NHRA: Favorites Through 1/3 Of The Regular Season


NHRA Funny Car driver John Force (near) races alongside teammate Robert Hight during qualifying for the Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway. The two JFR drivers may be the favorites to win it all in 2014.

Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The NHRA Mello Yello regular season is a third of the way through for the Pro classes.  There doesn’t appear to be any big surprises in Top Fuel and while most of Funny Cars usual favorites are at or near the front, there are a few notable teams contending and yet some big names are not faring as well as expected.  There aren’t any big shockers in Pro Stock; however, there is a driver who may make history if they stay where they are.  And finally in Pro Stock Motorcycle, with only two events run, it’s hard to figure out who’s looking good and who isn’t.  With that said, here’s a look at the top favorites right now for the championship as we head into the second third of the schedule before the playoffs start.

Top Fuel – The early leader so far is Don Schumacher Racing’s (DSR) Antron Brown, but interestingly enough the top four drivers come from four different teams.  Kalitta Motorsports’ Doug Kalitta was the early season leader and sits a solid second at this point.  Steve Torrence owns his own team and is third in the points, while Shawn Langdon and Khalid alBalooshi are fourth and fifth respectively, driving for Al-Anabi Racing.  DSR’s Tony Schumacher and Spencer Massey are sixth and seventh with the ability to still contend for a title.

NHRA Top Fuel driver Antron Brown celebrates after winning the 4 Wide Nationals at zMax Dragway. Brown looks like he’s ready for a second title run in 2014.

Mandatory Credit: Jason Zindroski-USA TODAY Sports

At this point any one of these drivers could win the championship, but if you want to narrow it down, figure last year’s champ Langdon along with Brown and Kalitta appear to be just a cut above the rest.

Funny Car – As stated above, nothing particularly unusual going on with Funny Car with drivers like John Force Racing’s (JFR) Robert Hight and John Force holding onto the first and second spots so far.  Kalitta’s Alexis De Joria and Del Worsham are third and fourth with a foursome of DSR drivers fifth through eighth: Ron Capps, Jack Beckman, Tommy Johnson and Matt Hagan.  Notably out of contention right now is Courtney Force in tenth and former two-time champion Cruz Pedregon who is languishing in 12th overall.

The favorites right now are headed up by the top two, Hight and John.  De Joria is a bit inconsistent right now or she too would be a favorite.  Any of the DSR guys could get hot and jump to the top, however it’s a crap shoot as to who that might be.  Right now, your money should be on one of those two leading Force cars.

NHRA pro stock driver Erica Enders-Stevens celebrates after winning the Spring Nationals at Royal Purple Raceway. Could she make more history in 2014?

Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Pro Stock – While all the favorites in this toughest of classes are still in the running, the driver at the top looks prepared to make history if she wins the title.  Erica Enders-Stevens leads the standings and although drivers like Allen Johnson, Jason Line, Vincent Nobile, Shane Gray, Dave Connolly and Jeg Coughlin are all close enough to battle for the top spot, Erica certainly has proven to the rest of the field that if they want the championship, she will be the one to beat.  And if that is the case, she would make history as only the third woman ever to win a professional motorsports title and the first to nab a Pro Stock championship.

Pro Stock Motorcycle – The bikes still have a lot of racing to do and with only two events under their belt, it may well be too early to rate favorites.  With that said, the Harleys sit first and fourth overall with Andrew Hines number one currently and Eddie Krawiec fourth.  Matt Smith Racing’s (MSR) Scotty Pollacheck and John Hall are second and third in the point standings.  Hector Arana Jr. is fifth, while his father and brother Hector and Adam are back in ninth and eleventh.  Steve Johnson is a solid sixth, Michael Ray is seventh and last year’s champ Matt Smith is eighth.  Anyone of these riders can win the championship.  The Arana’s are all capable along with any of the MSR bikes, but the Harleys appear ready to strike back after an off year in 2013.

Source: NHRA

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