NHRA Story
National Dragster presents Tricky Tipster's Epping picks
Thursday, June 19, 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 Auto-Plus NHRA New England Nationals. New England Nationals Logo
TOP FUEL
Funny Car I Pro Stock I Pro Stock Motorcycle
Shawn Langdon SHAWN LANGDON
Al-Anabi Racing
The champ put his relatively slow start to his title defense in the rearview mirror with a win in Bristol. 3-1
  
Doug Kalitta DOUG KALITTA
Mac Tools
The points leader has reached the final round at six of 10 events this year. His next round-win will be No. 500. 4-1
  
Antron Brown ANTRON BROWN
Matco Tools
He seemed to find his groove in Bristol with some new pipe. Nobody has won more races than he has this year. 5-1
  
Spencer Massey SPENCER MASSEY
Battery Extender
Here's the list of all the Top Fuel winners at this event: Spencer Massey. That's it. He would like to keep it that way. 6-1
  
Tony Schumacher TONY SCHUMACHER
U.S. Army
"The Sarge" would like to add New England Dragway to the extensive list of tracks he has conquered. He looked strong in Bristol. 7-1
  
Brittany Force BRITTANY FORCE
Castrol Edge
Oddly, three of her last four losses were to part-timers (Pat Dakin, Morgan Lucas, and Chris Karamesines). Key to victory: Avoid Dom Lagana at all costs. 8-1
  
J.R. Todd J.R. TODD
Optima Batteries
He hasn't lost in the first round from the bottom half of the field but is 2-3 in the first round from the top half. Basically, his previous performance gives no clear indication of whether he'll sink or swim. 9-1
  
Steve Torrence STEVE TORRENCE
Capco Contractors
We don't expect his recent skid of three straight first-round losses to continue. The performance is still there. 10-1
 

FUNNY CAR
Robert Hight ROBERT HIGHT
Auto Club Ford
The class is so unpredictable right now that picking a winner is tough, so we’re going to stand by what we’ve said before: Until someone else really proves he or she belongs No. 1, the points leader is staying here. 3-1
  
Tommy Johnson Jr. TOMMY JOHNSON JR.
Make-A-Wish
Dodge
Was very, very good en route to victory on the hot Bristol Dragway track, and considering those are the conditions we should see for a while, that is very, very bad news for everyone else. 4-1
  
Ron Capps RON CAPPS
NAPA Dodge
We realize he lost in the first round in Bristol, but what he did before that really impressed us. He had the best car through qualifying at Thunder Valley. 6-1
  
Alexis DeJoria ALEXIS DeJORIA
Patrón XO Café
Toyota
She’s not going rounds as steadily as she was earlier in the year, but more times than not, her car is strong. If her team can regain some consistency, she could do some serious damage. 7-1
  
Tim Wilkerson TIM WILKERSON
Levi, Ray & Shoup
Ford
He didn’t luck into his runner-up finish in Bristol. All weekend, his car looked pretty solid and sometimes downright spectacular (hello, 4.01). 8-1
  
Del Worsham DEL WORSHAM
DHL Toyota
Have we mentioned lately he’s a win just waiting to happen? Yeah, that still hasn’t changed. He’s done pretty much everything but seal the deal on Sunday. 10-1
  
Matt Hagan MATT HAGAN
Mopar/Rocky
Boots Dodge
We’re not quite ready to declare that he is back, but it appears that Dickie Venables is definitely getting there. Three of his four Bristol qualifying runs were 4.1s, and he was third-quickest of the first round. 12-1
  
Courtney Force COURTNEY FORCE
Traxxas Ford
Four drivers could legitimately be in this spot — Force; her dad, John; Cruz Pedregon; and Jack Beckman — but we’re going with the defending event champ, who had more good runs than bad last weekend. 13-1
 

PRO STOCK
Erica Enders-Stevens ERICA ENDERS-STEVENS
Elite Motorsports
Chevy
Perhaps pep talks from Bob Glidden and Shirley Muldowney was all that was needed to steer EE back in the right direction. This may be her first time racing in Epping, but every driver in the class will tell you the power being produced by the Elite gang is the envy of the pits. 2-1
  
Jeg Coughlin Jr. JEG COUGHLIN JR.
JEGS.com/Mopar
Dodge
Went to the semi’s here last year after qualifying No. 1. Jeg has also found his consistency of late — the red-light in Bristol isn’t a concern. Had low e.t. all three rounds he raced in eliminations last weekend. If there’s another safe bet outside of the red Camaro above, it’s the yellow and black Dart. 3-1
  
