Final round results from Sunday’s 30th annual NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway, 22nd race in the 2014 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series; 4th race of the Countdown to the Championship:
TOP FUEL – Tony Schumacher, Austin, Texas, US Army dragster, 4.440, 291.13 mph def. Brittany Force, Yorba Linda, Calif., Castrol EDGE dragster,4.652, 269.94 mph
FUNNY CAR – Matt Hagan, Christiansburg, Va., Rocky Boots Dodge Charger R/T, 4.333, 215.00 mph def. Tommy Johnson Jr., Avon, Ind., Make-A-Wish Dodge Charger R/T, 5.456, 152.31 mph.
PRO STOCK – Rodger Brogdon, Tomball, Texas, Kent Services & Trucking Chevrolet Camaro, 6.516, 212.13 mph def. Allen Johnson, Greeneville, Tenn., Magneti Marelli Mopar Dodge Dart, 10.270, 90.64 mph.
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE – Eddie Krawiec, Brownsburg, Ind., Harley Davidson V-Rod, 6.793, 197.13 mph def. Scotty Pollacheck, Medford, Ore., Petrolhead Apparel Buell, 6.853, 193.82 mph.
BRITTANY FORCE RUNNER-UP AT MAPLE GROVE RACEWAY
READING, PA --- Brittany Force raced to her fourth final round of this season and her career at the NHRA Nationals in Reading, Pennsylvania. She was attempting to become the eighth female to win a Top Fuel NHRA national event but her bid fell short against seven-time champion Tony Schumacher. Her Castrol EDGE Dragster was running strong and consistent in qualifying and during Sunday’s eliminations. She put some tough competitors on the trailer and gave the loyal Castrol and John Force Racing fans something to cheer for. Brittany has raced Schumacher four times in the past and has defeated him in one of those match-ups.
Force and Schumacher left the line almost simultaneously then both drivers had to pedal their machines as the Goodyear slicks fought for traction and began to smoke. Brittany did a great job controlling the throttle so her Castrol EDGE Dragster would settle down but unfortunately, Schumacher was able to maintain his slight lead and crossed the finish line first with 4.440 second run at 291.13 mph to Brittany’s trailing 4.652 pass at 269.13 mph.
“I was so ready to take Tony (Schumacher) down and thought we had it. It was such a bummer when my win light didn’t come on. My car went out there and shook and smoked the tires but I pedaled it and it did hook back up for a little while but he (Schumacher) was way ahead of me,” said Force. “I’m so proud of my entire team, this Castrol EDGE Dragster ran great and we had an awesome weekend. The fact we made it to the finals shows we’ve turned our luck around as we’ve been struggling quite a bit but we’re ready to head to Vegas in few weeks and do it again.”
Getting to the finals, Brittany defeated rival Spencer Massey as her dragster blasted down the track at 3.733 seconds at 329.91 during the semifinals. That performance was a career best in elapsed time and speed for Brittany Force and was indicative of the power her team led by Todd Smith and Dean “Guido” Antonelli, have been able to extract from the BOSS 500 engine. This also gave her lane choice heading into to finals which help bolster even more confidence from the sophomore Top Fuel racer.
During the quarter finals, Brittany faced Richie Crampton and defeated him handily. Not only did she a great reaction time of .068, she thunder down the track 3.972 seconds but an engine explosion near the finish line scrubbed off some speed as her dragster only ran 249.58 mph.
“That engine explosion definitely caused a lot of work for the Castrol EDGE team. It hurt the car pretty bad on that run and it made our weekend even more expensive but we got the win light on that round and that’s what counts right now and that’s what we’re going after,” said Brittany Force.
In the opening round, Brittany ran Terry McMillen and with a stout 3.886 second pass at 313.37 mph to McMillen’s losing 8.158 run at 90.71 mph, advanced. However, it’s the first round that’s usually the toughest for any racer regardless on how many times the suit up and climb in the cockpit.
“The first round is always the toughest. I get butterflies and knots in my stomach. However, with so much going on in getting ready for eliminations, it leaves little time to be anxious or nervous. Someone had asked me if there was more pressure on me since I was the last Castrol/John Force Racing car standing after round one, and I said No, not really, we’ll just go out there and do our usual routine,’ well, today it worked as we went to our fourth final this season,” said Brittany Force.
Brittany Force and the Castrol EDGE have now moved up the 9th place in the NHRA Mello Yello standings as they’ve earned 2188 Countdown points for their hard work this weekend.
The winningest driver in NHRA history was hoping for claim his 142nd career win today at the NHRA Nationals in Reading, Pennsylvania but unfortunately it was not to be. In the opening round John Force and his Castrol GTX High Mileage Mustang went up against fellow Ford Mustang racer Bob Tasca III and it wasn’t the result the 16-time NHRA Mello Yello champion was looking for. Force’s hopes of getting his first Countdown win went up in smoke as his Funny Car lost traction right before the finish line allowing Tasca to sneak past Force for the first round win.
The scoreboards said it all as Force ran 4.210 second pass at 261.62 mph to Tasca’s 4.079 run at 313.15 mph. Force and Tasca III are no strangers as these two fiercely competitive drivers have raced each in eliminations 19 times before today’s match up. Force had recently defeated Tasca III at the NHRA Carolina Nationals back in September.
“I know this game real well, Tasca’s car didn’t run well all weekend and then he stepped it up and ran that 4.07 when he needed to and you can’t argue that. My Castrol Mustang was trying to run a low 4.03 of 4.04 and then it got loose down there on the other end but Tasca got in the ballgame. Things happen, crew chiefs work hard, I work hard and boy, we thought we could come out here and stretch out our points lead on these guys,” said John Force.
