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Brittany Force Takes Provisional Pole At Gatornationals

| , RacinToday.com Saturday, March 19 2016
Brittany Force continues to reap the benefits of having Alan Johnson on board.

Brittany Force continues to reap the benefits of having Alan Johnson on board.

RacinToday.com

Top Fuel drivers Brittany Force and Steve Torrence continued to benefit from their technical alliances with super-tuner Alan Johnson Friday during first-round qualifications for the 47th annual Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals.

Bidding to score her first national event victory, Force raced into the provisional qualifying lead and Torrence _ winner of the season-opening Circle K NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, Calif. _ emerged in third after two rounds of time trials at historic Gainesville (Fla.) Raceway.

“Fast” Jack Beckman (Funny Car), Jason Line (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also were leaders at the third of 24 events in the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season.

Force powered her Monster Energy dragster to a 1,000-foot pass in 3.745-seconds at 309.56 mph to earn the provisional pole. Force, runnerup in Chandler, Ariz., near Phoenix, three weeks ago, has four No. 1 qualifiers in her career while still chasing her first victory.

“I’ve been to quite a few finals now and the first few I was excited to be in a final,” said Force, whose John Force Racing entry is owned by father and 16-time Funny Car world champion John Force. “Now I don’t feel the same way. You’re happy to be there but you want to bring home the win now. That’s all we want. We want to bring home that win.

“I feel good about this season and I think you’re seeing it with the performance at the first two races and then today. This shows you what we’re capable of and what‘s to be expected.”

Force was among several drivers who expressed concern about a forecast calling for rain. “Coming out here, we didn’t know what we were going to get with the weather conditions,” Force said. “We were at least hoping to get one good run in and we did that our first run and then we really stepped it up on the second run. When I got out and they told me that we were No. 1 and what we ran, I was blown away.”

Antron Brown, the two-time/reigning world champion, pushed his Matco Tools dragster into the second qualifying position at 3.755-seconds and 319.07 mph. Brown, who won this event in 2013, was followed by Torrence in his Capco Contractors dragster. Eight-time world champion Tony Schumacher sits fourth in the U.S. Army dragster with Clay Millican in fifth.

Beckman set a Gainesville Raceway Funny Car track record during Friday’s second session with a 1,000-foot pass in 3.913-seconds at 323.74 mph in his Infinite Hero Foundation Dodge Charger R/T. Eight 3-second runs were recorded in Funny Car on Friday. Beckman has 16 poles in his career and is two sessions away from securing his first at Gainesville.

“It’s always tough when you show up to a race and the forecast is rain, rain, rain,” said Beckman, the 2012 world champion. “It rained yesterday and the forecast didn’t look good for today. We got one run in and I thought for sure that was going to be it and we smoked the tires on that first run so I was a little bit frustrated. So to be able to get the full session in for the Florida fans and to be able to run that good for the Infinite Hero Team, that’s a perfect day for me.”

Beckman opened the 2016 season with a pole at the prestigious Winternationals last month. Last year, Beckman won a career-high seven events and reset the national ET record four times before finishing second in points to eventual world champion Del Worsham of Kalitta Motorsports.

Ron Capps, Beckman’s Don Schumacher Racing teammate, currently is second in his NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger R/T at 3.929-seconds and 319.37 mph. Capps rode into Gainesville with momentum after winning at Chandler, Ariz. John Force Racing teammates Courtney Force and Robert Hight sit third and fourth, respectively, in their Chevrolet Camaro SS entries.

Line took the qualifying lead in Pro Stock with a quarter-mile pass in 6.596-seconds at 210.01 mph in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevy Camaro. The Phoenix winner has 41 career poles and four wins at Gainesville Raceway, where he is looking to secure his first No. 1 qualifier on Saturday.

“There’s a long ways to go and we don’t feel like we’re running up to our potential. And I know the other teams aren’t doing as well,” said Line, a two-time world champion. “It’s just a matter of time but for right now I’m going to enjoy the fact we have a small advantage and it’s fun to come to the racetrack.”

Line was followed by Ken Black Racing teammates Greg Anderson and Bo Butner, currently in second and third, respectively. Anderson, a four-time world champion, powered his Summit Racing Equipment Camaro to a run in 6.613-seconds at 209.39 mph while Butner posted a 6.617-second pass at 209.33 mph in his Jim Butner Auto Camaro. Two-time/reigning world champ Erica Enders is fourth in her Elite Motorsports Dodge Dart while Alex Laughlin is fifth in the Gas Monkey Garage Camaro.

In the 2016 debut of the Pro Stock Motorcycle class, Krawiec raced into the provisional lead with a quarter-mile pass in 6.808-seconds at 197.71 mph aboard his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson V-Rod. Krawiec has 27 poles in his career and one at Gainesville, where he has three wins.

