Still, all in all, it was a success for the 14-time champion and his team. “It was a good day and a great weekend,” said Force, who lost to Cruz Pedregon. “My job was to put four cars in the show. It was a lot of work over the last week putting all the stuff together. For the initial kickoff, everything went well.” He was also proud of his daughter’s performance against Hight. “She didn’t do anything crazy, like go over the wall,” said Force of Ashley’s initial round of competition. “She got after it and got sideways.” Ashley said she thought she might have made a mistake as Hight suffered mechanical woes after she shut her Mustang off. Both Force and his daughter Ashley were eliminated in the first round in Funny Car, and teammate Eric Medlen was put on the hauler in the second round. Robert Hight reached the finals and had the better car, but was disqualified against eventual winner Gary Scelzi. NHRA NOTEBOOK POMONA – Unlike the day before when the stress of the NHRA Powerade Drag Racing Series season opener was reflected on his face, John Force was surprisingly calm after a first-round defeat at the Winternationals. Photo Galleries: • New: 47th annual CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals, 02/12 • New: NHRA Winternationals, Pomona, 02/12 “I saw (Hight) slow and I said, `You gotta be kidding me. I made the wrong decision,”‘ Ashley said. “But (crew chief) Guido (Antonelli) said we were too far behind to catch Robert and that I made the right decision. We didn’t have a good chance of catching him but had a good chance of blowing an engine. “Of course, Dad always says to blow up everything you need to, to get down the track.” LOCAL WINNERS Jay Payne of Claremont and Chino’s Clark Holroyd were sportsmen winners at the event, with Payne repeating his alcohol Funny Car win of 2006 while Holroyd won Stock for the second time in three national events. “Sometimes, you’d rather be lucky than good,” said Payne, who was top qualifier at the Auto Club Finals last fall but lost in the first round. “This is the way we started last year, but we didn’t capitalize on it (he failed to win another event).” Payne won when Sean Bellemuer of Fullerton crossed the centerline in the finals. Bellemuer had a 0.051-second advantage off the starting line before his infraction. Holroyd finally defeated Tibor Kadar of Peoria, Ariz., after three straight finals losses to him. Holroyd won at Las Vegas last fall and advanced four rounds at the Auto Club Finals. “This is my 15th year with the car (a 1968 Chevy Nova). I was on cloud nine when I got best engineering car, but this is pretty good.” Holroyd, who put a new motor in the car last week, ran 10.426 seconds at 123.27 mph for the win against Kadar’s 12.084 at 105.99. UPSET SPECIAL The shocker of the day was Tony Schumacher’s first-round loss to No. 16 qualifier Joe Hartley. Schumacher, who led Top Fuel qualifying, is also the defending three-time class champion but lost traction at midtrack to lose early for the second straight year. It’s not the end of the world, but it still is disappointing,” Schumacher said. “This race sort of sets the tone. You always want to start the season on a good note and, unfortunately, it did not happen. “This is a sport that can turn on you in a hurry. Look at what took place last year for us. We struggled for much of the first half of the year and then we suddenly took off and eventually won the title.” PIT STOPS Hillary Will, who survived a spectacular crash during testing in Las Vegas last weekend, suffered more disappointment in her first-round Top Fuel run. A broken clutch linkage prevented her from putting her car in reverse after the burnout against Doug Kalitta. “This has never happened to us before,” Will said. … Despite his second-round loss to Jeff Arend, Ron Capps was upbeat for the day. “The one bright spot is my daughter Taylor called and they won their cheerleading event. So, it’s the first time she hasn’t been here in Pomona. That’s exciting. That made the day a little bit better.”… Hight ended Arend’s storybook day with an eye-popping 4.646. “The car shook, and I pedaled it really quickly to give it a shot, but Hight looked like he was shot out of a cannon,” Arend said. “I mean, he was gone. There was no use tearing anything up with him flying away like that, so I lifted, but let me tell you, on our best day we weren’t going to beat a 4.64. Nobody was going to beat a 4.64. When they throw something like that at you, all you can do is get out of the car and shake the guy’s hand. That was incredible.” 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!