Final round results from Sunday’s 9th annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals at Summit Motorsports Park, twelfth race in the 2015 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series:
TOP FUEL – Doug Kalitta, Ypsilanti, Mich., Mac Tools dragster, 3.823, 322.34 mph def. Antron Brown, Brownsburg, Ind., Matco Tools dragster, 3.918, 307.79 mph.
FUNNY CAR – Jack Beckman, Norco, Calif., Infinite Hero Dodge Charger R/T, 4.211, 301.67 mph def. Courtney Force, Yorba Linda, Calif., Traxxas Chevrolet Camaro SS, 4.609, 199.64 mph.
PRO STOCK – Greg Anderson, Mooresville, NC., Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro, 6.592, 212.19 mph def. Drew Skillman, Bargersville, Ind., Ray Skillman Chevrolet Camaro, 6.594, 211.43 mph.
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE – Karen Stoffer, Gardnerville, Nev., Stoffer Enterprises Suzuki, 6.984, 193.10 mph def. Angelle Sampey, Mathews, La., Star Racing Buell, red-light DQ
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NORWALK, OH – Traxxas Chevrolet Funny Car driver Courtney Force did exactly what she came to do this weekend at the 9th annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals. The 27-year-old dismissed Ron Capps, Matt Hagan and Del Worsham before coming up a little short in the final round of eliminations against Jack Beckman. This was Force’s first runner-up of the season and the first time she has gone to the final round at Norwalk.
The Traxxas team made two impressive passes on Friday in very different conditions and eventually claimed the No. 9 position in a 16-car field with a 4.029 ET at 319.75 mph. They drew No. 8 qualifier and Funny Car veteran Ron Capps in the opening round.
“Our Traxxas team qualified in the No. 9 spot this weekend in Ohio with a 4.02. On the night run on Saturday we tried to run in the 3’s but we pushed a little too hard and couldn’t get the job done. Going into race day I felt confident in my team. They gave me a great car to drive and even though we had a tough ladder my team did a great job,” Force said, a fourteen time finalist.
Force was 4-11 to Capps in previous match-ups, but the statistics didn’t deter the young driver from leaving the starting line first and putting a good number on the board. She posted a 4.069 ET at 319.82 mph to Capps’ 4.066 ET at 312.93 mph and won on a hole-shot. Her .80 reaction time to his .86 gained her entry to the next round.
In the second round, Force lined up beside reigning world champion Matt Hagan. Once again, she left first and posted a quicker 4.097 ET at 317.49 mph to his 4.153 ET at 305.29 mph to get the win. This was the fifteenth time the pair have met on race day, but the first time they have met this year as well as the first time they have raced in Norwalk.
Their last meeting was St. Louis last season when Force dismissed the champion driver to claim her seventh Funny Car title. She is now 10-5 against him in eliminations.
“We had to run Capps in the first round and we were able to win on a hole-shot. Going into the second round we lined up with Matt Hagan. He’s always a tough competitor, but we managed to outrun him with a clean 4.09 second pass,” Force said.
The semi-final round was Force versus Del Worsham. For the third round in a row, Force beat her competition off the line and subsequently posted a winning 4.143 ET at 314.46 mph to Worsham’s tire-smoking 4.336 ET at 226.51 mph. This was the fifteenth time the pair have met on race day, the second time they have met in eliminations this season and the sixth time Force has turned on the win light against him. This was the first time they have met in the semi-finals. The other time was in the final round at Dallas in 2014 when Force won her sixth Funny Car race.
“We moved onto the semi-finals where we faced Worsham. We had lane choice in three of the rounds and just barely lost lane choice in the final. We made a decent pass in the heat of the day to get the win and then just had to line up against (Jack) Beckman,” said Force.
This was the tenth time the pair have met on race day and the third time they have raced this season. It was their first time racing at Norwalk and they are now 5-5 in competition.
“We struggled to get down in the left lane. We had a great pass and had Beckman covered the whole way. We had a fast race car, but it spun down track. I tried to pedal it, but he was already crossing the finish line for the win.
“We have nothing to be bummed out about this weekend. I’m very excited that our Traxxas Chevy Camaro team made it all the way to the final round. We came close to getting that Wally. We’ll just have to fight for it again next weekend in Chicago, but at this point, this is exactly what we needed. We are climbing up the ladder and getting those points,” said Force.
Robert Hight and the Auto Club Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car had a strong weekend qualifying No. 3 and racing to the second round. In the first round Hight outraced Tony Pedregon 4.078 seconds to 4.304 seconds. His winning elapsed time was the fourth quickest time of the first round of eliminations. It was also Hight’s fifth consecutive quick run of the weekend and had the 34-time Funny Car winner feeling confident heading into the second round.
“(Crew chief) Mike Neff and these Auto Club guys have been doing a great job this weekend and really all season. I want to give a shout out to Mac Tools. We are in Mac Tools country and we appreciate everything they do for us. That first round win was big and we have been struggling. I think we have turned a corner with this Auto Club Chevrolet Camaro SS,” said Hight after winning his first round race.
In the second round Hight squared off with eventual winner Jack Beckman and was on his way to victory before his Auto Club Chevy Camaro hazed the tires at the top end. That momentary loss of momentum gave Beckman just enough of an opening to drive around Hight, 4.104 to 4.173 seconds.
