From left: Bo Butner, Robert Hight, Doug Kalitta. Photos and videos courtesy NHRA

NHRA: Kalitta, Hight, Butner open season with Winternationals wins

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In Monday’s rain-rescheduled finals of the season-opening NHRA Lucas Oil Winternationals, Doug Kalitta did something no other driver has been able to do of late: beat 2018 Top Fuel champion Steve Torrence.

Torrence won the last six races of 2018, more than half of the 11 wins he earned in the 24-race season. But Monday, Kalitta topped the Texas native, marking two years in a row that Kalitta has begun the season with a Winternationals win.

Also winning the Winternationals for the second straight year was 2017 champion Bo Butner in Pro Stock.

And two-time NHRA Funny Car champ Robert Hight earned his fourth career Winternationals title.

Here’s how things played out Monday:

TOP FUEL: Kalitta (4.014 seconds at 269.29 mph) defeated No. 1 qualifier Torrence (4.008 seconds, 240.25 mph) as both dragsters pedaled their way through broken traction to reach the finish line. It was the 45th win of Kalitta’s Top Fuel career.

“This place has always been very special for me,” Kalitta said in a media release. “To have success here is more than you could imagine for me. We were fortunate to get by (Torrence’s team) but we’re going to keep at it.

“We are really hungry and we’ve got Rob (Flynn, crew chief) and Troy (Fasching, crew chief) doing just an awesome job. I’m just really proud of them.”

Kalitta not only defeated Steve Torrence in the final round, he also defeated Torrence’s father, Billy, in the quarterfinals. He also defeated Scott Palmer in the first round and Terry McMillen in the semifinals.

FUNNY CAR: Hight (3.881 seconds at 329.75 mph) defeated Jack Beckman (3.880 seconds, 329.42 mph) in the final round.

“You look at the Funny Car class and I think its tougher this year than last,” said Hight, who finished second in last year’s standings after winning the crown in 2017. “To come out here and be the No. 1 qualifier and win the race, that’s quite an accomplishment for this team. We’re going to have to be on our game all year long.”

The president of John Force Racing, Hight’s road to his 46th career Funny Car win began by defeating Terry Haddock in the opening round, Bob Tasca III in the quarterfinals and teammate and boss John Force in the semifinals before facing Beckman in the final round.

Beckman reached the final round by defeating, in order, Phil Burkhart Jr., Cruz Pedregon and Don Schumacher Racing teammate Tommy Johnson Jr.

PRO STOCK: In a rematch and same outcome as the 2018 Winternationals final round, Butner (6.522 seconds, 211.59 mph) earned his eighth career win by defeating teammate Jason Line (7.160 seconds, 148.58 mph).

“We were really struggling during qualifying,” Butner stated. “I definitely feel like we had the best car all four rounds today. I feel like we have a great car and team this year and I’m looking forward to keep going. We’re going to try and win them and the KB Racing team is as strong as ever.”

It was an interesting turn of events for Butner, who late last season announced that he would be stepping away from Pro Stock and returning to his Sportsman racing roots in 2019. Then, just a few weeks later, Butner changed his mind and said he would return to Pro Stock, which has seen its schedule trimmed from 24 national events to just 18 races in 2019.

Butner defeated, in order, Alan Prusiensky, Chris McGaha and two-time world champion Erica Enders en route to his final round win over Line.

The NHRA’s next national event is the Magic Dry Organic Absorbent NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park Feb. 22-24.

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FINAL ROUND:

TOP FUEL: Doug Kalitta, 4.014 seconds, 269.29 mph def. Steve Torrence, 4.008 seconds, 240.25 mph.

FUNNY CAR: Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 3.881, 329.75 def. Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger, 3.880, 329.42.

PRO STOCK: Bo Butner, Chevy Camaro, 6.522, 211.59 def. Jason Line, Camaro, 7.160, 148.58.

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FINAL FINISHING ORDER:

TOP FUEL: 1. Doug Kalitta; 2. Steve Torrence; 3. Mike Salinas; 4. Terry McMillen; 5. Billy Torrence; 6. Austin Prock; 7. Leah Pritchett; 8. Antron Brown; 9. Richie Crampton; 10. Clay Millican; 11. Steve Faria; 12. Brittany Force; 13. Cameron Ferre; 14. Scott Palmer.

FUNNY CAR: 1. Robert Hight; 2. Jack Beckman; 3. John Force; 4. Tommy Johnson Jr.; 5. Bob Tasca III; 6. Cruz Pedregon; 7. Shawn Langdon; 8. Ron Capps; 9. Matt Hagan; 10. Terry Haddock; 11. Tim Wilkerson; 12. Frank Pedregon; 13. J.R. Todd; 14. Gary Densham; 15. Jim Campbell; 16. Phil Burkart.

