NHRA Story
National Dragster presents Tricky Tipster's Las Vegas picks
Thursday, March 27, 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 SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals. Las Vegas Logo

TOP FUEL
Funny Car I Pro Stock I Top Alcohol Dragster I Top Alcohol Funny Car
Doug Kalitta DOUG KALITTA
Mac Tools
You'd think he was a lead guitarist with all the mosh pits he has inspired. The points leader has the car to beat. 5-2
  
Antron Brown ANTRON BROWN
Matco Tools
If it's a tool war the Kalitta team wants, the 2012 Mello Yello champion says, "Socket to me." 3-1
  
Shawn Langdon SHAWN LANGDON
Al-Anabi Racing
He hasn't been to the semifinals yet this season or a final round at The Strip ever, but he's the champ for a reason. 4-1
  
Steve Torrence STEVE TORRENCE
Capco Contractors
He hasn't lost in either of the first two rounds yet this season. That is, quite literally, half the battle. 5-1
  
K alBalooshi KHALID alBALOOSHI
Al-Anabi Racing
The Pomona winner is back on a racetrack where he can showcase the horsepower of his hard-running maroon and gold entry. 7-1
  
David Grubnic DAVID GRUBNIC
Optima Batteries
He might have gone the distance in Gainesville if his teammate didn't get in the way. 8-1
  
Tony Schumacher TONY SCHUMACHER
U.S. Army
The defending event winner has seven victories at The Strip. 9-1
  
Brittany Force BRITTANY FORCE
Castrol Edge
She has a consistently quick dragster if she can qualify high enough to tilt the odds in her favor. 10-1
 

FUNNY CAR
Robert Hight ROBERT HIGHT
Auto Club Ford
Was strong en route to Gainesville win. Plus, there’s something about this event that agrees with him; his three wins are the most in Funny Car. 3-1
  
John Force JOHN FORCE
Castrol GTX Ford
Showed some vulnerability in Gainesville, but the rebound from qualifying struggles to race-day contender in Florida proves this team can strike at any time. 4-1
  
Courtney Force COURTNEY FORCE
Traxxas Ford
After bumpy start to 2014, regained form in Gainesville and went to semi’s. She also has a good history at this track, finishing as runner-up at both Vegas events last year. 7-1
  
Ron Capps RON CAPPS
NAPA Dodge
Only one of his class-leading five wins in Las Vegas has been at this event, but after his much-needed get-well weekend in Gainesville, we wouldn’t be surprised if he adds another. 8-1
  
Jack Beckman JACK BECKMAN
Valvoline Dodge
With the steady progress shown at the last two events, it seems that his Rob Flynn-led team is primed for a breakout performance at any moment. 10-1
  
Cruz Pedregon CRUZ PEDREGON
Snap-on Toyota
The defending event champ is coming off a strong Gainesville performance. That 4.06 Saturday afternoon was stout, and his first-round 4.10 was tied for fourth quickest of the round. 12-1
  
Bob Tasca III BOB TASCA III
Motorcraft/Quick
Lane Ford
He’s ranked fifth in points and didn’t get there by accident. Has been solid and steadily improving, evidenced by his No. 2 start in Gainesville. 13-1
  
Matt Hagan MATT HAGAN
Mopar/Rocky
Boots Dodge
Hasn’t done much the last two races, but we hear that after trying out a new combination, the team is reverting to last year’s setup, which, as you may recall, was pretty strong. 15-1
 

PRO STOCK
Allen Johnson ALLEN JOHNSON
Team Mopar/J&J
Dodge
Won here last year with a new car, won the most recent event this year with a new car. Don’t see anything stopping points leader from reaching his third straight final in 2014. 3-2
  
Erica Enders-Stevens ERICA ENDERS-STEVENS
Elite Motorsports
Chevy
Tipster was in early on EE before Gainesville, and now she’s the darling of the class after running low e.t. during each of the four rounds on Sunday in Florida. Went to the final here in 2013, strong bet to be there again. 2-1
  
Vincent Nobile VINCENT NOBILE
Mountain View
Tire Chevy
Three semifinals in three races thus far this year. If he can go one more round in Vegas, Nobile would be in his first money round since Seattle last year. 4-1
  
