No longer in plain black, the dragster added a mascot and some graphics this year.

The engine is the domain of Norm Grimes.

"We're never stellar, but we're consistent," Whiteley says, and he's half-right. He's the most recent winner on the NHRA tour, having wrapped up the 2011 season with a victory at the Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals, where he qualified No. 2 with a 5.30 and ran between 5.29 and 5.31 in all four rounds.

Whiteley joins defending event and series champ Duane Shields, 2010 Winternationals winner Chris Demke, and known leaver Joey Severence – all top five drivers in 2011 – as an odds-on favorite to win the season-opening O'Reilly Auto Parts Winternationals. With four victories in his last seven appearances at Pomona Raceway, including three in a row, and a crew chief who has five career titles at the Winternationals alone, maybe Whiteley is the favorite.