The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series starts its 2020 season in memorable fashion, as the annual iconic opener, the Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals presented by ProtectTheHarvest.com, will celebrate its 60th rendition Feb. 6-9 at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona. The tradition-rich event is the first of 24 during the 2020 season.
The race marks the first event in the 2020 Mickey Thompson Top Fuel Harley series where Spevco / Samson Exhaust backed racer Tii Tharpe will begin his quest for a three-peat. Tharpe was able to hold off veteran Doug Vancil, who finished in second place the last two seasons. Rickey “Sharky” House, returning Beau Layne, Jay “The Bulldog” Turner, Bob Malloy and several others are expected to be top contenders.
The historic race takes place at the birthplace of NHRA drag racing and the Winternationals has provided one incredible moment after another for six decades. Fans can expect another must-see event in 2020, one that will also include the kickoff to the 50th anniversary celebration of Pro Stock. With new cars and new teams set to make their 2020 debuts as the 11,000-horsepower nitro machines roar back to life, Auto Club Raceway at Pomona provides the ideal backdrop for drivers to leave their mark in the Winternationals history books.
Defending Funny Car world champ Robert Hight has enjoyed tremendous success at his home track, as the Southern California native won for the fifth time at Pomona at the season-opener a year ago. His year ended with a third world title – his second in three years – and Hight will look to open 2020 with a second straight Winternationals victory. Trying to stop him will be a host of star drivers, including 16-time world champ John Force, two-time world champ Matt Hagan, Jack Beckman, who won the season finale in Pomona in November, Ron Capps, 2018 world champ J.R. Todd, Tommy Johnson Jr., Alexis DeJoria, who is set to return to the class, Cruz Pedregon, Tim Wilkerson and Bob Tasca III.
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 12:15 p.m. and 2:45 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 7, and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, Feb. 8 at 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, Feb. 9.