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Nitro-class qualifying trimmed to two days for NHRA Winternationals

Nitro-class qualifying trimmed to two days for NHRA Winternationals
Matt Hagen burns rubber while preparing for a funny car qualifying run at the 2013 Winternationals in Pomona. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Qualifying for the two elite classes of NHRA drag racing will be shortened to two days from three at this year's Circle K Winternationals in Pomona next month.

The sport's so-called nitro classes -- top fuel and funny cars, the 300-mph dragsters that use nitromethane fuel -- will have qualifying Feb. 7 and Feb. 8 at Auto Club Raceway.

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Each day will feature two rounds of qualifying runs for top fuel and funny cars, at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.

The qualifying rounds determine the 16 cars in each class that race in the final eliminations Feb. 9 to determine the event winners. The nitro eliminations start at 11 a.m.

This is the 54th annual Winternationals, which kicks off the season in the National Hot Rod Assn.'s premier Mello Yello Series, and the event formerly had three days of qualifying. But many of the series' other events already had only two days of qualifying for the nitro classes.

The defending champion in top fuel is Shawn Langdon and the defending funny car champion is 64-year-old John Force, who this year is seeking an unprecedented 17th title.

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