NHRA Story
National Dragster presents Tricky Tipster's Charlotte picks
Thursday, April 10, 2014


For more than five decades, the National Dragster staff has tested its prognosticating skills prior to each national event, putting odds on the top eight racers it thinks have the best shot at victory in Tricky Tipster, which is first posted on NationalDragster.net the Wednesday before each event, then on NHRA.com the following day. This week, Tricky Tipster handicaps the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals. Four-Wide Logo

TOP FUEL
Funny Car I Pro Stock I Pro Stock Motorcycle I Top Alcohol Dragster I Top Alcohol Funny Car
Doug Kalitta DOUG KALITTA
Mac Tools
Tipster is going to keep circling the mosh pit of the points leader until the band walks offstage. 2-1
  
Spencer Massey SPENCER MASSEY
Battery Extender
With wins at three out of the four races in the four-wide format, the Battery Extender team is the "King of the Quad." 3-1
  
Antron Brown ANTRON BROWN
Matco Tools
This is not an ebb-and-flow team. Week-in, week-out, they're going to be challenging for the Wally. 4-1
  
Tony Schumacher TONY SCHUMACHER
U.S. Army
"The Sarge" can be a little more at-ease after his battalion won the battle of Las Vegas. 5-1
  
Steve Torrence STEVE TORRENCE
Capco Contractor
He has had trouble getting past the third round this season. Good news, Steve-o: At this race, you don't have to. 6-1
  
Shawn Langdon SHAWN LANGDON
Al-Anabi Racing
The champ doesn't have momentum, but he does have Alan Johnson. Any team you ask would choose the latter. 8-1
  
Khalid alBalooshi KHALID ALBALOOSHI
Al-Anabi Racing
Friday qualifying has directly correlated to his Sunday finishes. He won Pomona from the top half but has scored one round-win in three bottom-half starts since. If he's in the top eight, watch out. 9-1
  
Richie Crampton RICHIE CRAMPTON
GEICO
The rookie will have to adapt to a Top Fuel event with twice the lanes. We think he's up to the challenge. 12-1
 

FUNNY CAR
Robert Hight ROBERT HIGHT
Auto Club
Ford
Has more wins than any other Funny Car driver at zMAX Dragway, and with the way his car is running, we see no reason he can’t become the class’ first repeat winner at the Four-Wide event. 3-1
  
John Force JOHN FORCE
Castrol GTX
Ford
Has definitely fallen off since his early domination, but we still believe he has one of the best cars in the class and is more than capable of a big rebound from his early Vegas exit. 4-1
  
Ron Capps RON CAPPS
NAPA Auto
Parts Dodge
As if back-to-back semi’s weren’t enough to prompt a high rating, we hear a post-Vegas test went extremely well and has this team very encouraged for this race and beyond. 6-1
  
Alexis DeJoria ALEXIS DEJORIA
Patron XO Café
Toyota
The Tipster was a little conflicted because her performance has been very up and down, but she is coming off a win, and Tommy DeLago has a pretty good history here, tuning Matt Hagan to the first three. 7-1
  
Jack Beckman JACK BECKMAN
Valvoline
Dodge
His final results this year don’t truly reflect the performance of his car, which has been steadily improving race to race. He just seems to get the tough race-day draws that end in close losses. 9-1
  
Cruz Pedregon CRUZ PEDREGON
Snap-on
Toyota
Has really started to gain steam, qualifying No. 1 in Gainesville and going to the semi’s in Las Vegas. There’s no reason to think the former Four-Wide runner-up can’t make it to the final again and even win. 10-1
  
Matt Hagan MATT HAGAN
Mopar/Rocky
Boots Dodge
Returning to last year’s combo proved a wise one when his team showed promise in qualifying. Now if they could only get that to transfer over to Sunday. 12-1
  
Chad Head CHAD HEAD
Head Inc.
Toyota
The unusual format of this race often yields unusual results, and no one understands that better than the Head family, which has two final-four appearances. Plus, don’t forget this group was No. 1 qualifier last year. 15-1
 

PRO STOCK
Erica Enders-Stevens ERICA ENDERS-STEVENS
Elite Motorsports
Chevy
It’s time for EE to win in Charlotte. She was runner-up at the Four-Wide race in 2012 and 2013. No other car/driver combo is as consistent as this duo right now. 2-1
  
Jason Line JASON LINE
Summit Racing
Chevy
At least one car from the KB Racing stable has gone to the final of every Four-Wide race, starting with the inaugural event in 2010. Line was also in the final of the fall race here last season. Book it — the blue car should be a lock to run in the money round. 5-2
  
Allen Johnson ALLEN JOHNSON
Team Mopar/
J&J Dodge
Which AJ will show up in North Carolina? In four races this season, he has a pair of first-round losses and two Wallys. Likely has more power than anybody in the class, just needs more consistency. 4-1
  
Jeg Coughlin Jr. JEG COUGHLIN JR.
JEGS.com/
Mopar Dodge
He just has to win a race at some point, right? Hard to believe the champ still hasn’t made it out of the second round this season. Jeg won the fall race here in 2013, though, so maybe he can channel some of that during his pre-race meditation. 6-1
  
Dave Connolly DAVE CONNOLLY
Charter
Communications
Chevy
Continues to be just outside the lead pack but definitely in the hunt. Teammate Shane Gray is also capable of going on a deep run and duplicating his final-round appearance at the 2013 Four-Wides. Yet, at a race where reaction time is usually paramount, Connolly is a safe bet. 13-2
  