Allen Johnson ALLEN JOHNSON
Team Mopar/
J&J Dodge
Using his almost uncanny pattern this year of wins followed by first-round exits, A.J. should win here. And why not, the class is as wide open as it has been all year. In some ways, it seems that getting past the second round is the biggest challenge. He’s the defending event champ, though; maybe that counts for something. 5-1
  
Jason Line JASON LINE
Summit Racing
Chevy
The blue Camaro isn’t quite as inconsistent as A.J., but Line should have found the winner’s circle a second time by now. This car is often among the lead pack in qualifying but the team hasn’t had the breaks fall its way on race day in quite some time. We smell a win coming soon. 6-1
  
Vincent Nobile VINCENT NOBILE
Mountain View
Tire Chevy
We were quietly impressed with Nobile last weekend. The car went down the track all four runs in qualifying, and he got by his new buddy Shane Tucker in the first round. This team is real close to returning to its form of last year. When it gets there, watch out. 9-1
  
Shane Gray SHANE GRAY
Gray Manufacturing
Chevy
Although he doesn’t want to talk about it, Gray hasn’t lost in the first round since Indy 2013. Still, this has to be the most confusing car/driver combo in the entire class. They kill it in testing, and they destroyed qualifying in Bristol, including setting both ends of the track record. Then they had little to show for it on Sunday. 10-1
  
Greg Anderson GREG ANDERSON
Summit Racing
Chevy
We were this close to leaving him out of the top eight this week; by his own admission last weekend, they just don’t have it all together right now. Further, you’re fighting an uphill battle when you qualify in the lower half of the field. They will turn it around, but when? 14-1
  
Shane Tucker SHANE TUCKER
Auzmet Architectural
Chevy
It came down to a flip of the coin. Jonathan Gray just as easily could have been slotted here coming off his runner-up last weekend. However, there’s something to be said for Tucker’s new engine deal with Elite. Call it a hunch, but with a break or two, we see the Aussie going to the semi’s in his New England debut. 18-1
 

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE
Eddie Krawiec EDDIE KRAWIEC
Screamin’ Eagle
Harley-Davidson
The Screamin’ Eagle V-Rods have been nothing short of dominant in the last three races, and there’s no real reason to think they aren’t on track for another 1-2 finish in Epping even though Krawiec and teammate Andrew Hines did not score well at this event last season. 3-1
  
Andrew Hines ANDREW HINES
Screamin’ Eagle
Harley-Davidson
Why is he ranked behind his teammate? No real reason. Their bikes are generally equal, and Andrew is having one of his best seasons as a rider. In fact, they should be listed as co-favorites. 3-1
  
Matt Smith MATT SMITH
Smith Racing
Buell
Although his early results don’t show it, this should be the third-best bike in the class. Smith, the reigning NHRA Mello Yello world champion, should have won a race by now, but a series of unrelated incidents have prevented him from realizing his potential. That could easily change this weekend. 5-1
  
John Hall JOHN HALL
B.R.A.K.E.S.
Buell
When he won the inaugural Epping event last season, everyone assumed it was because he was racing at his home track. Technically, that’s not true because Hall spent most of his time racing in Englishtown. Still, he’s off to a great start, and he’s more than capable of winning this race again. 6-1
  
Hector Arana Jr. HECTOR ARANA JR.
Lucas Oil
Buell
Though the three-bike Arana team hasn’t gotten off to the start it wanted in 2014, Hector Jr. certainly isn’t to blame. He’s held up his end with several solid performances, including a pair of 6.77-second runs at the most recent event in Englishtown. 8-1
  
Michael Ray MICHAEL RAY
Star Racing
Buell
Another rider who probably should have won a race this year but hasn’t. He has a bike that can and should qualify in the top half, so it’s likely just a matter of time before he banks his first win of the season. 9-1
  
Jerry Savoie JERRY SAVOIE
White Alligator
Suzuki
After its performance in Englishtown, where the White Alligator squad made two of the sport’s quickest Suzuki runs with a pair of 6.82s, this could easily be NHRA’s next first-time Pro winner. 10-1
  
Scotty Pollacheck SCOTTY POLLACHECK
Quality Tire
Buell
Things are apparently looking up for the Oregon-based rider as he’s rumored to be getting a boost in funding, which could be the last missing piece of the puzzle that nets his first win. 15-1