Female racers have now won two of the first three NHRA Top Fuel races of the season…..
Brittany Force raced to her first career victory and took control of the Top Fuel point standings following the conclusion of the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals held in Florida last weekend – NHRA’s high tradition Eastern season opening event.
Robert Hight (Funny Car), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were also victorious at the third of 24 events in the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season.
Force powered her Monster Energy dragster to a 3.772-second run at 318.77 mph to outlast Terry McMillen’s 3.981 at 266.90 in his Amalie Motor Oil XTERMIGATOR dragster. This was Force’s eighth career final round appearance and first ever at Gainesville Raceway. After also racing to the finals three weeks ago in Phoenix, Force became the first female Top Fuel racer to appear in back-to-back finals since Melanie Troxel in 2006. As the No. 5 qualifier, Force defeated Morgan Lucas, Tripp Tatum and Dave Connolly before beating McMillen in the final.
“It feels good to finally bring home the win,” said Force, daughter of 16-time Funny Car champion John Force. “Our car was on fire all weekend. It went down there and had great runs. This is a very proud moment for me and the John Force Racing team, the Monster Energy team. It took everyone to get us here.”
McMillen, also appearing in his first ever final round, sped past defending world champ Antron Brown, eight-time world champ Tony Schumacher and Clay Millican before having engine problems in the final against Force. McMillen jumped from 10th to fifth in points.
Leah Pritchett raced to victory in Phoenix three weeks ago, and with Force’s victory in Gainesville, this is the first time since 1990 that female Top Fuel racers have won back-to-back events.
Pritchett’s Phoenix win was also the first of her career, so Gainesville marks the first time there have been back-to-back first-time Top Fuel winners since 1993.
John Force Racing doubled up for the first time in team history as Hight pushed his Auto Club Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car to a 4.429 at 280.95, outrunning Ron Capps’ 7.047 at 89.05 in his NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger R/T. This is Hight’s first win in 2016 and third at Gainesville. He qualified third and beat Terry Haddock, Matt Hagan and Chad Head en route to earning his 37th career win. Hight leads the Funny Car points.
“We’ve had a great race car the first two races, so we actually felt that we let a couple slip by that we actually could have won,” Hight said. “To come in here and actually get it done, and get it done with Brittany, both of us leaving with the points lead, man it doesn’t get any better than this. It’s been a lot of hard work and it’s finally paying off.”
Capps, who has three victories in five final round appearances at Gainesville, raced past John Hale, Cruz Pedregon and Don Schumacher Racing teammate Jack Beckman in the first three rounds. Capps is second in points.
In Pro Stock, Anderson raced his Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro to a holeshot win against Ken Black Racing teammate and points leader Jason Line. Anderson posted a 6.590 at 210.01 and used a quicker reaction time to cross the finish line before his teammate, who powered his Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro to a 6.581 at 210.57. Anderson raced past V. Gaines, Jeg Coughlin Jr. and Allen Johnson in the earlier rounds. The KB Racing duo of Anderson and Line has combined to win the first three Pro Stock events this year.
“The whole weekend was great for KB Racing,” Anderson said. “These races are not decided on paper, they’re decided on the racetrack every time. We are human and things happen different on the starting line. Somehow, I overachieved in the final and stole a victory from Jason. Good for me, but it’s still great for KB Racing. No matter had happened in the final round, it was a victory for the team. I can’t be prouder of the race team I’m on.”
Line, who won the last event in Phoenix, qualified first and had a first round bye. He then defeated Vincent Nobile and 2015 Rookie of the Year Drew Skillman in the second and third rounds respectively. Line has four victories in six final round appearances at Gainesville. This is second consecutive year Line has lost to Anderson in the final at the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals.
In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Krawiec rode his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson to a 6.820 at 198.23 to defeat Hector Arana’s 6.920 at 196.44 on his Lucas Oil Buell. This marks Krawiec’s 32nd career win and his fourth victory at Gainesville Raceway. As the No. 1 qualifier, Krawiec outran Michael Phillips, Jerry Savoie and teammate and world champion Andrew Hines to make it to the final.
“Going out there I had a great motorcycle,” Krawiec said. “I have a great crew behind me, but the key thing for me was to not screw it up. You have the first round jitters after four months of not racing, but I knew I had a fast motorcycle. We’re all really excited, everybody back at our shop. We’re glad one of our Harley-Davidsons got the win.”
“Trickie Rickie” Takes Pro Mod
Two-time world champion Rickie Smith outran Danny Rowe in the final round to win the NHRA J&A Services Pro Mod Drag Racing Series portion of the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals. This weekend’s Pro Mod racing, co-presented by Pro Line Racing and Jerry Bickel Race Cars, Inc., is the first of 10 events on the season.
For more details on Pro Mod class racing at Gainesville – visit DragRaceCanada’s VP Racing Fuels Pro Mod Portal subsection coverage: HERE
The Lucas Oil Lowdown
Jeff Strickland had an impressive weekend and doubled-up in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series at the 47th annual AMALIE Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals in Stock Eliminator and Top Dragster; while John Lombardo Jr., picked up his seventh national event Top Alcohol Funny Car title.
Strickland, Red Bay, Ala., first worked his way through the field in Top Dragster and posted a winning run of 6.443 seconds at 209.20 mph. He faced off against Casey Spradlin, Ranburn, Ala., who had a runner up finish of 6.460 seconds at 211.00 mph. Strickland then went into the final against Sal Biondo, Middle Village, Fl., in Stock Eliminator and posted a winning run of 10.313 seconds at 123.62 mph. This was Strickland’s 13th national event win; two in top dragster, five in Stock, four in Super Comp and two in Super Stock. This was the first time that Strickland has doubled-up making him the 20th different driver to double up and the 33rd time it has happened.
Lombardo, Brea, Calif., worked his way through the field and ran 5.474 seconds at 272.12 mph in his final round victory over Doug Gordon, Paso Robles, Calif., who clocked in at 5.508 seconds, 268.01mph. Lombardo had a slight starting line advantage and never lost the lead. This is Lombardo’s seventh national event win.
Rich McPhillips, Phoenixville, Pa., faced off against Megan Meyer, Spring Hill, Kan., and posted a winning run of 5.567 seconds, 266.95 mph. McPhillip’s was out of the gate first and went right down the lane for the holeshot win. This is McPhillips third win in nine final round appearances.
In the Comp Eliminator final, Greg Kamplain, Brownsburg, Ind., took home the Wally over Jim Greenheck, Schofield, Wis. Kamplain scored a winning run of 6.850 seconds at 187.08 mph. Greenheck and his ’12 Camaro had a small advantage off the line but could not hold off the charging Kamplain in his Spitzer.
Denver Maltba, Newland, N.C., took home the Wally in Super Comp. Maltba faced off against Leo Zynda, Clinton Twp, Mi., and had a winning run of 8.890 seconds, 179.23 mph. This was Maltba’s first national event final appearance and win. In Super Gas, Jim Perry, Niota, Tenn., gained his third national event win. Perry gained his second win from this track; adding to his 2012 title.
Other racers visiting the winner’s circle this weekend were David Barton, Robesonia, Pa. in the School of Automotive Machinists & Technology NHRA Factory Stock Showdown and Tim Hunt, Boynton Beach, Fl., in the division’s Summit Pro Bike.
Posted with files by: NHRA Communications, Mandi Ramirez and Bruce Biegler
Photos by: Phil Hutchison, Tracy Waters & Gary Nastase