In-N-Out Burger NHRA Finals
Event 21 of 21
Countdown Event 6 of 6
In-N-Out Burger Pomona Dragstrip
Nov. 10 - 12, 2023
JCM Racing developmental driver Wyatt Wagner clinched the Super Stock world championship en route to securing the race win at the NHRA Finals
Tim Wilkerson Races to Father-Son Funny Car Final Round at NHRA Finals
POMONA, Calif. (Nov. 12, 2023) – Tim Wilkerson wrapped up the 2023 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season just one win light short of a victory at the In-N-Out Burger NHRA Finals, and it was a car tuned by his own son, Daniel Wilkerson, who stopped him in the final round Sunday afternoon. Wilkerson’s SCAG Power Equipment/Levi, Ray & Shoup Ford Mustang made a quicker pass than Chad Green’s Mustang, but Green got to the finish line first thanks to a holeshot advantage. It was the fourth final round of the season for Wilkerson and the Maynard Wilkerson Racing team.
Wilkerson missed the tune-up in the first qualifying session at In-N-Out Burger Pomona Dragstrip before improving to a 4.148-second pass in the second session, but it still wasn’t where Wilkerson wanted to end Friday qualifying. The driver-tuner found what he was looking for in the third session, posting a 3.955 E.T. to move up to the middle of the pack. He stepped up again to a 3.928 E.T. in the final session to end up No. 10 in a nearly all-three-second field.
In the opening round of eliminations against outgoing world champion Ron Capps, Wilkerson posted a 3.978-second pass to beat his tire-smoking competitor. He lined the SCAG machine up against Funny Car icon John Force in the second round, where Force got the starting-line advantage, but Wilkerson made up the difference down-track and won with a 3.956 E.T. over Force’s 4.003 E.T. Wilkerson was first off the starting line in the semifinals against Cruz Pedregon and held the lead through the 1,000-foot finish line to win with a 3.92-second pass to Pedregon’s 3.953 E.T.
A Wilkerson-tuned Funny Car was guaranteed to win in the final round, with Tim’s son Daniel calling the shots on Green’s Mustang. Wilkerson and Green have paired up several times in eliminations, though this was their first final-round meeting. Green left the starting line first, and while Wilkerson made his quickest run of the weekend, a 3.900-second pass at 327.59 MPH, Green’s holeshot advantage and 3.916 E.T. gave him the win.
“I wanted to end up fifth in the standings. All I had to do was beat Chad in the finals but it didn’t work out,” said the SCAG/LRS pilot, who finished sixth in points. “Both teams did a great job all day long. Daniel made Matt Hagan the champion so that was pretty cool, but obviously, we were happy to be in the finals. My car should’ve run a little better than that, but I didn’t have nothing for a .033 light. Chad just did a better job up there.
“Very excited for my guys to finish the year by going to the finals. We couldn’t have drawn that up any better to have both Wilkersons in the final round. We’ve been trying to do that all year long and we finally got it done. I don’t like being on the losing end of it but hey, that’s racing. You don’t win ‘em all. We made four really nice runs today, and I’m very proud of that. So, we’ll take our team and go into next year and hopefully, we can keep this up.”
Wilkerson’s 2023 season featured two wins in four final-round appearances, including his milestone 50th career final-round appearance. He finished the season in the top 10 for the 16th consecutive season and 18th overall.
Wilkerson will be among the Funny Car drivers up on stage at the NHRA Awards Banquet on Monday, Nov. 12 at the Pechanga Resort and Casino in Pechanga, Calif.
Qualified: No. 10 (3.928 E.T. at 328.22 MPH)
Elimination Round Results:
E1: 3.978 E.T. at 314.39 MPH defeated Ron Capps 4.595 E.T. at 186.00 MPH
E2: 3.956 E.T. at 320.81 MPH defeated John Force 4.003 E.T. at 324.20 MPH
E3: 3.920 E.T. at 328.14 MPH defeated Cruz Pedregon 3.953 E.T. at 326.56 MPH
E4: 3.900 E.T. at 327.59 MPH defeated by Chad Green 3.916 E.T. at 328.54 MPH
Justin Ashley Finishes Career Best Season in Pomona
Justin Ashley and the Phillips Connect Toyota Top Fuel dragster capped one of the most dominant seasons in recent Top Fuel memory with a semifinal finish at the season-ending In-N-Out NHRA Finals. As a six-time national event winner this season, Ashley was one of five drivers in contention for the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series Top Fuel world champions coming into race day today at In-N-Out Pomona Dragstrip. Ashley entered eliminations Sunday as the No. 8 qualifier with his eye on his first Top Fuel championship. Ashley needed to win the race and for the drivers he was chasing to exit early.
