FC Legend Force Ends NHRA Drought!
Drag racing living legend John Force ended a 31-event winless drought by racing to a special Father’s Day victory during the Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals presented by Tri-Cities Area Ford Dealers….
Steve Torrence (Top Fuel) and Rodger Brogdon (Pro Stock) also were winners of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event held at Bristol Tennessee.
Force earned his fourth victory at Bristol Dragway and the 135th title of his legendary career when he defeated arch-rival Cruz Pedregon in the final round. Force outran daughter Courtney Force, points leader Matt Hagan and rising star Blake Alexander to advance to the final round.
“I really thought Courtney was going to take me out first round,” Force said. “Her car has been flyin’ all year. It’s all in the teamwork. We haven’t won the championship, we haven’t won the Countdown, but we have a race car. That’s what I’m excited about. It’s a great day.”
In the final, Force powered his Castrol GTX Ford Mustang to a winning performance of 4.148 seconds at 305.29 mph to take the victory as Pedregon’s Snap-on Tools Toyota Camry shut off as it approached the finish line, ultimately coasting across in 4.335 at 224.02.
“If you can’t compete you are just mentally out of it,” said Force, 64, the seventh different Funny Car winner of the season. He celebrated the win with his wife Laurie and daughters Courtney and Brittany. He said he received a phone call from daughter Ashley to congratulate him and wish him a happy Father’s Day while he was in winner’s circle.
“This is great to come back here and win,” Force continued. “So many fans wanted me to win on Father’s Day. It’s just a great day for the Force family and to do it on Father’s Day is just awesome.”
Pedregon moved up to second in the points standings with the runner-up finish, 16 behind leader Hagan. Force improved to ninth in the standings with the victory.
In Top Fuel, Torrence claimed his first win of the season and fourth of his career by defeating event top qualifier Spencer Massey in the final round. Torrence covered the distance in 3.871 at 320.13 in his Capco Contractors dragster to finish in front of Massey’s Schumacher Electric dragster, which trailed with a 3.894 at 317.19.
The victory was the first for Torrence with his new crew chief, veteran tuner Lee Beard. Prior to the Atlanta race in May, Torrence hired Beard to replace his previous tuner, Richard Hogan.
“Today’s been unbelievable,” Torrence said. “I didn’t expect the car to turn around nearly as quickly as it did. My guys worked their tails off with 14- and 15-hour days to get the car setup like we wanted it. I am happy with the way the car is running and it’s real consistent right now. I am happy with the decision we made (to hire crew chief Lee Beard) and it is paying off now.”
Torrence, who qualified second, outran rookie Leah Pruett, points leader Shawn Langdon and Morgan Lucas to advance to his first final round since winning last August in Seattle.
“When you go up there with a load of confidence in your car and your team it’s such a huge difference,” Torrence said. “Lee Beard is very good and he definitely exceeded what we expected. It means we gained some points to get into the Countdown (to the Championship, NHRA’s six-race playoffs) and we earned a spot in the Traxxas Nitro Shootout.”
Tony Schumacher reclaimed the series points lead and now leads Langdon by one. Runner-up Massey moved to third overall and Torrence moved into the top 10 for the first time since the season-opening Winternationals in February, and now holds down the ninth spot.
Brogdon claimed his first Pro Stock victory by outrunning fellow Houston native Erica Enders-Stevens in the final round. Brodgon’s ProtectTheHarvest.com Chevy Camaro posted a 6.745 at 205.38 while Enders-Stevens trailed with a 6.752 at 205.66 in her Charter Communications Camaro.
Brogdon scored early round wins over V. Gaines, points leader and top qualifier Mike Edwards and Jason Line before driving around Enders-Stevens in the final.
“Erica is like a daughter to me,” Brogdon said. “I’ve known her dad for a long time and we used to race against each other years ago. But when you go up against each other in the final, you have to put all that behind you.”
Brogdon, who moved to ninth in the points order with the victory, said some changes that he’s put in place in the last couple of months are finally starting to pay off. He said his decision to test at Bristol Dragway last week also proved to be critical in this outcome.
“I said that when we started this deal that it was going to take at least 10 races or so [for it to show results] and this happened to be the 10th race,” Brogdon said. “We made nine runs in two days of testing here, and it sure paid off. We were so much better at the end of our testing than we were when we got here. I have to give my guys a lot of credit to my guys for coming up here and doing such great work.”
Edwards, who saw his four-race Bristol winning streak snapped, maintained his series points lead and Jeg Coughlin and Allen Johnson are tied for second. Local favorite Johnson, from nearby Greeneville, Tenn., lost in the second round to Greg Anderson.
