsman Class Winners: Name ET MPH  
Top Alcohol Dragster Chris Demke 5.281 270.32  
Top Alcohol FC Daniel Oliver 5.531 258.67  
Competition Dan Fletcher 11.90   74.85  
Super Stock Mike Cotton 10.24  120.07   
Stock Brad Burton 10.81  118.20   
Super Comp Kevin Wright 10.12  101.04   
Super Gas Greg Ventura 9.926   141.12  


Mike Cotton won in Super Stock with his cool '70 Cuda during Monday's rain deferred Sportsman eliminations


Pro Racing Results Courtesy of NHRA Media Department

Photos by: Bruce Biegler & Dave DeAngelis

To view DragRaceCanada’s very extensive event photo gallery click HERE