Courtney Force raced to victory in Funny Car Sunday at the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals presented by Super Start Batteries at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.
Shawn Langdon (Top Fuel) and Vincent Nobile (Pro Stock) also were winners at the first of 24 events in the 2013 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.
Force powered her Traxxas Ford Mustang past NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger driver Ron Capps with a pass of 4.025 seconds at 317.12 mph to earn her second career victory.
“It was definitely unbelievable,” Force said. “My team, (crew chiefs) Ron Douglas and Dan Hood, thanks to them, they had given me great race car all weekend long. I just try to keep it straight down the center and they really made my job easy. I really owe it to those guys.
“It was kind of bittersweet finishing here (at the NHRA Finals in November) and not getting that win, then coming back and picking up where we left off and finishing our job. We got the win and I’m just proud of my team.”
Capps lost traction mid-track as Force set low E.T. of the race with her winning pass.
“It rattled the tires loose, and I couldn’t catch it. We just got beat by a better car on that run,” he said. “Right now we’re disappointed we didn’t win in the final because when you get into a final there’s nothing to do but win.
“I’ve said it time and time again, Courtney has one of the best cars out here, and she can drive it. That car is going to run hard all year. She’s going to be a thorn in everybody’s side.”
In Top Fuel, Langdon drove his Al-Anabi Racing dragster to the win with his pass of 3.721 at 322.27, defeating seven-time champion Tony Schumacher and the U.S. Army team. In front of a hometown crowd, Langdon said the second victory is so much sweeter than the first.
“Couldn’t have scripted it any better really,” Langdon said. “We struggled a little in qualifying. We didn’t really have the car that we thought we should have had, but we qualified seventh. We knew the things we learned in testing that we had a car capable of winning. It showed today.”
In the second round of eliminations, 2012 world champion Antron Brown’s Matco Tools dragster went out of control and crashed near the finish line.
Brown emerged from the crashed car under his own power and was checked and released by NHRA emergency services officials. He received only minor injuries in the incident.
“I am feeling good,” Brown said. “I’ve got some scrapes on my legs and my back is a little sore, but overall I feel good. The best feeling was seeing how quickly the NHRA Safety Safari got to my car after it stopped. The car did its job and we’ll be ready for Phoenix.”
Nobile claimed his sixth Pro Stock victory with a performance of 6.571 at 211.03 in his Mountain View Tire Dodge Avenger, taking the automatic victory over Jeg Coughlin, who turned on the red light at the starting line and fouled out in his JEGS.com/Mopar Dodge Avenger.
The final round win did not come without some drama for Nobile, too, as his car stalled after the burnout and his crew struggled to get it refired. Opponent Coughlin also had his share of problems as his JEGS Avenger stalled on the starting line.
“We messed with the carburetors before the final in order to fix a problem and we ended up hurting something else,” said Nobile. “After the burnout the car actually stalled on me. Then Jeg’s car stalled. I didn’t know what was going on. At one point they told me that he was broken and that I was getting a single run and then his car started again. It was crazy but thankfully, we got the win.”
“It’s really awesome to win, especially to do it in front of the whole Mitsos family and the Mountain View Performance team,” said Nobile, referring to team owners Nick and Irene Mitsos, who reside just a few miles from Pomona.
“It’s pretty awesome leaving here with the points lead,” he added. “That’s every team’s goal. Now we just want to stay there, stay consistent and keep the wins coming.”
The Mello Yello Drag Racing Series rolls in to Phoenix Feb. 22-24 for the NHRA Arizona Nationals at Firebird International Raceway which will be aired on ESPN2HD.
(Photos courtesy NHRA/National Dragster; JFR/Lewis; Click to enlarge)
ROUND ONE — Shawn Langdon, 3.803, 294.37 def. Clay Millican, 3.811, 321.42; Antron Brown, 3.855, 293.60 def. Larry Dixon, 3.881, 310.34; Brandon Bernstein, 3.785, 324.44 def. Brittany Force, 3.822, 323.43; Tony Schumacher, 3.756, 326.40 def. Sidnei Frigo, 3.849, 317.57; Doug Kalitta, 3.799, 326.71 def. Leah Pruett, 3.850, 309.56; David Grubnic, 3.741, 325.69 def. Morgan Lucas, 3.764, 328.14; Khalid alBalooshi, 3.769, 326.40 def. Bob Vandergriff, 3.810, 324.36; Steve Torrence, 3.787, 322.81 def. Spencer Massey, 3.763, 326.63; QUARTERFINALS — Langdon, 3.738, 327.43 def. Bernstein, 3.775, 323.89; alBalooshi, 3.782, 320.66 def. Kalitta, 3.800, 325.22; Brown, 3.848, 308.64 def. Grubnic, 4.976, 139.07; Schumacher, 3.756, 322.19 def. Torrence, 3.782, 324.28; SEMIFINALS — Schumacher, 6.465, 96.17 def. Brown, broke; Langdon, 3.749, 324.67 def. alBalooshi, 4.326, 195.25; FINAL — Langdon, 3.721, 322.27 def. Schumacher, 3.747, 324.12.