Dave Connolly DAVE CONNOLLY
Charter Communications
Chevy
D.C. not only qualified on the pole in Gainesville, he had one of the quickest and most consistent cars all weekend. Thus, Connolly remains the better bet to claim the first Wally of 2014 for Gray Motorsports. 5-1
  
Jason Line JASON LINE
Summit Racing
Chevy
Despite getting a red-light from his teammate at the Gators, Line remains a threat to win on race day – especially if he can find just a little more horsepower. Line’s usual "tuner" returns this weekend, so perhaps that will help. 7-1
  
Jeg Coughlin Jr. JEG COUGHLIN JR.
JEGS.com/
Mopar Dodge
After struggling mightily at the first few events, an off-the-trailer, jaw-dropping 6.484 in Gainesville showed that nobody should be shoveling dirt on Coughlin just yet. His five wins in Vegas are second only to Greg Anderson. 8-1
  
V. Gaines V. GAINES
Kendall Oil
Dodge
Although A.J. bumped him from the points lead, Gaines remains second after racking up a few more round-wins in Gainesville. A win here would give the Mean Teeth Tour a little more bite. 10-1
  
Jimmy Alund JIMMY ALUND
Summit Racing
Chevy
Has shown steady improvement Stateside. Likely needs to push his way into the top half of the field before claiming a Wally as nobody has come from ninth or lower to win on race day since Connolly at the 2012 Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals. 18-1
 

TOP ALCOHOL DRAGSTER
JOEY SEVERANCE
J&A Service
He won the West Region event here last weekend. Jim Whiteley's horsepower, Joey Sr.'s experience, and his driving skills are a tough trio. 2-1
  
CHRIS DEMKE
Peen-Rite/OSI/
Boost Performance
His dominating performance at the Circle K NHRA Winternationals shows what he's capable of if he can shake the shakes. 3-1
  
JOHNNY AHTEN
Island Renovations/
Combust Filters
In an argument against those who claim that the premier A/Fuel cars aren't on the West Coast, we present Mr. Ahten as Exhibit A. 4-1
  
DON ST. ARNAUD
A&J Construction
He's one of the best A/Fuel leavers in the country, and his car has elite power on the top end. 6-1
  
GARRETT BATEMAN
HipLink
Rick Henkelman's A/Fueler has shown enormous potential, and the versatile driver knows how to wheel it. 7-1
  
MEGAN McKERNAN
Truck-Lite/Davco
Jerry Darien's car showed signs of life with a strong performance in Pomona. 9-1
  
JAMES STEVENS
Performance Truck
The Nebraska driver finished third in the Central Region standings last year and should be a factor with his blown combination. 11-1
  
ASHLEY SANFORD
Gelish/America's Best
The popular second-year driver has a lot of supporters and tuner Tom Conway in her corner. 12-1
 

TOP ALCOHOL FUNNY CAR
BRIAN HOUGH
Hough Racing Ford
The resurgent driver began the year two for two with wins in Pomona and at the West Region opener in Phoenix. 3-1
  
JAY PAYNE
Peak Motor Oil/
FireIce Ford
The veteran driver won the recent Central Region race in Houston. He has won four times at his favorite track on the tour. 4-1
  
CLINT THOMPSON
Thompson Racing
Chevy
The savvy racer set low e.t. at the West Region event one week earlier with most of the same players in attendance. 5-1
  
SHANE WESTERFIELD
CP-Carrillo Chevy
Nobody in the class is entering the race with more momentum after he won the West Region event on the same track one week earlier. 6-1
  
JOHN LOMBARDO JR.
NAPA/Lucas Oil Ford
Rick Jackson's team won five straight national events at The Strip by sweeping them in 2011 and 2012 and winning the 2013 spring event. 7-1
  
SEAN BELLEMEUR
MasterCAM Chevy
He has been to five final rounds and performed well in the cockpit each time. His day will come. 8-1
  
JIRKA KAPLAN
Bearspaw Petroleum Ford
The Les Davenport-tuned, torque converter-equipped car won in Topeka last season. 9-1
  
NICK JANUIK
Torco Fuels/Liberty
Heating Chevy
The former sand racer skipped the 5.6s altogether and became a 5.5-second player in Pomona. 10-1