“It’s now (Matt) Hagan against us and there’s others behind him but with Courtney and Robert went out part that’s not we wanted, but it’s part of the game and that’s why I love it so much. We have two more races so we’re not out of this Countdown. The fans her are awesome and with Brittany going to her fourth final, it wasn’t that bad of weekend for John Force Racing.”
John Force did pick six NHRA Mello Yello Bonus Points for his efforts during the qualifying and despite getting bumped out of first place in the Countdown, the reigning NHRA Funny Car is still in the hunt considering his on only two rounds behind Hagan.
Courtney Force had gone eight consecutive rounds since the start of the NHRA Fall Nationals at Dallas until today when she made a first round exit with her Traxxas Ford Mustang team. Force qualified No. 4 with a 4.008 ET and was paired up with Jeff Arend going into race day. The Traxxas Ford barely made it off the starting line before it went into tire smoke and Arend got the win with a 4.598 ET at 221.45 mph.
“Having these conditions and going out first round is hard to swallow. Right when we went up and I hit the throttle the tires went up in smoke. It was sideways and I tried to pedal it, but he was long gone by then. It’s definitely tough after we’ve won back-to-back the last two weekends. Coming out here in Reading we struggled a little bit throughout qualifying, getting down only two out of the four passes. We made a pretty good run yesterday to get in the top half,” said Force.
At the start of the weekend with just three races left, the third-year driver sat in the No. 2 spot in the NHRA Mello Yello point standings behind only John Force and Matt Hagan. Her first round loss caused her to slip to third in the points, but still solidly in the championship hunt.
“For this Traxxas team, we’re going to keep our heads up and just get ready for Vegas. Today I’m just cheering on my sister Brittany,” said Force.
The Auto Club Ford Mustang suffered its second consecutive first round loss today at the hands of veteran driver Tim Wilkerson. It was just the second time this season that Robert Hight, a five-time winner this season, has not advanced to the second round in back to back races. Both Mustang Funny Cars launched hard but at about 300 feet Hight’s Auto Club Mustang hazed the tires and then a second later Wilkerson’s tires broke loose.
“We were just a little too aggressive for the track conditions. A lot of the Top Fuel dragster and Funny Cars were trying to get a handle on the cooler track this morning. IT was a tough loss but John (Force) talked to the whole team after the first round and we are all still in the hunt,” said Hight.
Hight’s strong qualifying effort that had him No. 5 rolling into the first round was not enough to get the win. The 2009 Funny Car champion is not discouraged heading into the penultimate race at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
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MELLO YELLO COUNTDOWN POINT STANDINGS
FUNNY CAR - 1. Matt Hagan, 2423; 2. John Force, Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang, 2387; 3. Courtney Force, Traxxas Ford Mustang, 2351; 4. Tommy Johnson Jr., 2309; 5. Robert Hight, Auto Club Ford Mustang, 2288; 6. Alexis DeJoria, 2268; 7. Ron Capps, 2254; 8. Del Worsham, 2227; 9. Tim Wilkerson, 2207; 10. Cruz Pedregon, 2196
TOP FUEL - 1. Tony Schumacher, 2462; 2. Doug Kalitta, 2328; 3. Steve Torrence, 2319; 4. Shawn Langdon, 2314; 5. Antron Brown, 2292; 6. JR Todd, 2288; 7. Spencer Massey, 2273; 8. Khalid alBalooshi, 2240; 9. Brittany Force, Castrol EDGE dragster, 2188; 10. Richie Crampton, 2177
PRO STOCK - 1. Jason Line, 2421; 2. Erica Enders Stevens, 2386; 3. Dave Connolly, 2370; 4. Shane Gray, 2322; 5. Allen Johnson, 2315; 6. Vincent Nobile, 2295; 7. Jonathan Gray, 2279; 8. Jeg Coughlin, 2266; 9. V Gaines, 2207; 10. Chris McGaha, 2104
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE - 1. Andrew Hines, 2485; 2. Eddie Krawiec, 2460; 3. Hector Arana Jr, 2317; 4. Steve Johnson, 2285; 5. Matt Smith, 2274; 6. Scotty Pollacheck, 2268; 7. John Hall, 2222; 8. Hector Arana, 2210; 9. Angie Smith, 2157; 10. Michael Ray, 2071
JOHN FORCE, 65, Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang
Final Qualifying: 2nd at 3.997 seconds at 323.97 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: +6 (2nd quickest of Q1, 3rd quickest of Q3; Quickest of Q4)
Race results: Lost to Bob Tasca III.
ROBERT HIGHT, 45, Auto Club of Southern California Ford Mustang
Final Qualifying: 5th at 4.009 seconds at 320.13 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: +1 (3rd quickest of Q4)
Race results: Lost to Tim Wilkerson.
COURTNEY FORCE, 26, Traxxas Ford Mustang
Final Qualifying: 4th at 4.008 seconds at 320.36 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: +2 (2nd quickest of Q4)
Race results: Lost to Jeff Arend.
BRITTANY FORCE, 28, Castrol EDGE Top Fuel Dragster
Final Qualifying: 2nd at 3.737 seconds at 328.78 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: +6 (2nd quickest of Q2, Quickest of Q3, 3rd quickest of Q4)
Race results: Beat Terry McMillen, Richie Crampton, Spencer Massey; Lost Tony Schumacher