Chris McGaha CHRIS MCGAHA
Harlow Sammons/
Southwest
Performance &
Machine Chevy
Looked like he had one of the cars to beat in Las Vegas, only to throw away low e.t. of the weekend with a red-light in the semi's. They have a strong handle on the tune-up, just need McG’s reaction times to improve — and for a Four-Wide rookie, that could be a challenge this weekend. 8-1
  
Vincent Nobile VINCENT NOBILE
Mountain View
Tire Chevy
Ranking may be too low here, but call it a hunch. After landing in the final at the 2011 and 2012 Four-Wide race, Nobile lost in the first round at both Charlotte races last season. Vegas troubles may also indicate a speed bump on the horizon. 10-1
  
V Gaines V. GAINES
Kendall Oil
Dodge
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. From leading the Pro Stock points just a few weeks ago, to now barely hanging on to a spot in Tipster’s rankings. Fans of V. have to hope testing goes well with the new Dart, and he brings his new ride to Houston. 14-1
 

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE
Matt Smith MATT SMITH
Matt Smith
Racing Buell
Didn’t win in Gainesville, but based on his performance, he should have. 3-1
  
Michael Ray MICHAEL RAY
Star Racing
Buell
Generally keeps cool under pressure; a real bonus in a four-wide event. 4-1
  
Andrew Hines ANDREW HINES
Screamin’ Eagle
Harley-Davidson
Even his competitors have noticed; leaner and meaner than last year. 5-1
  
Hector Arana Jr. HECTOR ARANA JR.
Lucas Oil
Buell
Can’t forget that he is the defending event champion here, which counts for something. 6-1
  
Eddie Krawiec EDDIE KRAWIEC
Screamin’ Eagle
Harley-Davidson
Should probably be ranked a bit higher but gonna take a “wait-and-see” approach. 8-1
  
Steve Johnson STEVE JOHNSON
Johnson Racing
Suzuki
Gainesville win only hinted at the potential of the new Suzuki engine combination. 9-1
  
John Hall JOHN HALL
Matt Smith
Racing Buell
Could easily have won in Gainesville. He’s turning into a very tough out. 11-1
  
Scotty Pollacheck SCOTTY POLLACHECK
Matt Smith
Racing Buell
Gainesville runner-up may have motivated him to continue pursuit of first win. 14-1
 

TOP ALCOHOL DRAGSTER
BILL REICHERT
Rislone/Bar's Leaks
This track has been the veteran A/Fuel racer's playground since it opened in 2008. 2-1
  
BRANDON BOOHER
AB Construction
Last time he raced here, he made one of the fastest runs by a blown car and walked away with his first big Wally. 3-1
  
JEFF VEALE
Caledonia Tire
The fastest A/Fuel driver on 95-percent nitro in history is making 280-mph runs like they're going out of style. 5-1
  
DUANE SHIELDS
Peak Motor Oil
The 2011 world champ is back to his winning ways after his double-whammy in Gainesville and the Central Region opener in Houston. 6-1
  
RANDY MEYER
Meyer Truck Stops
It's as though a switch was turned on during the East Region race in Richmond, Va., and he realized, "That's right. I'm Randy Meyer, and I can make an A/Fuel dragster run 5.20s at will." 7-1
  
RICH MCPHILLIPS
Audubon Service
The Eastern Pennsylvania gang nearly pulled off a second straight Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals win. 8-1
  
RICHARD BOURKE
Bourke Bros.
Nobody else in this field has won a national event in two classes, and he's won in three. He last scored here at the fall race in 2012. 10-1
  
JACKIE FRICKE
JC Auto/
Accelerated Travel
She's a good dark-horse pick after making it to the money round in regional action one week earlier. 11-1
 

TOP ALCOHOL FUNNY CAR
DALE BRAND
Goalsetter/Co-Line
Chevy
The reigning JEGS Allstars champ put Gainesville away in the file labeled "Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda." Following Nick Januik's Vegas win, he has a chance to make it two first-time winners in a row for Co-Line cylinder heads. 3-1
  
KRIS HOOL
CWYO.net/Wyoming
Chevy
He's been parading the Wyoming state flag all across the Southeast after a big win at the East Region event in Richmond, Va. 4-1
  
DAN POMPONIO
Pomponio Racing/Boninfante
Friction Chevy
This is the second title defense of his career, and the first one went as well as it could possibly go in Gainesville. He has a consistent car, and there isn't a better leaver in this field. 5-1
  
STEVE HARKER
Speed City/CAM2
Oil Chevy
The Australian transplant decided to give the fish in Lake Lanier a break to terrorize the alcohol ranks again with a barrage of low-5.50s. 6-1
  
ULF LEANDERS
Leanders Bros.
Chevy
The Swedish clutch manufacturer became the ninth driver in the 5.40s and made the ninth-fastest speed of all time during qualifying in Gainesville. 7-1
  
ANDY BOHL
Hedman/Competition
Products Ford
The driver/owner/tuner scored the first win of his career at this event in 2012. 8-1
  
JONNIE LINDBERG
Lindberg Bros.
Chevy
The number of big speeds the Swedish driver has run on passes where he had to pedal demonstrates the enormous performance potential of his race car. 9-1
  
TODD VENEY
Permatex/Follow A
Dream Chevy
His career-best performances in Gainesville should translate well to this all-concrete surface. 10-1