Stanfield and Smith Winners at Lucas Oil Winternationals
Drag racing at Pomona began in the 1950s after the local police department worked with city officials to build a drag strip next to the Los Angeles Fair Grounds. The goal was to get young drivers off the streets by providing a safer place for them to race their hot rods. The ingenuous program proved successful and a decade later Auto Club Raceway became a Southern California hotspot. Nestled in the shadow of Mount Baldy and the San Gabriel Mountains, the track was nicknamed “The Fairplex” and has been hosting national events for the National Hot Rod Association for four decades. Last year Pomona hosted the opening round of the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series but the final race of the 2020 season was moved to The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway due to coronavirus restrictions. When the time came to launch the 2021 season, Auto Club Raceway was being used as an active COVID-19 vaccination site, so the Lucas Oil Winternationals were delayed to mid-summer.
Janac Brothers Camaro Denies Anderson a Historic Win
Fortunately for the Redlands track and unfortunately for Washington state race fans, the Flav-R-Pack NHRA Northwest Nationals originally scheduled for July 30-Aug 1 weekend was cancelled and Auto Club Raceway inherited the race date. Nonetheless, it gets hot in the low desert in late July, which caused the team to struggle with setups to find the right grip on the 140-degree pavement. In NHRA Pro Stock, both Aaron Stanfield and number one qualifier Greg Anderson found the magic on Sunday, as their final run was a virtual dead heat at Pomona with 6.65 ET to 6.66 ET. By the slimmest of margins, Aaron Stanfield won for the second straight event and again denied Anderson the chance for his 97th career win, which would tie class icon Warren Johnson. Driving the Janac Brothers Camaro, Stanfield barely defeated multi-time champion Erica Enders in their elimination round by .008 seconds, but now has four career wins in Pro Stock.
Smith First Pro Stock Motorcycle Winner at Winternationals
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Matt Smith continued his domination with his fourth win of the 2021 NHRA Camping World season by defeating four-time champion Angelle Sampey in final round. Smith, who is also a four time champion, earned his ticket to the NHRA Countdown to the Championship aboard his Denso/Stockseth Racing Buell with a 6.83 ET to Sampey’s 6.92 ET aboard the Mission Foods Vance & Hines Suzuki. Historically, the Pro Stock Motorcycle division does not run at the Lucas Oil Winternationals but the change in race dates for the traditional season opener allowed Smith to become the first PSM winner at the event in NHRA history. Sampey defeated teammate Eddie Krawiec in the semifinal round to earn her 75th final round appearance. Number one qualifier Smith had to eliminate Scotty Pollacheck to earn his spot in the final. Matt Smith heads to the Heartlands with a 262-point lead over rival Steve Johnson. The second place finish moved Sampey to fourth in the season standings over Ryan Oehler and Angie Smith. Sonoma winner Karen Stoffer held on to seventh ahead of Eddie Krawiec, Joey Gladstone, and Andrew Hines.
Heartland Menards NHRA Nationals
The NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series will take a week off before heading to Topeka, Kansas August 13-15 for the 32nd annual Heartland Menards Nationals at Heartland Motorsports Park.