PRO STOCK: 1. Bo Butner; 2. Jason Line; 3. Alex Laughlin; 4. Erica Enders; 5. Matt Hartford; 6. Steve Graham; 7. Val Smeland; 8. Chris McGaha; 9. Kenny Delco; 10. Alan Prusiensky; 11. Deric Kramer; 12. Greg Anderson; 13. Fernando Cuadra; 14. Jeg Coughlin; 15. Jeff Isbell; 16. Rodger Brogdon.

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FINAL ROUND-BY-ROUND RESULTS:

TOP FUEL: ROUND ONE — Doug Kalitta, 3.707, 323.97 def. Scott Palmer, 8.545, 93.47; Terry McMillen, 3.710, 329.10 def. Richie Crampton, 3.737, 325.22; Leah Pritchett, 3.707, 325.61 def. Antron Brown, 3.733, 329.26; Billy Torrence, 4.103, 266.42 def. Cameron Ferre, 7.368, 86.02; Steve Torrence, 3.688, 330.96 def. Steve Faria, 4.626, 163.18; Austin Prock, 4.029, 312.21 def. Brittany Force, 5.851, 112.72; Mike Salinas, 3.682, 333.74 def. Clay Millican, 3.840, 327.82. QUARTERFINALS — Kalitta, 3.716, 325.69 def. B. Torrence, 3.670, 331.04; McMillen, 3.696, 329.91 def. Pritchett, 4.622, 147.12; S. Torrence, 3.678, 331.36 was unopposed; Salinas, 3.685, 334.40 def. Prock, 3.699, 334.15. SEMIFINALS — Kalitta, 3.708, 328.70 def. McMillen, 3.706, 329.10; S. Torrence, 3.688, 329.50 def. Salinas, 3.687, 318.47. FINAL – Kalitta 4.014, 269.29 def. S. Torrence, 4.008, 240.25.

FUNNY CAR: ROUND ONE — Bob Tasca III, Ford Mustang, 3.959, 319.75 def. J.R. Todd, Toyota Camry, 9.384, 84.66; Cruz Pedregon, Dodge Charger, 4.292, 215.86 def. Frank Pedregon, Toyota Camry, 6.688, 109.80; Shawn Langdon, Camry, 3.930, 328.30 def. Jim Campbell, Charger, 13.400, 49.20; Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.102, 237.96 def. Phil Burkart, Broke – No Show; Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.193, 288.33 def. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 5.822, 121.03; Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 4.076, 246.57 def. Terry Haddock, Mustang, 4.877, 164.87; Ron Capps, Charger, 3.933, 323.04 def. Gary Densham, Mustang, 12.020, 83.20; John Force, Camaro, 3.890, 333.74 def. Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.140, 243.33. QUARTERFINALS — Hight, 3.856, 331.61 def. Tasca III, 3.932, 322.58; Beckman, 3.875, 331.94 def. C. Pedregon, 3.962, 328.46; Johnson Jr., 3.876, 326.87 def. Langdon, 3.982, 324.05; Force, 3.900, 323.19 def. Capps, 4.092, 248.07; SEMIFINALS — Beckman, 3.898, 327.59 def. Johnson Jr., 5.216, 144.83; Hight, 3.883, 328.22 def. Force, 3.930, 321.42; FINAL — Hight, 3.881, 329.75 def. Beckman, 3.880, 329.42.

PRO STOCK: ROUND ONE — Alex Laughlin, Chevy Camaro, 6.545, 211.33 def. Jeg Coughlin, Camaro, 35.522, 43.37; Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.545, 210.34 def. Kenny Delco, Camaro, 6.550, 211.06; Chris McGaha, Camaro, 7.946, 165.09 def. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 27.866, 51.48; Jason Line, Camaro, 6.536, 211.93 def. Fernando Cuadra, Camaro, 28.385, 29.30; Steve Graham, Camaro, 6.607, 210.41 def. Deric Kramer, Camaro, 6.907, 201.58; Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.501, 212.39 def. Alan Prusiensky, Dodge Dart, 6.637, 208.42; Val Smeland, Camaro, 6.599, 210.77 def. Rodger Brogdon, Camaro, Foul – Red Light; Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.517, 212.39 def. Jeff Isbell, Ford Mustang, ; QUARTERFINALS — Laughlin, 6.716, 205.54 def. Smeland, 8.256, 123.01; Line, 6.531, 212.03 def. Graham, 6.602, 209.69; Enders, 6.510, 212.09 def. Hartford, 6.533, 210.34; Butner, 6.526, 211.43 def. McGaha, 8.953, 105.81; SEMIFINALS — Line, 6.527, 211.13 def. Laughlin, 6.527, 211.66; Butner, 6.518, 211.53 def. Enders, 6.527, 211.93; FINAL — Butner, 6.522, 211.59 def. Line, 7.160, 148.58.