ROUND ONE — Cruz Pedregon, Toyota Camry, 5.165, 247.75 def. Robert Hight, Ford Mustang, 5.416, 201.04; Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 4.137, 311.56 def. Del Worsham, Camry, 4.615, 234.21; Courtney Force, Mustang, 4.066, 316.97 def. Phil Burkart, Chevy Monte Carlo, 7.183, 88.37; Todd Lesenko, Dodge Charger, 5.013, 176.33 def. Jack Beckman, Charger, 5.457, 149.45; Gary Densham, Charger, 5.023, 173.21 def. Tony Pedregon, Camry, 5.071, 151.58; Ron Capps, Charger, 4.108, 313.58 def. John Force, Mustang, 4.119, 313.07; Johnny Gray, Charger, 4.056, 314.31 def. Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 6.255, 107.43; Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.346, 227.84 def. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, foul; QUARTERFINALS — Capps, 4.251, 241.84 def. Densham, 5.808, 105.41; Gray, 4.038, 307.72 def. Lesenko, 4.202, 307.30; C. Force, 4.070, 312.64 def. Hagan, 5.668, 140.31; Tasca III, 4.154, 311.20 def. C. Pedregon, 4.523, 189.15; SEMIFINALS — Capps, 4.036, 316.23 def. Gray, 4.056, 301.07; C. Force, 10.422, 49.91 def. Tasca III, foul; FINAL — C. Force, 4.025, 317.12 def. Capps, 6.090, 116.32.
ROUND ONE — Greg Stanfield, Chevy Camaro, 6.599, 209.56 def. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.686, 208.88; Allen Johnson, Dodge Avenger, 6.602, 211.10 def. Rodger Brogdon, Camaro, 13.918, 62.30; Jeg Coughlin, Avenger, 6.572, 211.10 def. Steve Kent, Pontiac GXP, 6.600, 209.33; Kurt Johnson, GXP, 6.596, 210.14 def. Erica Enders-Stevens, Chevy Cobalt, 8.682, 92.42; Chris McGaha, Avenger, 6.599, 210.31 def. Mike Edwards, Camaro, 12.362, 61.44; V. Gaines, Avenger, 6.557, 211.93 def. Deric Kramer, Avenger, 6.614, 209.04; Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.604, 209.88 def. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.570, 212.19; Vincent Nobile, Avenger, 6.580, 210.60 def. Matt Hartford, Avenger, 10.367, 88.35; QUARTERFINALS — Stanfield, 6.616, 208.68 def. McGaha, DQ; Nobile, 6.592, 210.01 def. Gray, 6.644, 209.33; Gaines, 6.566, 211.06 def. A. Johnson, 6.575, 210.77; Coughlin, 6.569, 210.47 def. K. Johnson, 6.672, 207.75; SEMIFINALS — Nobile, 6.575, 210.34 def. Stanfield, 6.588, 209.75; Coughlin, 6.574, 208.42 def. Gaines, 6.538, 212.23; FINAL — Nobile, 6.584, 210.05 def. Coughlin, foul.
POMONA, Calif. — Sunday’s final sportsman results from the 53rd annual O’Reilly NHRA Winternationals presented by Super Start Batteries at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona. The race is the first of 24 in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series:
Top Alcohol Dragster — Jim Whiteley, 5.245, 273.39 def. Chris Demke, 5.271, 270.86.
Top Alcohol Funny Car — John Lombardo Jr., Chevy Monte Carlo, 5.555, 261.17 def. Jason Rupert, Monte Carlo, 5.653, 255.63.
Competition Eliminator — Ross Wilson, Sunfire, 8.167, 165.50 def. Alan Ellis, ’23-T Ford, 6.604, 204.54.
Super Stock — Jimmy DeFrank, Cobalt, 9.316, 113.03 def. Mike Cotten, Barracuda, foul.
Stock Eliminator — Jimmy DeFrank, Camaro, 10.372, 126.42 def. Michael Iacono, Camaro, 11.069, 115.53.
Super Comp — Phil Dion, Dragster, 8.934, 168.14 def. Scott Taylor, Dragster, 9.123, 165.33.
Super Gas — Rick Beckstrom, Grand Am, 9.904, 160.71 def. Peter Bothe, Porsche, 9.927, 148.09.