Force Starts 2012 With A Victory At Winternationals

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, February 12 2012

John Force began his run at a 16th Funny Car championship by winning the Winternationals on Sunday. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Harold Hinson)

John Force, who won just one NHRA Funny Car event in 2011, started the 2012 season with a victory in the O’Reilly Auto Parts Winternationals in Pomona, Calif. on Sunday.

Also collecting class victories at Pomona were Spencer Massey in Top Fuel and Greg Anderson in Pro Stock.

To get his victory, Force beat teammate/employee Mike Neff  in the finals and with a pass at 316.64 mph and in 4.080 seconds.

“It’s a great start,” Force said. “You really want to perform. I know all those other kids on our teams and others, like Cruz Pedregon, the Schumacher teams, [Tim] Wilkerson, and [Bob] Tasca, those guys are going to win races, and it was just nice to get a win under my belt. Those boys are bad out there. To make that top 10 is going to be tough. Somebody’s going to be left out, so I’m just going to keep fighting and keep my nose clean.”

Force, 62, used a holeshot start to claim his sixth win at this event and 15th at Pomona.

“Before the final, I said, ‘What are we going to do ‘Guido?’ (crew chief Dean Antonelli),” Force said. “He said, ‘We can’t race him the way we are, running .12 or .14. We’re going to have to go after it, and if it smokes the tires, we’ll go home.’ They were all over there, looking at the numbers, and it just went. It wasn’t quick enough to beat him. He was late, so I got the win. He told me something distracted him.”

More pretty good news for Force and his John Force Racing team was the first round victory by the youngest Force daughter, Courtney, in the first round of her pro career. She was beat off the line by Bob Tasca III but got the victory when Tasca broke loose down track.

“Seriously unreal,” she said.

Tasca, who, like Force was driiving a Ford, said, “We had a great run off the line…big starting line advantage. We had an advantage right up until we smoked the tires against Courtney Force. She made another solid run. Hats off to Courtney and her team. For her first race, to come out here and basically go down the race track with consistent runs. That’s ultimately what got us. We were trying to run hard. We knew this Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Mustang could put a mid-40 up on the board. Unfortunately we

Spencer Massey is 1-0 in 2012. (Photo courtesy of the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series)

had a disc that came apart. The clutch wore an awful lot. We just had too much arm angle out there and it caused the tires to smoke.”

The bad news for JFR was a first-round loss sustained by pole-sitter Robert Hight.

Neff beat Courtney Force in the second round.

Massey got his victory when he beat Don Schumacher Racing teammate Antron Brown in the final round. Massey’s winning pass was at 325.77 mph and in 3.750 seconds.

Massey of Fort Worth, Texas, set an NHRA national speed record Sunday.

Massey and crew chiefs Phil Shuler and Todd Okuhara set the record with a run of 328.62 mph in 3.745 seconds – the second quickest in Top Fuel history – in the semifinals when Massey beat U.S. Army teammate Tony Schumacher.

“Coming up a little short and ending up in second place last year made us that much more hungry and motivated to win a championship, so we focused this winter and acted like there wasn’t an offseason,” said Massey, who beat Steve Faria, Clay Millican and Tony Schumacher in early rounds.

“It shows that they know what it takes to get the car down the racetrack,” Massey continued. “After the second round, we didn’t have any computer data, and (crew chiefs) Phil (Shuler) and Todd (Okuhara) tuned that thing like it was a Top Fuel car from 1968. They looked at the plugs, looked at the bearings, and it went 3.74 at 328 mph. It’s awesome to start like this and have the No. 1 spot going into Phoenix. This is my life dream, and we’re living it.”

Anderson got his victory by spoiling the return to the NHRA Pro Stock class of Jeg Coughlin in the final. Anderson had a run of 210.87 mph and a time of 6.549 seconds.

Coughlin, a four-time Pro Stock champion, sat the 2011 season out.

Anderson raced past Larry Morgan, Allen Johnson and teammate and defending world champ Jason Line to advance to the final.

“I wasn’t the quickest driver out here today, but I was very consistent,” Anderson said. “We managed to stop the big yellow Mopar [of Jeg Coughlin in the final]. He sure came out swinging. You’re always aware of how good Jeg is driving. I’ve never been very good at tuning that kind of stuff out, but it worked today. The crew made great decisions, and here we are back in the winner’s circle again.”

