Auto Club Raceway at Pomona
February 18-20, 2022
Being with a new team at TSR, does the start of this season feel different?
“I haven’t felt any two seasons feel the same at the start of the year, but this one is most definitely the largest difference. A new racecar, a new group of crew members, a new co-crew chief, Neal Strausbaugh’s first season as a crew chief – I’m used to change so all these things bring comfort in their newness. What I’m not used to, but have always had a desire for, was to race with my spouse. This one happens to be my team owner, but also the new feeling has been operating in the management structure of this organization and taking on and sharing new responsibilities. To say it’s business as usual would be far from correct and, until I put on the helmet for the first time during a race event, I can’t say exactly what will be different, but I already know it will be, and I expect to enjoy our successes even more than before.”
For the novice drag racing fan, why is Pomona such a legendary and prominent venue for the NHRA?
“Professional drag racing is rooted in Southern California, and Pomona has been the foundation, literally, of generations of drag racing legends. SoCal may no longer be the physical center of the highest tier of drag racing as it once was – as that is now Brownsburg, Indiana – but the magic of its location and the heritage it holds is still undeniable.”
Explain the nuances of drag racing at Pomona. Is it like any of the other venues on the NHRA circuit, or does it have enough characteristics that make it unique?
“I might be biased, but I think it’s the most gorgeous track on the circuit. It’s surrounded by palm trees, purple mountain majesties, and an incredible Mexican food joint on the corner there at opposite end of the NHRA museum. Pomona is ground zero for NHRA drag racing, and it’s also where I began racing at just age 8. From the tower where I sang the national anthem as a kid, to hanging in the bleachers as a teenager with my friends, to roaming the pits, excited if I knew anyone on a team or got to take home a clutch disc or connecting rod, that was my life, and those memories came from Pomona. I’ve won there before in Top Fuel, and I didn’t think it could get any bigger than that moment, but that was because of what I didn’t know. With what I know now, if we can duplicate that same success from 2018 in our Dodge Power Brokers Top Fuel Dragster, it will be a new milestone for me at Pomona, no doubt.”
Climate and weather play a big part in dialing in your dragster. What do you deal with at Pomona to get your car right?
“We’re back to our regularly scheduled Winternationals programming, being in February as opposed to July where it was last year, so that’s ideal for us. We prefer the cooler, drier conditions for making maximum horsepower, and that’s what it looks like we’ll get this weekend. The new Pomona surface will take some time to get worked in, which is probably why they have cars starting to run on Wednesday. Pomona has a reputation for creating world-record conditions, and I think the new track surface will help that for the second race of the season, and for running later in the evening. This weekend we will be running in the afternoon instead of at night, which is really where those record conditions are at.”
Source: True Speed Communication on behalf of Tony Stewart Racing