In the opening round facing the reigning 2022 Top Fuel champion Brittany Force, Ashley knew his path to victory was not going to be an easy one. Ashley and Force were the first two Top Fuel dragsters to hit the track and it was Ashley turning on the first win light of the day. He was first off the line and never trailed in the drag race. His winning time of 3.715 seconds at 333.74 mph gave him lane choice over No. 1 qualifier Austin Prock in the quarterfinals.
“I always try and do my best to stay even keel,” said Ashley. “Our team does the same and I think that's what helps to give us the best chance to win. We could certainly feel the intensity because it’s the final day and you never know when it's going to be your last lap of that season. Seeing that win light turn on being the first pair out of first round was really relief more so than anything else.”
In the second round, Ashley’s fate was out of his hands as points leader Steve Torrence was racing his father and teammate Billy Torrence in the first pair of the session. With a win, Steve Torrence would mathematically eliminate Ashley from championship contention. Fate did not smile on Ashley and even though he won his second-round race against Prock he would have to settle for a fourth-place finish in the Top Fuel standings. His winning time of 3.735 seconds against Prock’s 3.774-second run advanced him to his eleventh semifinal of the season.
The final four drivers standing at the In-N-Out Finals included Ashley and the three drivers racing for the Top Fuel championship, Doug Kalitta, Torrence and Leah Pruett. Ashley drew Kalitta on his side of the ladder. Ashley took a starting line advantage over his Toyota teammate but Kalitta posted a quicker elapsed time to advance to the final and pave the way to his first Top Fuel world title.
“We feel really good about the season even though we didn't finish the way that we wanted to or the way that we expected it to,” said Ashley. “We put ourselves in a position to win with three rounds left on the final day of racing. That's really all you can ask for. I am just proud of the effort that this Phillips Connect group put in all year long. It was an impressive effort all year with tight turnaround times, different weather conditions and so many variables but they came through each and every time. I am so grateful for the group led by Mike Green, Tommy DeLago, Dustin Davis and all the Phillips Connect Toyota guys. Having the support of KATO Fastening Systems, Mac Tools, Impact Lucas Oil and all the companies that make this thing go it just adds more motivation for 2024.
“The more you win, the more you want to win,” said Ashley. “We won a lot of races this year, a lot of Mission Foods Challenges, but not coming out with the championship trophy is certainly motivating. I have a lot to learn and we can continue to get better as a team. I know we'll be in good shape next year.”
Qualified: No. 8 (3.682 E.T. at 334.73 MPH)
Elimination Round Results:
E1: 3.715 E.T. at 333.74 MPH defeated Brittany Force 5.425 E.T. at 128.54 MPH
E2: 3.735 E.T. at 330.88 MPH defeated Austin Prock 3.774 E.T. at 319.52 MPH
E3: 3.723 E.T. at 332.18 MPH defeated Justin Ashley 3.801 E.T. at 315.56 MPH
Tony Schumacher Scores 22nd Top 10 NHRA Top Fuel Finish
It’s no secret that Tony Schumacher and the SCAG Power Equipment Top Fuel team struggled to get their footing in the earlier part of the 2023 NHRA Camping World Series season, but by the time the new team led by Mike ‘Zippy’ Neff and Jon Shaffer reached the back half of the year, they started to see the fruits of their labor pay off. The recent uptick in performance led to two semifinal finishes and a quarterfinal appearance for the SCAG team during the six-race playoffs, and helped to propel Schumacher to his 22nd top 10 finish.
At the In-N-Out Burger NHRA Finals, the last event of the season, Schumacher qualified his machine 11th on the strength of his 3.703-second pass, which he clocked during the second qualifying session. Despite the strong Q2 run, the team faced traction issues throughout the remaining qualifying rounds and found themselves facing championship contender Leah Pruett as their first-round competitor. While there weren’t any title implications on the line for the eight-time Top Fuel world champ this time around, he had the opportunity to play spoiler for Pruett who was chasing her first title. Unfortunately, Schumacher’s traction issues continued into eliminations on Sunday morning, and he was sidelined after the first round when his machine smoked the tires while Pruett made a clean pass to advance.
“That was an unfortunate round for us, but fortunate for her,” said Schumacher, a six-time winner at In-N-Out Burger Pomona Dragstrip in Pomona, Calif. “We didn’t run well first round, but we haven’t really performed all weekend long. So, we put ourselves in the spot to get beat and I guess we earned what we got. So, we’ll go out, re-group, and spend the off-season testing, and we’re looking forward to coming back strong in 2024.”
The 2023 NHRA season will go down in the books as a 10th-place finish for Schumacher, who will be recognized alongside his fellow top 10 competitors on Monday night at the NHRA Awards Ceremony in Pechanga, Calif.
Qualified: No. 11 (3.703 E.T. at 331.20 MPH)
Elimination Round Results:
E1: 4.107 E.T. at 218.94 MPH defeated by Leah Pruett 3.708 E.T. at 331.53 MPH