The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series continues next weekend (Feb. 17-19) at Firebird International Raceway near Phoenix with the NHRA Arizona Nationals.

Final finish order (1-16) for professional categories at the 52nd annual O’Reilly NHRA Winternationals presented by Super Start Batteries at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona. The race is the first of 23 events in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series.


1. Spencer Massey; 2. Antron Brown; 3. Tony Schumacher; 4. Morgan Lucas; 5. Shawn Langdon; 6. Bob Vandergriff; 7. Clay Millican; 8. Brandon Bernstein; 9. David Grubnic; 10. Steve Torrence; 11. Khalid alBalooshi; 12. Rod Fuller; 13. Terry McMillen; 14. Steve Faria; 15. Cory McClenathan; 16. Doug Kalitta.


1. John Force; 2. Mike Neff; 3. Ron Capps; 4. Gary Densham; 5. Courtney Force; 6. Tim Wilkerson; 7. Todd Lesenko; 8. Jack Beckman; 9. Alexis DeJoria; 10. Jeff Arend; 11. Tony Pedregon; 12. Matt Hagan; 13. Bob Tasca III; 14. Bob Bode; 15. Robert Hight; 16. Johnny Gray.


1. Greg Anderson; 2. Jeg Coughlin; 3. Jason Line; 4. Mike Edwards; 5. Allen Johnson; 6. Shane Gray; 7. Vincent Nobile; 8. Rodger Brogdon; 9. Ronnie Humphrey; 10. Greg Stanfield; 11. Kurt Johnson; 12. Ron Krisher; 13. Larry Morgan; 14. V. Gaines; 15. Grace Howell; 16. Erica Enders.

POMONA, Calif. — Sunday’s final results from the 52nd annual O’Reilly NHRA Winternationals presented by Super Start Batteries at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona. The race is the first of 23 in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series:

Top Fuel — Spencer Massey, 3.750 seconds, 325.77 mph def. Antron Brown, 3.794 seconds, 320.43 mph.

Funny Car — John Force, Ford Mustang, 4.080, 315.64 def. Mike Neff, Mustang, 4.036, 316.82.

Pro Stock — Greg Anderson, Pontiac GXP, 6.549, 210.87 def. Jeg Coughlin, Dodge Avenger, 6.586, 209.62.

Top Alcohol Dragster — Chris Demke, 5.281, 270.32 def. Larry Miersch, 5.503, 267.27.

Top Alcohol Funny Car — Daniel Oliver, Chevy Monte Carlo, 5.531, 258.67 def. Jay Payne, Ford Mustang, 5.548, 260.36.

POMONA, Calif. — Final round-by-round results from the 52nd annual O’Reilly NHRA Winternationals presented by Super Start Batteries at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, the first of 23 events in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series:


ROUND ONE — Clay Millican, 3.818, 318.92 def. Khalid alBalooshi, 3.917, 310.55; Shawn Langdon, 3.827, 322.81 def. Steve Torrence, 3.820, 320.28; Brandon Bernstein, 3.832, 319.22 def. David Grubnic, 3.816, 318.84; Antron Brown, 3.801, 325.92 def. Cory McClenathan, 5.902, 108.47; Morgan Lucas, 3.805, 323.43 def. Rod Fuller, 4.040, 251.30; Bob Vandergriff, 3.835, 324.20 def. Terry McMillen, 4.262, 222.58; Spencer Massey, 3.782, 325.53 def. Steve Faria, 5.831, 114.66; Tony Schumacher, 3.790, 324.67 def. Doug Kalitta, 6.195, 109.82;

QUARTERFINALS — Lucas, 3.792, 323.12 def. Langdon, 3.791, 319.45; Brown, 3.771, 323.35 def. Bernstein, 10.000, 75.56; Schumacher, 3.790, 324.83 def. Vandergriff, 3.815, 323.04; Massey, 3.776, 326.79 def. Millican, 3.847, 315.49;

SEMIFINALS — Massey, 3.745, 328.62 def. Schumacher, 3.809, 322.88; Brown, 3.819, 320.28 def. Lucas, 4.430, 178.57;

FINAL — Massey, 3.750, 325.77 def. Brown, 3.794, 320.43.