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UPDATED POINTS STANDINGS AFTER FIRST RACE:

TOP FUEL: 1. Doug Kalitta, 117; 2. Steve Torrence, 106; 3. Terry McMillen, 72; 4. Mike Salinas, 70; 5. Billy Torrence, 56; 6. (tie) Leah Pritchett, 52; Austin Prock, 52; 8. Antron Brown, 37; 9. (tie) Richie Crampton, 35; Scott Palmer, 35.

FUNNY CAR: 1. Robert Hight, 121; 2. Jack Beckman, 100; 3. Tommy Johnson Jr., 81; 4. John Force, 71; 5. Shawn Langdon, 58; 6. Ron Capps, 57; 7. Bob Tasca III, 55; 8. Cruz Pedregon, 54; 9. Matt Hagan, 37; 10. (tie) Jim Campbell, 32; Gary Densham, 32; Frank Pedregon, 32; J.R. Todd, 32; Tim Wilkerson, 32.

PRO STOCK: 1. Bo Butner, 120; 2. Jason Line, 97; 3. Erica Enders, 80; 4. Alex Laughlin, 76; 5. (tie) Matt Hartford, 52; Chris McGaha, 52; 7. (tie) Steve Graham, 51; Val Smeland, 51; 9. Rodger Brogdon, 44; 10. Deric Kramer, 37.

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Cooper Webb beats Ken Roczen in Arlington Supercross photo finish

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Cooper Webb scored his fourth win of the season in a photo finish over Ken Roczen in Round 7 of Supercross competition.

It was a remarkable end to a barn burner race.

Roczen was still looking for his first win since San Diego in 2017. He took the lead from Eli Tomac on Lap 4 as the pair came out of the whoops. Roczen held the lead for the next 21 circuits. On Lap 4, Webb was mired in sixth – the worst position among the top four contenders that entered the event with only two points separating them.

Webb mounted his charge at that point, meticulously picking off the competition until he was embroiled in a heated battle with Marvin Musquin. Webb knew that his only shot at catching Roczen was to get past Musquin as quickly as possible, but he could not run the risk of taking his teammate down. Webb passed Musquin on Lap 19 and began picking at Roczen’s lead.

With time off the clock and the final lap underway. Webb was on Roczen’s back tire hoping to force a mistake. When that did not come, Webb dove into the final turn to get side-by-side with Roczen and break the leader’s momentum. The two crossed under the checkers in a virtual tie. Webb beat Roczen by two-hundredths of a second – the closest margin in Supercross history.

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“That was just insanity,” Webb told NBCSN after the race. “It was clicking I guess.”

Webb’s win gave him the points lead and the red plate.

Musquin rounded out the top three to keep the points battle tight. This is Musquin’s fifth consecutive finish of either second or third.

On Lap 1, the race had a completely different storyline. Tomac took the early lead ahead of Roczen and Musquin. Webb was seventh and it appeared he would be the first of the top four to blink.

Instead, it was Tomac that bobbled. He went down on Lap 6 and kept falling until he landed 12th. This was the first time he’s failed to finish among the top 10. The disappointing finish dropped him 16 points off the pace, fourth in the standings.

Blake Baggett and Joey Savatgy rounded out the top five.

Zach Osborne’s return to Supercross was not what he expected. Osborne was running eighth when he got crossed up and went over the tough blocks on Lap 8. He could not return to the race and finished 22nd after a dramatic showing in his heat.

Complete Results
Points Standings

250s

Round 2 of 250s East started where Round 1 ended – with Austin Forkner in the lead. This was the first time in more than a decade that a rider had perfect nights in the first two rounds. Forkner had to overcome mistakes in timed practice after going off track once and nearly landing on another rider on a separate occasion. That contact might have ended his night before it began.

Instead, Forkner posted a lap of 50.899 – his fastest of the night – on the second trip around the track in the Feature. As he got into traffic, the lap times slipped into the 52-second range.

Helping Forkner to his dominant win was the fact that no one seemed to want second place.

Chase Sexton was Forkner’s closest competition for the first half of the race. He stalled and lost second to Jordon Smith at the midway point. On Lap 15, he went down and fell to fourth. Now 13 seconds behind the leader, his chance of winning was done. Sexton recovered to finish third and land on the final step on the podium

On Lap 18, Jordon Smith laid his bike down while running second; he ultimately crossed under the checkers fourth.

