Brittany Force clinches Top Fuel in strange Brainerd final
Brittany Force took victory at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd, Minnesota, as Del Worsham (Funny Car), Drew Skillman (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also grabbed wins in the penultimate round of the ‘regular’ season.
Force powered her Monster Energy dragster to a 4.169-second pass at 180.21 mph to outrun reigning world champion Antron Brown’s 6.566 at 103.47 in his Matco Tools dragster. Brown rattled and lost traction early while Force’s dragster backfired and released the parachutes just a little farther down track than Brown and she coasted to the finish line for her third win of 2016 and in her TF career.
She declared: “It’s awesome to be able to win here. We are exactly where we want to be as we go into the Countdown and our biggest race of the season in Indy. It feels so good to bring home another win.”
Brown, although beaten in this Brainerd final, still emerged from the weekend with the points lead and his fourth win of the season, having beaten Steve Torrence on Saturday in the delayed final left over from Seattle.
2014 top rookie Richie Crampton, from Adelaide, South Australia, secured his spot in the Countdown with a second round appearance.
Worsham’s fortunes took the opposite route to Brown’s, losing in the held-over Seattle Funny Car final to Ron Capps’ Dodge Charger, but sending his DHL Toyota Camry to a 3.908 at 327.27 to beat Matt Hagan’s Charger R/T in the Brainerd final.
“I’m very excited,” said Worsham, who moved to third in the points standings with the win. “I came in here with a lot of confidence, thinking we were going to do well and Friday came around and we couldn’t have made any better runs. Along came Saturday and we smoked the tires. We had to take a little step back today, but they put it together.
“Brainerd has always been a special place to me. Going back to 1991, my first No. 1 qualifier came here 25 years ago. I’m excited to be here. It’s a great place, great facility and the team did a great job. I’m happy to get the win, go to Indy and start the NHRA Mello Yello Series Countdown.”
Worsham, who won the championship last season without a regular-season win, tallied his first victory of 2016, 39th of his career and 31st of his Funny Car career.
Drew Skillman earned his first Pro Stock victory of the year and second of his career by posting a 6.648 at 208.97 in his Chevy Camaro to better seven-time 2016 event winner Jason Line’s 6.681 at 206.64 in his Ray Skillman Auto Group Chevy Camaro.
Skillman, the 2015 Rookie of the Year, won his first race since last year in St. Louis and beat Dave River, Bo Butner and Vincent Nobile before racing Line in the final.
“My guys have been working very hard and this is for their hard work today. [The class] is getting much, much closer. I think by the end of the season we’ll be very tight and next year I think you will see a very competitive class across the board.”
Line, a two-time Pro Stock world champion, raced past Alan Prusiensky, Chris McGaha and two-time and reigning world champ Erica Enders in the earlier rounds and his runner-up finish, maintained his position at the top of the championship table.
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE
Andrew Hines posted a perfect .000 reaction time in the final round to defeat Jerry Savoie in the Pro Stock Motorcycle final round. Hines’ 6.866 at 194.94 with the perfect reaction time on his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson was enough for a holeshot victory against Savoie’s 6.863 at 194.88 on his White Alligator Racing Suzuki. This is Hines’ fourth win of the season, 46th of his career and third at Brainerd International Raceway.
“I was definitely a little nervous because we came here with the intentions of preparing for the Countdown,” said Hines, the winningest Pro Stock Motorcycle racer in NHRA history. “We put brand new tires on the bike which turned out, in hindsight, to be a very bad decision because the track is so good here. We were battling with the tune up on Friday. We just pecked away at it all weekend.
“We took our chance at it in the final round, put an old tire back on, and it went nice and straight. I was pressing it because I knew I needed an advantage over Jerry.”