ROUND ONE — Gary Densham, Dodge Charger, 4.102, 304.53 def. Jeff Arend, Toyota Solara, 4.163, 307.44; Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 4.068, 306.19 def. Johnny Gray, Charger, 6.364, 105.15; Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.278, 306.60 def. Bob Bode, Chevy Impala, 5.630, 135.32; Todd Lesenko, Impala, 4.695, 187.34 def. Robert Hight, Mustang, 5.941, 116.00; Mike Neff, Mustang, 4.077, 316.97 def. Tony Pedregon, Impala, 4.249, 289.01; Courtney Force, Mustang, 4.204, 309.27 def. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 4.465, 205.57; John Force, Mustang, 4.124, 313.44 def. Alexis DeJoria, Toyota Camary, 4.141, 310.27; Ron Capps, Charger, 4.093, 312.06 def. Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.298, 269.73;

QUARTERFINALS — Densham, No Time, No Speed def. Beckman, DQ; Capps, 4.086, 311.13 def. Lesenko, 32.593, 24.55; Neff, 4.070, 315.49 def. C. Force, 4.143, 313.88; J. Force, 4.160, 311.27 def. Wilkerson, 4.574, 208.23;

SEMIFINALS — J. Force, 4.141, 312.50 def. Densham, foul; Neff, 4.074, 314.53 def. Capps, 4.101, 308.50;

FINAL — J. Force, 4.080, 315.64 def. Neff, 4.036, 316.82.


ROUND ONE — Shane Gray, Pontiac GXP, 6.571, 210.05 def. Ron Krisher, GXP, 6.605, 199.79; Rodger Brogdon, GXP, 6.561, 210.24 def. Kurt Johnson, GXP, 6.590, 210.50; Vincent Nobile, Dodge Avenger, 6.558, 211.56 def. Greg Stanfield, GXP, 6.585, 210.28; Jeg Coughlin, Avenger, 6.581, 210.47 def. Ronnie Humphrey, GXP, 6.569, 211.99; Greg Anderson, GXP, 6.539, 211.46 def. Larry Morgan, Ford Mustang, 6.607, 210.18; Mike Edwards, GXP, 6.649, 211.06 def. V. Gaines, Avenger, 6.646, 208.97; Jason Line, GXP, 6.546, 212.46 def. Grace Howell, Mustang, 6.728, 207.08; Allen Johnson, Avenger, 6.559, 211.10 def. Erica Enders, Chevy Cobalt, foul;

QUARTERFINALS — Edwards, 6.575, 210.28 def. Brogdon, 6.658, 189.31; Coughlin, 6.590, 209.85 def. Nobile, 6.609, 209.43; Line, 6.534, 212.13 def. Gray, foul; Anderson, 6.550, 210.97 def. A. Johnson, 6.570, 210.93;

SEMIFINALS — Coughlin, 6.615, 209.30 def. Edwards, foul; Anderson, 6.545, 211.03 def. Line, 6.547, 211.83;

FINAL — Anderson, 6.549, 210.87 def. Coughlin, 6.586, 209.62.

POMONA, Calif. — Point standings (top 10) for NHRA professional categories following the 52nd annual O’Reilly NHRA Winternationals presented by Super Start Batteries at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, the first of 23 events in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series –

Top Fuel

1. Spencer Massey, 119; 2. Antron Brown, 95; 3. Morgan Lucas, 87; 4. Tony Schumacher, 78; 5. Bob Vandergriff, 57; 6. (tie) Brandon Bernstein, 54; Shawn Langdon, 54; 8. Clay Millican, 52; 9. Khalid alBalooshi, 34; 10. (tie) David Grubnic, 32; Doug Kalitta, 32; Steve Torrence, 32; Steve Faria, 32.

Funny Car

1. John Force, 114; 2. Mike Neff, 95; 3. (tie) Ron Capps, 73; Gary Densham, 73; 5. Jack Beckman, 62; 6. Courtney Force, 52; 7. (tie) Todd Lesenko, 51; Tim Wilkerson, 51; 9. Robert Hight, 41; 10. Bob Tasca III, 39.

Pro Stock

1. Greg Anderson, 114; 2. Jeg Coughlin, 91; 3. Jason Line, 82; 4. Mike Edwards, 81; 5. Allen Johnson, 59; 6. Vincent Nobile, 55; 7. (tie) Rodger Brogdon, 53; Shane Gray, 53; 9. Ronnie Humphrey, 41; 10. (tie) Kurt Johnson, 32; Ron Krisher, 32; Larry Morgan, 32; Greg Stanfield, 32; Erica Enders, 32.

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, February 12 2012
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