Title No. 5 For Jeg Coughlin Jr.
In Funny Car, Hagan gained a bit of revenge by defeating arch-rival Force in a marquee final round pairing between the top two points finishers. Hagan, who won the race without the assistance of crew chief Dickie Venables who was recuperating in Indianapolis after a recent medical procedure, posted a 4.018 at 320.66 in his Magneti Marelli/Rocky Boots Dodge Charger to edge the 16-time series champ’s Castrol GTX Ford Mustang at the finish.
“I’m on cloud nine that our assistant crew chief stepped up and was able to fill some big shoes,” Hagan said. “Dickie Venables was sick this weekend, and Mike Knudsen has never tuned a race car and had to jump in here, and there hasn’t been a crew chief [from another team] up in our lounge. I mean, this guy has done a phenomenal job. It just shows you when something happens someone else can step up and take the reins and run with it.”
Hagan earned his 10th career victory and second at this event by also outrunning Alexis DeJoria, Johnny Gray and Cruz Pedregon in earlier rounds. Hagan, who led the series standings for much of the season, finished second to Force for the second time (also 2010).
“My guys have been working so hard; I’m so proud of them,” said the 2011 world champ who moonlights as a cattle rancher in his native Virginia. “I wish we could have won the championship, but that goes to John this year. I’m young in this sport, and I’ll just come in and fight for it next year.”
Jones scored an emotional first career victory in Pro Stock, defeating defending world champ Allen Johnson in the final round. The 26-year-old driver, who became the ninth different winner in the competitive category, used a reaction time advantage and clocked a 6.584 at 210.28 in his Elite Motorsports Chevy Camaro to hold off Johnson’s quicker, but losing Team Mopar Dodge Avenger, which finished in 6.581 at 211.03.
Jones outran Matt Hartford, four-time champ Greg Anderson and Buddy Perkinson to advance to his fourth career final round. He broke down as he was climbing out of his car in the shut down area.
“Man, it was so emotional,” Jones said. “You work for something so long, driving the race truck across the country, and keep beating on it. This is what I’ve always wanted since I was racing junior dragsters when I was 10. It seemed like it took forever for the win light to come on, and when it did, there were so many tears in my eyes that I almost couldn’t see the turnoff road. To get my first win at the Finals at Pomona, which is one of the biggest races of the year, is really awesome.”
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, defending world champ Krawiec claimed his third win in his sixth consecutive final round at this event when he rode his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson to a performance of 6.918 at 192.41 to deny Scotty Pollacheck his first win. Pollacheck trailed with a 6.963 at 193.57 on his Quality Tire Buell.
“It was an awesome day,” Krawiec said. “I’m fortunate that this race track has been my house. That’s the way I look at it. I do the best I can to not let anyone else win here. The odd stat is that I’ve won here every year that I’ve lost the championship, and won this race in years when I’ve lost the championship. I guess that it’s a good way to cap the season either way.”
Krawiec, who finished the season in third place in the standings, outran Steve Johnson, John Hall and Michael Ray en route to taking his second victory of the season and 22nd of his career. He celebrated the win with several Harley-Davidson execs, including Willie G (Davidson), the icon of Harley-Davidson Motorcycles.
“I look up to him for what he’s done in the sport,” Krawiec said. “He has a long history of success in motorcycle racing. I ended up giving him the race-win Wally. He has everything he’s ever wanted, but he didn’t have a Wally. That was just a small token of my appreciation for him.”