Defending event winner John Force who qualified No. 6 was upset in the first round by No. 11 qualifier Jack Beckman. Force held onto his Top Five position in the Mello Yello Funny Car point standings. Force left on Beckman but smoked the tires at half-track as Beckman took the win light, 4.063 to 4.657.
“The Traxxas Chevrolet carried the banner for all our sponsors like Auto Club, Peak, Monster Energy, Lucas Oil, and Mac Tools. The job is to win races and get into the Top Ten to race for the Mello Yello championship. The dragster keeps holding its own and all the Funny Cars have momentum. I have won two races, Robert had a consistent weekend and that Traxxas Chevy is right there. We are just going to move on to Chicago,” said Force.
“Before I get to Chicago I am headed to Indy. I am going to look at everything from budgets to the paint shop. We have a big show with Peak on Thursday and we are going to present them with the trophy we won in Epping. They have been good to us so we want to take care of them.”
In Top Fuel Brittany Force continued her positive streak racing to the second round today in the Monster Energy Top Fuel dragster. The third year driver qualified No. 6 but she only posted one solid run in qualifying and that lack of data had Force questioning her chances of success in the first round against veteran Pat Dakin.
“Going into Sunday you want to have as much confidence as possible. You want to look at all four of your qualifying passes and feel good about all of them. Some time you have a lot of confidence going into the first round and sometimes you are a little nervous,” said Force, a five-time finalist. “I was definitely nervous before that first round race with Dakin. The only reason was we just got one good run in qualifying. That makes it a challenge for everyone on the team. Our Monster Energy team did a great job taking the good info from that one run and making the most out of it.”
“Conditions this weekend completely changed from qualifying to race day. It was cool for qualifying at night but we started racing in the heat this morning. For us to come out of the gates and run a 3.79; I was very impressed. My crew chiefs Todd Smith and Ronnie Thompson figured it out and gave me a great race car. We went straight down there in the first round and got the round win.”
Force made one of the best runs of the first round when she lit up the scoreboard with a 3.797 second pass to his 3.891 second run. She missed having lane choice in the second round versus Antron Brown by one thousandth of a second. The lanes proved to be even and she lost a close race to Brown. The race was the fifth time she raced Brown and the first time in the second round.
“We had a challenge in the second round. It was obviously not our day and we keep running into Antron Brown. He is a good tough competitor. I like running him but I will like it even more when we finally beat him,” concluded Force.
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MELLO YELLO POINT STANDINGS
FUNNY CAR – 1. Matt Hagan, 932; 2. Ron Capps, 812; 3. Jack Beckman, 782; 4. Del Worsham, 781; 5. John Force, Chevrolet Camaro SS, 748; 6. Tommy Johnson Jr, 680; 7. Cruz Pedregon, 657; 8. Tim Wilkerson, 642; 9. Robert Hight, Auto Club Chevrolet Camaro SS, 633; 10. Alexis DeJoria, 626; 11. Courtney Force, Traxxas Chevrolet Camaro SS, 621
TOP FUEL – 1. Antron Brown, 925; 2. Tony Schumacher, 905; 3. Doug Kalitta, 791; 4. Richie Crampton, 764; 5. Larry Dixon, 754; 6. Spencer Massey, 730; 7. Shawn Langdon, 674; 8. Brittany Force, Monster Energy dragster, 641; 9. JR Todd, 597; 10. Clay Millican, 583
PRO STOCK – 1. Greg Anderson, 1065; 2. Erica Enders, 1005; 3. Jason Line, 900; 4. Chris McGaha, 831; 5. Drew Skillman, 666; 6. Larry Morgan, 629; 7. Allen Johnson, 622; 8. Shane Gray, 615; 9. Vincent Nobile, 597; 10. Roger Brogdon, 580
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE - 1. Eddie Krawiec, 395; 2. Karen Stoffer, 350; 3. Andrew Hines, 340; 4. Hector Arana Jr, 322; 5. Hector Arana, 291; 6. Angelle Sampey, 284; 7. Jim Underdahl, 278; 8. LE Tonglet, 270; 9. Scotty Pollacheck, 239; 10. Jerry Savoie, 236
JOHN FORCE, 66, Chevrolet Camaro SS
Final Qualifying: 6th at 4.012 seconds, 322.04 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: +1 (3rd quickest of Q2)
Race results: Lost to Jack Beckman
ROBERT HIGHT, 45, Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro SS
Final Qualifying: 3rd at 4.003 seconds, 322.04 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: +1 (3rd quickest of Q4)
Race results: Beat Tony Pedregon; Lost to Jack Beckman
COURTNEY FORCE, 27, Traxxas Chevrolet Camaro SS
Final Qualifying: 9th at 4.029 seconds, 319.75 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: 0
Race results: Beat Ron Capps, Matt Hagan, Del Worsham; Lost to Jack Beckman
BRITTANY FORCE, 28, Monster Energy Top Fuel Dragster
Final Qualifying: 6th at 3.755 seconds, 325.92mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: +2 (2nd quickest of Q2)
Race results: Beat Pat Dakin; Lost to Antron Brown