Final finish order at the 35th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway
TOP FUEL: 1. Brittany Force; 2. Antron Brown; 3. Shawn Langdon; 4. Tony Schumacher; 5. Doug Kalitta; 6. Terry McMillen; 7. J.R. Todd; 8. Clay Millican; 9. Steve Torrence; 10. Chris Karamesines; 11. Richie Crampton; 12. Terry Haddock; 13. Scott Palmer; 14. Luigi Novelli; 15. Morgan Lucas; 16. Leah Pritchett.
Final: Brittany Force, 4.169 seconds, 180.21 mph def. Antron Brown, 6.566 seconds, 103.47 mph.
FUNNY CAR: 1. Del Worsham; 2. Matt Hagan; 3. Ron Capps; 4. Courtney Force; 5. Tim Wilkerson; 6. Robert Hight; 7. Jack Beckman; 8. Tommy Johnson Jr.; 9. John Force; 10. John Bojec; 11. Cruz Pedregon; 12. Dale Creasy Jr.; 13. Chad Head; 14. John Hale; 15. Brian Stewart; 16. Bob Bode.
Final: Del Worsham, Toyota Camry, 3.908, 327.27 def. Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 8.095, 71.33.
PRO STOCK: 1. Drew Skillman; 2. Jason Line; 3. Erica Enders; 4. Vincent Nobile; 5. Greg Anderson; 6. Bo Butner; 7. Chris McGaha; 8. Allen Johnson; 9. Shane Gray; 10. Alex Laughlin; 11. Deric Kramer; 12. Jeg Coughlin; 13. Alan Prusiensky; 14. Mark Hogan; 15. Dave River.
Final: Drew Skillman, Chevy Camaro, 6.648, 208.97 def. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.681, 206.64.
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: 1. Andrew Hines; 2. Jerry Savoie; 3. Eddie Krawiec; 4. Hector Arana Jr; 5. Angelle Sampey; 6. Matt Smith; 7. Karen Stoffer; 8. Cory Reed; 9. Chip Ellis; 10. Scotty Pollacheck; 11. Hector Arana; 12. Michael Ray; 13. Steve Johnson; 14. Jim Underdahl; 15. Angie Smith; 16. LE Tonglet.
Final: Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.866, 194.94 def. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.863, 194.88
Point standings after 17 of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series
Top Fuel: 1. Antron Brown, 1,424*; 2. Doug Kalitta, 1,257*; 3. Steve Torrence, 1,216*; 4. Brittany Force, 1,161*; 5. Tony Schumacher, 1,117*; 6. J.R. Todd, 998*; 7. Shawn Langdon, 968*; 8. Richie Crampton, 840*; 9. Clay Millican, 822; 10. (tie) Terry McMillen, 637; Leah Pritchett, 637.
Funny Car: 1. Ron Capps, 1,413**; 2. Courtney Force, 1,198*; 3. Del Worsham, 1,192*; 4. Jack Beckman, 1,146*; 5. Matt Hagan, 1,115*; 6. Robert Hight, 1,040*; 7. John Force, 1,003*; 8. Tommy Johnson Jr., 999*; 9. Tim Wilkerson, 915*; 10. Alexis DeJoria, 765.
Pro Stock: 1. Jason Line, 1,761*; 2. Greg Anderson, 1,683*; 3. Bo Butner, 1,207*; 4. Allen Johnson, 1,054*; 5. Vincent Nobile, 1,004*; 6. Drew Skillman, 953*; 7. Shane Gray, 825; 8. Chris McGaha, 802; 9. Erica Enders, 742; 10. Jeg Coughlin, 729.
Pro Stock Motorcycle: 1. Eddie Krawiec, 898*; 2. Andrew Hines, 856*; 3. Angelle Sampey, 659*; 4. Jerry Savoie, 651*; 5. LE Tonglet, 522*; 6. Hector Arana, 459; 7. Chip Ellis, 454; 8. Matt Smith, 402; 9. Hector Arana Jr, 386; 10. Steve Johnson, 331.
* Clinched berth in NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship
** Clinched No. 1 spot in NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship
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