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Rain Postpones NHRA In Seattle; Finals Move To Other Tracks

| , RacinToday.com Monday, August 8 2016
Rain in the Northwest forced postponement of Sunday's finals.

Rain in the Northwest forced postponement of Sunday’s finals.


NHRA’s three-race summertime “Western Swing” ended under an umbrella late Sunday, when intermittent rain forced postponement of the final rounds of Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock during the 29th annual NHRA Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceways in Kent, Wash.

After multiple rain delays in the Seattle area NHRA officials announced the Funny Car final between Del Worsham and Ron Capps and the Top Fuel final between Antron Brown and Steve Torrence would be completed during the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals Aug. 18-21 at Brainerd (Minn.) International Raceway.

The Pro Stock final between Washington native Aaron Strong and Vincent Nobile will be decided during the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis, Aug. 31-Sept. 5. That prestigious event will set the fields for the six-race Countdown to the Championship playoffs.

Worsham, the reigning Funny Car world champion and elapsed time national record-holder from Kalitta Motorsports, defeated Tim Gibbons and former world champions Robert Hight and Matt Hagan to reach the final. Capps, a four-time winner this season for Don Schumacher Racing, faced Brandon Welch, Tommy Johnson Jr. and Jeff Diehl en route to his eighth final round of the season.

“I so wanted to finish what we’ve started here,” said Worsham, who set the 1,000-foot E.T. national record in qualifying Saturday at 3.832-seconds for his second consecutive pole. “The DHL Toyota Camry has been on a rail all weekend, and now we have to go to a different track two weeks from now to finish this event. However, I have the most confidence in my guys and our team and we’ll go to Brainerd and plan on scoring the Seattle trophy there.” 

In Top Fuel, two-time/reigning world champion and point-leader Brown defeated T.J. Zizzo, Clay Millican and Morgan Lucas to reach his sixth final round of the season. Torrence, the No. 2 qualifier, took down Scott Palmer, Richie Crampton and J.R. Todd in order to secure a spot in his fifth final of the season.

Brown’s team extended its championship lead over Doug Kalitta to 100 points/five rounds of racing; a win over Torrence would pad that by 20.

“The whole Matco Tools/U.S. Army/Toyota/Pennzoil guys just did a fantastic job all weekend,” Brown said. “We just kept getting better and better as the weekend went on. That’s the main thing, we’re just gaining ground to get to where we needed to be. I’m really thrilled but I wish we would’ve gotten this race in. I felt real confident with what we were going to throw down in the final. We’ll take it to Brainerd and we’ll see how we can finish this bad boy off.”

Brown extended his lead over Kalitta when the latter was defeated in the opening round.”It’ll put a little pressure on us (in Brainerd) but it also puts a little more meaning into qualifying, which is special,” Brown said. “It doesn’t make a difference who you run, you have to run quick to beat everyone right now. The Torrence car has been a strong, dominant force this whole year but we’re right there. I think it’s going to be a great show.”

Torrence is 2-2 in previous finals, including wins at Pomona, Calif., and Englishtown, N.J. “It’s pretty disappointing not to get this thing run today,” said Torrence, driver of the Capco Contractors/Rio Ammunition dragster. “But no matter when or where we finally run it, we’ve got a team and a hot rod that can win it.”

In what emerged as the feel-good story of the weekend, Auburn, Wash., native Strong dominated in the early rounds to defeat four-time Pro Stock world champion Greg Anderson, two-time/reigning world champion Erica Enders and rookie sensation Bo Butner to reach the first final round of his career. Nobile had a bye in the first round and went on to defeat Shane Gray and two-time world champion Jason Line for a chance at the upset victory.

“I’m probably the most familiar with this track,” said Strong, driver of the A&J Furniture Manufacturing Chevrolet Camaro SS. “I’ve made more passes down it Bracket racing over the years, but Pro Stock is a whole different deal. We couldn’t be happier with what we’ve been able to accomplish here at home.” Strong is the 101st different finalist in Pro Stock history.

Earlier, 16-time world champion John Force’s march to an unprecedented second “Western Swing” sweep was derailed when his new Realtree PEAK Antifreeze Chevrolet Camaro SS was trailered in the first round of Funny Car eliminations. Force won the first two rounds of the western trip _ at Bandimere Speedway in suburban Morrison, Colo., near Denver and Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway _ to set up the opportunity to sweep for the second time since 1994. Brute is the only Funny Car driver to accomplish the feat.

Courtney Force, John’s daughter, also was eliminated in the first round when her Traxxas Chevrolet Camaro SS lost traction early in the 1,000-foot pass and slapped the concrete guard wall with the left side of the bodywork. She was evaluated at Valley Medical Center and released.

“I’m beat-up pretty good,” said Courtney, the No. 3 qualifier. “My arm, my shoulder and my right knee are banged-up. I’m really thankful that the second I got out of the race car there was already an (NHRA) Safety Safari person right there to help me get down. I couldn’t put any weight on my right knee. I want to say thanks to everyone that was at the track who helped me. I got right to the ER and the doctor checked me out.

“I’m extremely relieved nothing is broken. I definitely have a love/hate relationship with this track since I have won here twice and have had two incidents, but happy to be safe.”

| , RacinToday.com Monday, August 8 2016
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