Force scores first win for more than a year
The most successful drivers in NHRA’s nitro classes, John Force and Tony Schumacher, scored their first wins of 2016 at the Mopar Mile-High Nationals near Denver, as Allen Johnson and Andrew Hines also took victories.
Force defeated his daughter Courtney in a close Funny Car final which saw his Chevrolet Camaro complete the 1000ft in 3.965 seconds at 319.45mph, beating her similar car’s figures of 3.963 at 314.75. It was the elder Force’s first win of the season, seventh at Denver and 144th of his career. Force hadn’t won a race since June 2015
“I didn’t have a monkey on my back, it was a gorilla,” said Force, the 16-time world champ who at age 67 becomes the oldest driver in NHRA history to win a Funny Car race. “Let’s face it, the competition is the best I’ve ever seen. It’s tough to race my little girl there and it was a close one.
“I can do this game. I love it. I don’t have anywhere to go. I am going to keep doing this. I want to keep building this sport.”
Force, who also made history earlier in the weekend by clocking the first three-second Funny Car run ever at Bandimere Speedway, outran Jeff Diehl, Matt Hagan and defending world champ Del Worsham to advance to the final.
Schumacher, an eight-time world champ, also snapped his lengthy winless streak and claimed his first win of the season, third at Denver and 82nd of his career. He outran the defending world champ, Antron Brown, in the final round with a run of 3.802 at 324.28 in the U.S. Army dragster. Brown’s Matco Tools dragster slowed near mid-track and finished in 5.199 at 144.75. Schumacher, who climbed to fifth in the points order with the victory, hadn’t won since July 2015 in Chicago.
“To win one of these trophies you have to beat some bad dudes, and we beat a bunch of them today from Doug Kalitta to Antron Brown,” said Schumacher, who outran Kalitta in round one, top qualifier Steve Torrence in the quarterfinals and Clay Millican in the semis to advance to the titan final round meeting with Brown. “I’ve enjoyed great moments in racing during my career, but coming back from a huge deficit when people have counted you out is the most satisfying to me.”
With the runner-up finish, his sixth final round of the season, Brown maintained the points lead, 57 over second place Kalitta.
In Pro Stock, Johnson continued his long run of success at Bandimere Speedway and finally broke the 13-race winning streak of KB Racing. He powered his Marathon Petroleum Dodge Dart to a 6.982 at 197.34 to hold off the Mountain View Tire Chevy Camaro of Vincent Nobile, which trailed with a 7.037 at 196.82.
“We stunk the place up all weekend during qualifying,” said Johnson, who raced past Drew Skillman, defending world champ Erica Enders and Summit Racing stalwart Greg Anderson to return to the final. “I wouldn’t have given us a one percent chance to win all weekend. The magic up here is just on our side for some reason. We’ve done it for Mopar all those years and now we get to do it for Marathon and Mopar.”
He said his semifinal win over Anderson was especially sweet. Anderson and points leader Jason Line, who lost in the semis to Nobile, combined to win the first 13 races of the season.
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE
Hines became the winningest Pro Stock Motorcycle rider in history, capturing his 45th career win by outrunning teammate Eddie Krawiec in the final round. Hines took his third win of the season and fourth at this event by posting a track record time of 7.134 at 188.33 on his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson to hold off Krawiec’s Screamin’ Eagle Harley, which trailed with a 7.148 at 187.21.
It was the third consecutive final round appearance for five-time and defending world champ Hines, who defeated Scotty Pollacheck, Cory Reed and LE Tonglet to advance to the final.
“It doesn’t get much better racing up here in the mountain as the thin air requires a different setup,” said Hines, who trimmed Krawiec’s points lead to 109. “Coming back to win on the mountain, it means a lot. My team has had my motorcycle really dialed in right now. It is our third final in a row and I am just riding the wave. I don’t think I’ve ever put eight runs like that together in a weekend. The bike is such a joy to ride right now.”
