The 2015 NHRA Season opened with the 55th annual Circle K/NHRA Winter Nationals in Pomona at the LA County Fairplex. Throughout qualifying, 70 degree plus temperatures and overcast skies prevailed, producing some of the best conditions seen in a while for some great on track performances. But, just as the final rounds of professional qualifying arrived, the overcast skies turned into rain, cancelling the fourth and final qualifying session. Thus, the final elimination fields would be set after just three highly competitive sessions of qualifying.
In Top Fuel, Shawn Langdon led the way with the quickest official time in NHRA history at 3.700 seconds. Langdon, driving the Alan Johnson Racing top fuel dragster, is followed by Ritchie Crampton in the GEICO dragster (3.730 seconds), Doug Kalitta in the MAC Tools dragster (3.733 seconds), Spencer Massey in the Red Fuel dragster (3.741 seconds), with Steve Torrence in the CAPCO Contractors dragster (3.751 seconds) rounding out the top five. Brittany Force in her John Force Racing dragster (3.779 seconds) and Leah Pritchett in her GUMOUT/Dote Racing dragster (3/789 seconds) captured the 8th and 9th positions, representing the powerful competitive presence of women in the sport.
Top Fuel also featured some big speeds, with Massey leading the way at 332.18 mph. As in Top Fuel, the Funny Car class also featured some highly talented women and Courtney Force led everyone with the only sub-four second funny car run in qualifying with a 3.995 at 322.65 mph in her Traxxas/Chevy Camaro SS. Tommy Johnson Jr in the Make-A-Wish Dodge (4.018 seconds), John Force in his Peak Antifreeze/Chevy Camaro SS (4.021 seconds), Cruz Pedregon in his Snap-On Tools/Toyota Camry (4.027 seconds) and Tony Pedregon in his Mark Christopher Auto Center/Toyota Camry (4.030 seconds) round out the top fvie qualifiers. Alexis DeJoria in her PATRON XO Café’ Incendio/Toyota Camry is qualified 11th at 4.085 seconds.
In a surprising note, Jack Beckman, the 2012 Funny Car world champion, failed to qualify in his Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger R/T with his new crew chief team of (ex-John Force Racing crew chiefs) Jimmy Prock and John Medlen. It was not the season debut they were looking for, as the car suffered a huge super charger explosion as it launched off the starting line on its third (and what turned out to be final) qualifying attempt.
In 2014, Erica Enders-Stevens became the first woman to win a Pro Stock national event title and first to claim a season championship in the Pro Stock category. She came in favored to not only win several events, but also to possibly repeat as a season champion. She ran 6.513 at 213.10 mph to capture the top spot, going into final eliminations. She is followed by Jason Line in his Summit Racing Equipment/Chevy Camaro (6.523 seconds), Roger Brogdon in his RoofTech/Chevy Camaro (6.524 seconds), Drew Skillman in his Ray Skillman Chevy Camaro (6.527 seconds) with Vincent Nobile in his Mountain View Tire/Chevy Camaro (6.531 seconds) rounding out the top five, going into the final eliminations.