NHRA’s 2nd national event season stop of 2018 was truly a drama filled affair….

Race #2 for the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series included a huge win by Courtney Force who took home the Funny Car title at the 34th annual NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park.

Steve Torrence (Top Fuel) and Chris McGaha (Pro Stock) are also winners in their respective categories at the second of 24 events on the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.

Force emerged victorious with a run of 3.834 seconds at 337.16 mph in her Advance Auto Parts Chevy Camaro to take down Tommy Johnson Jr. in the final round. After earning the No. 1 qualifier on Saturday, Force secured her first victory since Houston 2016.

“Having [crew chief] Brian Corradi on my team and working with Dan Hood has been a great connection for our entire team,” Force said. “I had the utmost confidence to get in the car today because of the job my team does on it, so to get a victory at this race and take home a Wally at the end of the weekend is pretty incredible.”

Courtney Force reset track records while scoring her first win since the 2016 season.

After setting both ends of the track record on Saturday, Force took down Del Worsham and Matt Hagan before taking a solo pass in the semifinals as she raced to her first win in 2018.

Tommy Johnson Jr. overcame defending Funny Car world champion Robert Hight, Richard Townsend and Shawn Langdon en route to his first final round of 2018.

Earlier in the day, Courtney’s father and drag racing living legend John Force was involved in an wild incident. During the second round of eliminations his Peak Chevrolet Camaro SS suffered an engine explosion, went out of control, made contact with the retaining wall and then crossed lanes and collided with Sweden;s Jonnie Lindberg. Force was transported to a local hospital for evaluation – before retuning to the track later. Lindberg, driving for team owner Jim Head was not injured in the incident.

Link to and view the YouTube video of John Force’s incident : HERE

Torrence powered his Capco Contractors/Torrence Racing dragster to the Top Fuel victory with a run of 3.729 at 330.72 to take down Scott Palmer in the final round. After locking down a career-best eight victories in 2017, Torrence recorded a victory in Phoenix for the first time in his career.

After just missing the NHRA World Championship last year – Steve Torrence was all business while winning Top Fuel at Phoenix

“There is no easy round in this Top Fuel class anymore, you can’t take anybody lightly but it was a heck of a day with some pretty great races,” Torrence said. “The round against my dad is one that ranks up there that you remember as a high note that you remember of your career.”

Torrence qualified second on the weekend and defeated Steve Chrisman, Blake Alexander and his father, Billy Torrence, on his path to victory.

Palmer secured the No. 12 qualifying spot and took down Richie Crampton, Leah Pritchett and Greg Carrillo as he reached the first final round of his career in Top Fuel.

Scott Palmer had a career best finish in Top Fuel – placing runner-up

In Pro Stock, McGaha drove to the winner’s circle with a 6.529 at 211.59 run in his Harlow Sammons Chevrolet Camaro to defeat Jason Line in the final round. He secured his sixth career victory and first since winning the Four-Wide Nationals last season in Charlotte.

“We picked up some power this offseason that we’ve been looking for but when we went No. 1 in the first round of qualifying we knew we had something that could compete,” McGaha said. “It’s really satisfying to do this as a one car team, and it’s really special to get our first win of the year.”

Texan Chris McGaha powered his Chevy Camaro to a 6th career win in Pro Stock

McGaha was the No. 7 qualifier as he was victorious against Tanner Gray, Erica Enders and Alex Laughlin as he earned his first victory of the season.

Line qualified fifth on the weekend and beat Vincent Nobile, teammate Greg Anderson and No. 1 qualifier Deric Kramer as he notched his second consecutive runner-up finish to open the year.

Two-Wheeled Top Fuel Report!

Tii Tharpe, won a very spirited season round #2 for the Mickey Thompson presented Top Fuel Harley Division.

Tharpe, who is from East Bend NC., defeated fellow North Carolina rider Jay Turner in the final round of the Mickey Thompson Tires Top Fuel Harley. Turner of Julian, broke at the starting line and Tharpe made a clean pass of 6.337 seconds, 217.39 mph.

Top Fuel Harley winner – Tii Tharpe

Tharpe had defeated Calgary’s Mike Scott in round #1 and recent NHRA Lucas Oil Winternationals winner Doug Vancil in round two.

Turner, who qualified #1 for the 8-bike field (@6.260 secs) was also credited with low ET of the event at 6.205 secs. Vancil carded top speed for the breed at 224.58 mph.

The Lucas Oil Lowdown

Within drag racing’s backbone Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series Sportsman racing, Justin Lamb, Jody Lang, and Paul Nero marched to victory and celebrated with their teams in winner’s circle later on Sunday afternoon.

Lamb, who is from Henderson, Nev., continued the title defense of his 2017 Lucas Oil Super Stock World Championship with a victory over local driver Mike Cotten of Cave Creek. Cotten took a late start and broke out attempting to catch Lamb running 10.025 seconds, 130.99 mph. Lamb notched a victory pass of 8.513 seconds, 149.02 mph.

Defending NHRA Lucas Oil Super Stock World Champion Justin Lamb won in his Chevy Cobalt

Pacific NW racer Jody Lang managed his 29th career NHRA win.

Stock stand out Lang, Puyallup, Wash., captured his 29th national event victory and 20th Stock win as Brian McClanahan, Alta Loma, Calif., triggered the red light at the starting line. Lang cruised to victory in his Chevy Malibu at 12.328 seconds, 94.78 mph.

Rodger Comstock, Fort Lauderdale Fla., made his first final round debut in Top Dragster Presented by Racing RVs. Comstock got off to a great start but Nero, Eugene, Ore., spoiled his debut; forcing Comstock to breakout and stealing the victory. Nero, registered a winning pass of 6.760 seconds, 195.62 mph.

Paul Nero won a hard fought win in Top Dragster class racing.

Racing his Corvette, Bryan Warr, Riverton, Utah ran 6.978 seconds, 196.22 mph to successfully hold off Bud Preuss, Grand Junction Colo., for the Top Sportsman title, Presented by Racing RVs national event Wally.

Bryan Warr scored in Top Sportsman with his cool late model Corvette

The other drivers visiting the winner’s circle were Trevor Harkema in Super Comp; Todd Barton’s showstopping ’55 Chevy in Super Gas, and David Kiesel’s Chevy Vega in Super Street.

Super Comp (9.90) winner Trevor Harkema

Todd Barton’s stunning ’55 Chevy won in Super Gas 9.90 competition.

The 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season continues with the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway March 15-18 in Gainesville, Fla.

Posted with files by NHRA Communications and Bruce Biegler
All photos by Bruce Biegler

To view DragRaceCanada’s very extensive photo gallery from the Phoenix event – click: HERE