Their mistakes allowed Justin Cooper to climb into the runner-up position and secure the second position in the points standings.

Martin Davalos rounded out the top five.

Complete Results
Points Standings

450 Heat 1: Ken Roczen led every lap on his way to a 4.8-second win over Justin Hill. … Joey Savatgy rounded out the top three. … Zach Osborne got off to a tough start on his return to Supercross. He went down on Lap 1 after burying the front wheel. Osborne almost saved his bike, but got run over from behind by Aaron Plessinger. Osborne fell to 18th on the first lap; improved to 15th by Lap 2. He kept rolling, picking off one spot per lap. Osborne grabbed the final transfer spot from Kyle Chisholm just as time ran off the clock.

450 Heat 2: Cole Seely took the lead from Chad Reed on Lap 1 and held it to the checkers. After Roczen took the Heat 2 win, the battle for the championship was previewed in Heat 2, however; Eli Tomac caught up to Seely’s back wheel, but came up about a half second short. … Cooper Webb showed he is not going to be overshadowed in the playoff battle with a third-place finish. … Marvin Musquin finished seventh.

450 Last Chance Qualifier: Justin Barcia flat out dominated the LCQ with a 12.5-second win over Alex Ray. … Kyle Chisholm finished third. Ronnie Stewart lost the final transfer spot to Scott Champion on the last lap – but not for long. Champion went down as he was headed for the checkers and gave the position back to Stewart. … Tyler Bowers was disqualified before the beginning of the LCQ for running into Barcia during their heat race.

250 Heat 1: Mitchell Oldenburg blazed into the lead with the holeshot and grabbed a 1.4 second lead by the end of Lap 1. It was Oldenburg’s first heat win of the season. … He held that advantage through the end of the heat and beat Justin Cooper and Alex Martin. … With time running off the clock, Lorenzo Locurcio took the final transfer spot of ninth.

250 Heat 2: Austin Forkner and Jordon Smith went side by side on Lap 5 with Forkner blasting past on the whoops to win the heat. … Smith held on for second with Martin Davalos rounding out the top three. … Kyle Peters almost provided the drama of the night exiting Turn 1. He got wiggly in a big pack and bunched up the riders from seventh on back. Peters recovered to finish fifth. … The final transfer spot came down to a three-man battle between Brandon Hartranft (eighth), Joshua Cartwright (ninth) and Steven Clarke just missing in 10th. … Joey Crown joined Clarke in the LCQ after finishing 11th.

250 Last Chance Qualifier: Kyle Cunningham was seventh at the end of Lap 1, but he picked up two positions per lap until he was third on Lap 3. He took the lead on Lap 5 and held it till the end over Ramyller Alves and Steven Clarke. … TJ Albright grabbed the holeshot, but lost the lead to Clarke on Lap 3. He fell back to fourth and was under heavy pressure from Jayce Pennington until the two riders made contact with on the final lap. Albright survived to finish fourth; Pennington finished a distant 16th.

Points Leaders

450s
Cooper Webb (150) (4 wins)
Ken Roczen (148)
Marvin Musquin (144)
Eli Tomac (134) (1 win)
Dean Wilson (110)

250s West
Adam Cianciarulo (114 points) (3 wins)
Shane McElrath (106) (1)
Colt Nichols (104) (1)
Dylan Ferrandis (102)
RJ Hampshire (75)

250s East
Austin Forkner (52 points) (2 wins)
Justin Cooper (44)
Jordon Smith (42)
Chase Sexton (39)
Alex Martin (34)
Mitchell Oldenburg (34)

Top 5s

450 top 5s
Ken Roczen: 7
Marvin Musquin: 6
Eli Tomac: 5
Cooper Webb: 5
Blake Baggett: 3
Dean Wilson: 2
Joey Savatgy: 2
Jason Anderson: 1
Justin Barcia: 1
Justin Bogle: 1
Chad Reed: 1
Justin Brayton: 1

250 West top 5s
Adam Cianciarulo: 5
Shane McElrath: 5
Colt Nichols: 4
RJ Hampshire: 3
Dylan Ferrandis: 3
James Decotis: 2
Jacob Hayes: 1
Garrett Marchbanks: 1
Jess Pettis: 1

250 East top 5s
Austin Forkner: 2
Jordon Smith: 2
Justin Cooper: 2
Chase Sexton: 2
Alex Martin: 1
Martin Davalos: 1

Next race: February 23, Ford Field, Detroit, Mich.

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