“Anytime you can come off the trailer and make a great run like (we did) it sets the pace for the season,” said Krawiec, a three-time world champion. “That’s the way I look at it; not just the event but the season because that’s what’s all in front of you.”

Chip Ellis rode his Junior Pippin Trucking Company Buell into the second qualifying position with a 6.829-second pass at 195.34 mph. Andrew Hines, the five-time/reigning PSM champion and Krawiec’s H-D teammate, sits third. Angelle Sampey, a three-time world champion, is fourth aboard her Buell.

Qualifying resumes Saturday at noon (EDT) with the final two sessions to set the fields for Sunday’s 11 a.m. eliminations. Spencer Massey (Top Fuel), Capps (Funny Car), Anderson (Pro Stock) and Karen Stoffer (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of an event that will be televised on FOX Sports 1 (FS1). The network will air one hour of qualifying highlights Saturday at 6:30 p.m. (EDT) and three hours of live finals coverage Sunday beginning at 1 p.m.

Friday’s qualifying results after the first two of four rounds of time trials for the 47th annual AMALIE Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway, third of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Qualifying will continue Saturday for Sunday’s final eliminations.

Top Fuel _ 1. Brittany Force, 3.745-seconds, 320.81 mph; 2. Antron Brown, 3.755, 319.07; 3. Steve Torrence, 3.757, 325.22; 4. Tony Schumacher, 3.760, 314.75; 5. Clay Millican, 3.787, 324.51; 6. Dave Connolly, 3.793, 323.04; 7. Leah Pritchett, 3.858, 310.13; 8. Tripp Tatum, 3.873, 313.88; 9. Ike Maier, 3.937, 301.00; 10. Terry McMillen, 4.448, 185.03; 11. J.R. Todd, 4.479, 175.39; 12. Morgan Lucas, 4.715, 157.91.

Not Qualified _ 13. Richie Crampton, 4.831, 150.26; 14. Shawn Langdon, 5.634, 123.18; 15. Doug Kalitta, 6.543, 106.29; 16. Chris Karamesines, 13.685, 35.86.

Funny Car _ 1. Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger, 3.913, 323.74; 2. Ron Capps, Charger, 3.929, 319.37; 3. Courtney Force, Chevy Camaro, 3.944, 321.42; 4. Robert Hight, Camaro, 3.945, 322.96; 5. Del Worsham, Toyota Camry, 3.958, 320.28; 6. Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.965, 321.12; 7. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 3.978, 315.05; 8. Chad Head, Camry, 3.981, 318.47; 9. John Force, Camaro, 4.063, 262.69; 10. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.074, 305.29; 11. John Hale, Charger, 4.170, 290.19; 12. Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 4.505, 188.17.

Not Qualified _ 13. Dave Richards, 4.561, 195.68; 14. Terry Haddock, 4.980, 161.32; 15. Cruz Pedregon, 5.276, 140.49; 16. Jeff Diehl, 16.124, 77.38.

Pro Stock _ 1. Jason Line, Chevy Camaro, 6.596, 210.01; 2. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.613, 209.39; 3. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.617, 209.33; 4. Erica Enders, Dodge Dart, 6.644, 207.82; 5. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.647, 208.36; 6. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.652, 208.62; 7. Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.655, 206.54; 8. Kenny Delco, Camaro, 6.659, 207.62; 9. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.660, 208.01; 10. Allen Johnson, Dart, 6.662, 206.29; 11. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.671, 205.60; 12. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.682, 207.78.

Not Qualified _ 13. V. Gaines, 6.693, 206.51; 14. Jeg Coughlin, 6.695, 206.67; 15. John Gaydosh Jr, 6.807, 204.73.

Pro Stock Motorcycle_ 1. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.808, 197.71; 2. Chip Ellis, Buell, 6.829, 195.34; 3. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.844, 194.94; 4. Angelle Sampey, Buell, 6.854, 192.44; 5. Scotty Pollacheck, Buell, 6.885, 191.57; 6. Michael Ray, Buell, 6.892, 195.45; 7. Hector Arana, Buell, 6.899, 193.74; 8. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.900, 195.03; 9. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 6.907, 197.22; 10. Melissa Surber, Buell, 6.907, 193.38; 11. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.909, 192.60; 12. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.911, 192.41.

Not Qualified _ 13. Angie Smith, 6.915, 192.77; 14. Brian Pretzel, 6.928, 193.90; 15. Cory Reed, 6.933, 191.40; 16. Michael Phillips, 6.942, 193.71; 17. Hector Arana Jr., 6.942, 194.02; 18. Karen Stoffer, 6.950, 193.07; 19. Matt Smith, 6.962, 193.71; 20. Mike Berry, 6.968, 190.11; 21. David Hope, 6.969, 188.86; 22. Joe DeSantis, 6.995, 192.58; 23. Kalle Lyren, 7.056,

| , RacinToday.com Saturday, March 19 2016
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