POMONA, Calif. – Robert Hight sits atop of the Funny Car class following qualifying Saturday at the 59th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals presented by ProtectTheHarvest.com at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.
Steve Torrence (Top Fuel) and Rodger Brogdon (Pro Stock) are also No. 1 qualifiers in their respective categories at the first of 24 events on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.
Hight’s second qualifying run of 3.871 seconds at 329.67 mph from Friday evening in his Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro stood strong throughout Saturday’s qualifying efforts.
After tallying three No. 1 qualifiers last year, Hight locked down his first of the season and 61st of his career.
“We are here to show these guys we know what we’re doing,” Hight said. “The guys worked hard over the winter and found some things we did wrong during the Countdown. Testing went well and we’ve won here quite a few times and been No. 1 qualifier here before, so we normally are able to shine when it counts.”
Hight will face Terry Haddock in the first round of eliminations.
Jack Beckman is second after running a 3.900 at 330.23 in his Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Hellcat and will line up against Phil Burkhart Jr., while teammate Tommy Johnson Jr. is third with a 3.904 at 327.03 in his Make-A-Wish Dodge Hellcat.
Defending world champion Torrence paced the Top Fuel category with a run of 3.657 at 331.61 in his Capco Contractors/Torrence Racing dragster during his final pass of qualifying.
After securing three top qualifying positions last year, Torrence notched the 20th of his career at the season opener.
“We came here, and the dragsters weren’t where we wanted them to be,” Torrence said. “We made some changes this morning, learned from them and it played well for us during Q4. It’s really humbling and unique to be a world champion in a class that is the pinnacle of the sport and to come out and compete is just a dream for me.”
Torrence will race Steve Faria in a first round match-up. His father, Billy Torrence, is second after running a 3.662 at 326.79 in his Capco Contractors/Torrence Racing dragster and will race Cameron Ferre.
In Pro Stock, Brogdon took over the top spot after driving to a 6.522 at 212.03 run in his RBR Machine Chevrolet Camaro during the first qualifying pass of the day.
He locked in his second career top qualifying position, his first since Gainesville 2011, and will race Val Smeland in the first round of eliminations.
“I feel good and I’ve got a great team,” Brogdon said. “We tested last week and everything went really well. The Elite (Motorsports) bunch is incredible. I never really thought I could be No. 1 – maybe top three with a good run – but I feel really good about this.”
Erica Enders qualified second with a 6.528 lap at 212.09 in her Melling Performance/Elite Motosports Chevrolet Camaro and defending event winner Bo Butner rounded out the top three with his run of 6.530 at 213.10, the top speed in the class during qualifying.