Smith Defends Event Pro Mod Title
Rickie Smith made it back-to-back wins at Bristol Dragway, beating Troy Coughlin on a holeshot on Sunday in the finals of the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series at the 13th annual Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals presented by Tri-Cities Area Ford Dealers. The race is the fifth of 10 races in 2013 for NHRA’s popular 250-mph doorslammer touring series.
After winning at legendary Thunder Valley in 2012, the King, N.C. native held off a hard-charging Coughlin, the 2012 NHRA Pro Mod Series world champ, in the final, running a 5.991 at 240.47 mph in his IDG Chevy Camaro to claim his second straight victory in Bristol. Coughlin ran a quicker 5.984 at 246.26 in his JEGS.com Corvette, but Smith’s better .061 reaction time sent him to the win, his first in the 2013 season.
“This has been a good track to us over the years and it’s a great deal to win here,” said Smith, whose name is listed on the Legends of Thunder Valley at the track. “We’ve been blessed here and to go out and win every now and then, it’s just a major accomplishment for us.
“We had a rough weekend and we were just trying to save the engine each round, but we’re glad and just so happy to get this win.”
After winning his first-round matchup against Chris Juliano on Saturday, Smith, who qualified second, started Sunday with a second round victory against Pete Farber, going 5.994 at 240.38. In the semifinals, Smith faced off against Robert Patrick and his Ford Mustang, powering to a 6.418 at 169.23 to advance to the finals.
With the victory, Smith also jumped to second in the points standings at the halfway mark of the season. By advancing to the finals, Coughlin, who knocked off Mike Janis and No. 1 qualifier Danny Rowe to reach the championship round, took over the points lead from the Summit Racing Equipment team of Kenny Lang. Lang dropped to third with a second-round exit.
Photos by: Benoit Pigeon & Courtesy of NHRA
Event Essentials: NHRA Ford Thunder Valley Nationals – Bristol TN (June 14-16th, 2013)
|TOP FUEL||Name||ET||MPH||Career Win|
|Low ET:||Spencer Massey||3.775|
|Top Speed:||Spencer Massey||326.79|
|FUNNY CAR||Name||ET||MPH||Career Win|
|Low ET:||Del Worsham||4.008|
|Top Speed:||Jack Beckman||317.05|
|PRO STOCK||Name||ET||MPH||Career Win|
|Low ET:||Mike Edwards||6.633|
|Top Speed:||Mike Edwards||208.23|
|PRO MODIFIED||Name||ET||MPH||Career Win|
|Low ET:||Danny Rowe||5.958|
|Top Speed:||Troy Coughlin||246.58|
|Top Sportsman||Marco Abruzzi||6.910||193.24|
|Super Stock||Anthony Bertozzi||9.175||141.97|
|Super Comp||Ed Richardson||8.950||171.97|
|Super Gas||Sherman Adcock||9.904||163.47|
Bertozzi Paces Sportsman Winners
Anthony Bertozzi picked up his 12th NHRA national event trophy with a big win over Dan Fletcher and Marco Abruzzi collected his 5th NHRA Wally in three weeks at this weekend’s Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway.
Bertozzi, Ashland, Va., used a .009 second reaction time for a hole shot win in his ’98 Grand Am running 9.172 at 141.97 to defeat Fletcher at 10.365, 121.55. The win was Bertozzi’s eighth in Super Stock and 12th overall.
Warren, Ohio, racer Abruzzi continued his winning streak knocking our Ronnie Proctor in Top Sportsman for his second national event win in a row. His ’68 Camaro crossed the finish line in 6.910 seconds at 193.24 mph for the win. Abruzzi won two weeks ago in Englishtown, N.J., and won three times at the NHRA Lucas Oil Divisional event at Route 66 Raceway last weekend, winning in Top Dragster for the Route 66 event and in both Top Dragster and Top Sportsman for the postponed event from Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis that was completed at Route 66.
In Super Comp it was Ed Richardson taking the win over Greg Slack by about 22 inches with a starting line advantage while Sherman Adcock, Fortson, Ga., won in Super Gas for this 10th national event win. Richardson beat the quicker Slack at 8.950, 163.47 and Adcock clocked in at 9.904 on the 9.90 dial for the trophy.
Drew Skillman rounded out the winners with his ’12 Mustang beating Brian Rogers who left early with a red-light foul start giving the win to Skillman, Greenwood, Ind. Skillman ran it out to a 9.065 second, 150.73 mph lap.
Posted by: Eric Lotz & NHRA Communications