Final finish order at 37th annual Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals at Bandimere Speedway
TOP FUEL: 1. Tony Schumacher; 2. Antron Brown; 3. Clay Millican; 4. J.R. Todd; 5. Shawn Langdon; 6. Richie Crampton; 7. Brittany Force; 8. Steve Torrence; 9. Doug Kalitta; 10. Scott Palmer; 11. Chris Karamesines; 12. Bill Litton; 13. Terry Haddock; 14. Rob Passey; 15. Leah Pritchett; 16. Terry McMillen.
Final: Tony Schumacher, 3.802 seconds, 324.28 mph def. Antron Brown, 5.199 seconds, 144.75 mph.
FUNNY CAR: 1. John Force; 2. Courtney Force; 3. Robert Hight; 4. Del Worsham; 5. Tommy Johnson Jr.; 6. Matt Hagan; 7. John Hale; 8. Ron Capps; 9. Jack Beckman; 10. Alexis DeJoria; 11. Todd Simpson; 12. Chad Head; 13. Cruz Pedregon; 14. Jim Campbell; 15. Jeff Diehl; 16. Tim Wilkerson.
Final: John Force, Chevy Camaro, 3.965, 319.45 def. Courtney Force, Camaro, 3.963, 314.75.
PRO STOCK: 1. Allen Johnson; 2. Vincent Nobile; 3. Jason Line; 4. Greg Anderson; 5. Bo Butner; 6. Alex Laughlin; 7. Erica Enders; 8. Chris McGaha; 9. Shane Gray; 10. Jeg Coughlin; 11. Richie Stevens; 12. Drew Skillman; 13. Deric Kramer; 14. Matt Hartford; 15. Alan Prusiensky.
Final: Allen Johnson, Dodge Dart, 6.982, 197.39 def. Vincent Nobile, Chevy Camaro, 7.037, 196.82.
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: 1. Andrew Hines; 2. Eddie Krawiec; 3. Jerry Savoie; 4. LE Tonglet; 5. Angelle Sampey; 6. Chip Ellis; 7. Cory Reed; 8. Matt Smith; 9. Hector Arana Jr; 10. Shawn Gann; 11. Tyler Fisher; 12. Karen Stoffer; 13. Angie Smith; 14. Michael Ray; 15. Scotty Pollacheck; 16. Hector Arana.
Final: Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 7.134, 188.33 def. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 7.148, 187.21.
Point standings after 14 of 24 events in NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series
Top Fuel: 1. Antron Brown, 1,145; 2. Doug Kalitta, 1,088; 3. Steve Torrence, 982; 4. Brittany Force, 953; 5. Tony Schumacher, 916; 6. Shawn Langdon, 800; 7. J.R. Todd, 799; 8. Clay Millican, 681; 9. Richie Crampton, 660; 10. Leah Pritchett, 553.
Funny Car: 1. Ron Capps, 1,120; 2. Courtney Force, 998; 3. Jack Beckman, 976; 4. Matt Hagan, 881; 5. (tie) Robert Hight, 877; Del Worsham, 877; 7. Tommy Johnson Jr., 855; 8. John Force, 821; 9. Tim Wilkerson, 793; 10. Alexis DeJoria, 733.
Pro Stock: 1. Jason Line, 1,548; 2. Greg Anderson, 1,466; 3. Bo Butner, 955; 4. Allen Johnson, 885; 5. Vincent Nobile, 758; 6. Drew Skillman, 753; 7. Chris McGaha, 661; 8. Shane Gray, 658; 9. Jeg Coughlin, 613; 10. Alex Laughlin, 595.
Pro Stock Motorcycle: 1. Eddie Krawiec, 742; 2. Andrew Hines, 633; 3. Angelle Sampey, 534; 4. Jerry Savoie, 500; 5. Chip Ellis, 386; 6. Hector Arana, 375; 7. LE Tonglet, 364; 8. Matt Smith, 290; 9. Steve Johnson, 268; 10. Michael Ray, 262.
Torrence, C. Force, Laughlin and Hines earn No. 1 qualifying positions at Mile-High Nationals
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