POMONA, Calif. --
The season-opening event of what promises to be an action-packed 24-race schedule will be the perfect opportunity for dedicated NHRA fans to reconnect with their favorite drivers and continue to make memories they will carry with them for a lifetime. Many drivers will be sporting new sponsors, paint schemes and new crew members and this event will allow fans to see the new combinations early in the competitive season.
Fans will also be treated to a sensory overload environment with the sights and sounds of the tradition-rich event as drivers rocket down the track at speeds of more than 320 mph in an attempt to join the prestigious list of O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals winners.
Defending Top Fuel world champion Antron Brown returns to the site where he clinched his first historic championship last November. His focus is set on a second championship at the controls of his Matco Tools dragster, but Tony Schumacher, Morgan Lucas, Doug Kalitta, Brandon Bernstein and Shawn Langdon will all be looking to unseat him from his throne during the season. The Top Fuel class will grow this season as rookie Brittany Force, daughter of drag racing legend John Force, makes her historic debut in Top Fuel behind the wheel of the Castrol Edge dragster.
The Funny Car category is up for grabs with defending event winner John Force looking to join Pro Stock legend Bob Glidden with seven wins at the season-opening Winternationals. Force got his 134th career Funny Car victory here one year ago and will once again look to get out of the gate with a fast start in his Castrol GTX Ford Mustang as he is reunited with talented crew chief Mike Neff. Defending world champion Jack Beckman along with last season's runner-up Ron Capps, four-time winner Robert Hight, rookie of the year Courtney Force and returning driver Del Worsham will make an early season push towards a championship when the Christmas Tree flashes yellow for the first time in 2013.
Allen Johnson is fresh off his Pro Stock world championship in the factory hot rod class and knows now that it is a clean slate going into the year for his Team Mopar Dodge Avenger and his fellow competitors will be gunning for him this season. Two-time world champ Jason Line finished second in the points last season, while Erica Enders-Stevens had a breakout 2012 season with four victories, and Vincent Nobile will once again be a serious contender for a Winternationals victory as well as a world championship title.
As always, fans will have the opportunity to interact with their favorite drivers as they're granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet.
Pro qualifying begins on Thursday, Feb. 14 with the first session at 2 p.m., followed by another qualifying session on Friday, Feb. 15 at 2 p.m. The final two qualifying sessions will take place Saturday, Feb. 16 at Noon and 2 p.m. Final eliminations begin at 11 a.m. on Sunday, Feb. 17. Television coverage will be provided by ESPN2 HD.
To purchase general admission, reserved seat or Top Eliminator Club tickets, please visit www.NHRATIX.com or call the NHRA Ticket Sales Center at (800) 884-NHRA. Tickets for children 12 and under are free with any paid adult ticket. For more information about NHRA, please visit www.NHRA.com.
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