Courtney Force takes first Funny Car win since 2014
Force defeated top FC qualifier Tim Wilkerson to put her Camaro on top, as Doug Kalitta (Top Fuel) and Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) also earned wins at the NHRA SpringNationals near Houston, sixth race of the season.
Force posted a 3.913-second pass at 327.90 mph in her Traxxas Chevrolet Camaro SS to defeat Tim Wilkerson’s Levi, Ray & Shoup Ford Shelby Mustang who set a time of 3.943sec at 323.81mph. This is Force’s eighth career win but her first since 2014 in St. Louis, and draws her level with Wilkerson at the top of the points table.
“It was a pretty amazing weekend,” Force said. “I was nervous going into the final against Wilkerson. I knew what kind of numbers he could put on the board and I knew I just had to be right there with him. We’ve been working really hard and I feel like this one felt even better than my first ever career win. We wanted it more than anything.”
Force defeated Bob Bode, Ron Capps and Tommy Johnson Jr. in the earlier rounds, while Wilkerson, who has won twice this year, battled past Jim Campbell and former champions Matt Hagan and Jack Beckman to make it to the final round.
With Force’s victory, the NHRA Mello Yello Series has now seen four different female winners in the Nitro categories so far this season – the most in a single season in NHRA history.
Kalitta also took his first victory of 2016 – and third at the NHRA SpringNationals – with a final round pass of 3.813 at 280.60 for a holeshot victory. Like Force, Kalitta had to beat the top qualifier in the final race, in this case Steve Torrence. The Texas native raced to a 3.810 at 306.81, but his slower reaction time proved to be the difference between victory and defeat.
Kalitta’s 39th career victory drew him level once more with Antron Brown and also with Kenny Bernstein for fourth on the Top Fuel all-time wins list.
“I actually didn’t realize I had won until I had gotten to the end and turned around and came back,” he said. “It’s good to get a win and get the momentum going. It just charges everybody up. It was just a really good day for us.”
Kalitta outpaced Terry Haddock, Kebin Kinsley and Phoenix winner Leah Pritchett in the earlier rounds, while Torrence had to take down Rob Passey, eight-time champion Tony Schumacher and reigning champ Brown.
With the win, Kalitta moved to second in points behind Brittany Force by just one point who went out early today.
This is the first time in NHRA history that sisters have led their respective Nitro category points standings.
Anderson scored his third win of the season on a holeshot against Ken Black Racing/Summit Racing Equipment teammate Jason Line. Anderson pushed his Chevrolet Camaro to a 6.630 at 209.43 to defeat the points-leader’s 6.597 at 209.95. The pair have won all six races this year.
“It was a tremendous day today,” Anderson said. “I was having a ball. I just kept wondering, ‘When’s it going to rain? When’s it going to rain? Please don’t because I feel great today.’ My car is great. My car was just a dream to drive every run and I knew I had a great chance to win.”
Anderson, a four-time Pro Stock world champion, opened eliminations with a bye before defeating Vincent Nobile and Allen Johnson in the second round and semifinals, respectively. Anderson is still 79 points behind Line, however, who has reached the final in all six races.
Final finish order at the 29th annual SpringNationals at Royal Purple Raceway. (NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series’ Round 6 of 24)
TOP FUEL - 1. Doug Kalitta; 2. Steve Torrence; 3. Antron Brown; 4. Leah Pritchett; 5. Shawn Langdon; 6. Tony Schumacher; 7. Kebin Kinsley; 8. Scott Palmer; 9. Troy Buff; 10. Terry McMillen; 11. Brittany Force; 12. J.R. Todd; 13. Richie Crampton; 14. Clay Millican; 15. Terry Haddock; 16. Rob Passey.
Final round: Doug Kalitta, 3.813 seconds, 280.60 mph def. Steve Torrence, 3.810 seconds, 306.81 mph.
FUNNY CAR - 1. Courtney Force; 2. Tim Wilkerson; 3. Jack Beckman; 4. Tommy Johnson Jr.; 5. Del Worsham; 6. Matt Hagan; 7. Alexis DeJoria; 8. Ron Capps; 9. Chad Head; 10. Cruz Pedregon; 11. Todd Simpson; 12. Robert Hight; 13. Bob Bode; 14. John Force; 15. Jim Campbell; 16. John Hale.
Final round: Courtney Force, Chevy Camaro, 3.913, 327.90 def. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 3.943, 323.81.
PRO STOCK - 1. Greg Anderson; 2. Jason Line; 3. Allen Johnson; 4. Bo Butner; 5. Vincent Nobile; 6. Drew Skillman; 7. Chris McGaha; 8. Alex Laughlin; 9. Erica Enders; 10. Shane Gray; 11. Jeg Coughlin; 12. Aaron Strong; 13. V. Gaines.
Final round: Greg Anderson, Chevy Camaro, 6.630, 209.43 def. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.597, 209.95.
Point standings after 6 of 24 events
Top Fuel: 1. Brittany Force, 464; 2. Doug Kalitta, 463; 3. Antron Brown, 445; 4. Steve Torrence, 417; 5. Clay Millican, 355; 6. J.R. Todd, 316; 7. Tony Schumacher, 295; 8. Leah Pritchett, 291; 9. Richie Crampton, 275; 10. Terry McMillen, 259.
Funny Car: 1. (tie) Courtney Force, 439; Tim Wilkerson, 439; 3. Ron Capps, 417; 4. Robert Hight, 404; 5. John Force, 384; 6. Jack Beckman, 379; 7. Del Worsham, 376; 8. Alexis DeJoria, 339; 9. Chad Head, 303; 10. Matt Hagan, 280.
Pro Stock: 1. Jason Line, 689; 2. Greg Anderson, 610; 3. Bo Butner, 508; 4. Drew Skillman, 399; 5. Chris McGaha, 339; 6. Allen Johnson, 318; 7. Vincent Nobile, 262; 8. Erica Enders, 257; 9. Jeg Coughlin, 255; 10. Alex Laughlin, 220.
Pro Stock Motorcycle (not racing this weekend) 1. Eddie Krawiec, 232; 2. Andrew Hines, 197; 3. Hector Arana, 154; 4. Chip Ellis, 135; 5. Jerry Savoie, 108; 6. LE Tonglet, 107; 7. Michael Ray, 104; 8. Matt Smith, 93; 9. Angelle Sampey, 92; 10. Jim Underdahl, 84.
Wilkerson, Torrence and Anderson take top qualifying positions at SpringNationals
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