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John Force Kicks Off Countdown With Victory In North Carolina

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, September 18 2016
John Force added to his NHRA records on Sunday when he won in Concord, N.C. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Harold Hinson)

John Force added to his NHRA records on Sunday when he won in Concord, N.C. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Harold Hinson)

Funny Car driver John Force, the NHRA’s all-time winningest driver, added to his victory record Sunday when he captured the Countdown playoff-opening Carolina Nationals at zMAX Dragway in Concord, N.C.

The victory was No. 146 for Force.

Also picking up victories in their respective categories at the Concord track were Antron Brown in Top Fuel, Jason Line in Pro Stock and Chip Ellis in Pro Stock Motorcycle.

Force, who turned 67 recently, defeated Ron Capps of Don Schumacher Racing in the finals.

“We will give you a show in this Countdown,” Force said. “I may not win it, but I will be in the hunt,” said Force, who jumped from the No. 7 seed to No. 3. “We’re starting to turn the corner. In this life, they are running for president at my age, so this isn’t about getting old. It’s about NHRA drag racing. You (fans) are what makes me live, what makes me breathe.”

Force is a 16-time NHRA champion.

Force, the No. 3 qualifier in the Chevrolet Camaro SS, defeated No. 1 qualifier Tommy Johnson Jr. in the final with a pass of 3.946 seconds at 325.04 mph. He eliminated Dave Richards, Tim Wilkerson, and Ron Capps to reach his 245th career final round. Force is 54-32 in head-to-head matchups with Capps, who entered the Countdown as the No. 1 seed.

Brown beat Doug Kalitta to get his victory.

Brown defeated Clay Millican, Brittany Force and Pat Dakin to reach the finals, while Kalitta dispatched Ike Maier, Leah Pritchett and Wayne Newby to set up the final round match-up between the two Top Fuel point leaders.

“What about that Matco Tools Toyota?” Brown said after winning his series-high fifth event of the season. “Incredible. I love these guys. It was a heck of a race against (Doug) Kalitta. Now we just want to keep our heads down and keep working for the next five races. This is the way you start the Countdown. We just wanted to go out there and race the track (as track temperatures were in excess of 130 degrees). Today, we just orchestrated it one round at a time. When the competition rises, it makes us rise.”

Line defeated KB Racing teammate Greg Anderson in the finals.

Thirty-nine times Anderson and Line have qualified 1-2 in an NHRA Mello Yello Pro Stock event, and 32 times one of the champion drivers has gone on to win. Line, who entered the Countdown as the No. 1 seed, picked up the Wally with a pass of 6.621 seconds to No. 1 qualifier Anderson’s 6.639.

It was the ninth time that Anderson and Line, who combined to win 14 of the 18 regular-season Pro Stock races, met in the final round this season.

“I wouldn’t say we’ve been dominating, but we just happened to win today,” said Line, who drove the Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro SS to the final round for the 13th time this season. “The Summit Racing Chevy was bad to the bone, and I did a good job of not messing it up.”

Line and Anderson retain the Nos. 1 and 2 spots heading to Gateway Motorsports Park in St. Louis, which hosts the second round of the Countdown to the Championship on Sept. 23-25 with the NHRA Midwest Nationals. Drew Skillman (Ray Skillman Auto Chevrolet Camaro SS) earned his initial Pro Stock victory at the track last year, and Anderson reset the elapsed time track record at 6.492 seconds.

In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Ellis rode his PiranaZ/Pippin Motorsports Buell to a 6.879 at 194.88 to defeat points leader Andrew Hines and his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley Davidson’s 6.908 at 193.49 in the final. Ellis has seven wins in his Pro Stock Motorcycle career. His last win came in Englishtown, N.J. in 2008.

“I’m ecstatic with our performance today,” Ellis said. “I did get a couple breaks today against Angelle when her bike broke and LE had some issue or else he probably would have beat us. As a racer, some days you just have a feeling where today’s the day and today’s the day.”

In the earlier rounds, Ellis defeated Shawn Gann, LE Tonglet and No. 1 qualifier Angelle Sampey to reach the finals. Hines rode past Melissa Surber, Steve Johnson and Jim Underdahl before falling to Ellis. He maintains the points lead and Ellis jumps to the number two spot.

NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing will continue at the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, Ill., Sept. 23-25.

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CONCORD, N.C. — Final finish order (1-16) at the ninth annual NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMax Dragway.  The race is the 19th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.

TOP FUEL:

  1. Antron Brown; 2.  Doug Kalitta; 3.  Wayne Newby; 4.  Pat Dakin; 5.  Brittany Force; 6.  Leah Pritchett; 7.  Steve Torrence; 8.  Cameron Ferre; 9.  Shawn Langdon; 10.  J.R. Todd; 11.  Scott Palmer; 12.  Ike Maier; 13.  Clay Millican; 14.  Tony Schumacher; 15.  Richie Crampton; 16.  Chris Karamesines.

FUNNY CAR:

  1. John Force; 2.  Tommy Johnson Jr.; 3.  Del Worsham; 4.  Ron Capps; 5.  Matt Hagan; 6.  Robert Hight; 7.  John Bojec; 8.  Tim Wilkerson; 9.  Courtney Force; 10.  Chad Head; 11.  Jack Beckman; 12.  Dave Richards; 13.  Cruz Pedregon; 14.  John Hale; 15.  Bob Gilbertson; 16.  Alexis DeJoria.

PRO STOCK:

  1. Jason Line; 2.  Greg Anderson; 3.  Vincent Nobile; 4.  Alex Laughlin; 5.  Bo Butner; 6.  Chris McGaha; 7.  Jeg Coughlin; 8.  Shane Gray; 9.  Curt Steinbach; 10.  Allen Johnson; 11.  Matt Hartford; 12.  Kenny Delco; 13.  Shane Tucker; 14.  Drew Skillman; 15.  John Gaydosh Jr; 16.  Alan Prusiensky.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE:

  1. Chip Ellis; 2.  Andrew Hines; 3.  Jim Underdahl; 4.  Angelle Sampey; 5.  Steve Johnson; 6. Hector Arana Jr; 7.  Karen Stoffer; 8.  LE Tonglet; 9.  Jerry Savoie; 10.  Matt Smith; 11.  Eddie Krawiec; 12.  Shawn Gann; 13.  Cory Reed; 14.  Melissa Surber; 15.  Mark Paquette; 16.  Hector Arana.

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Sunday’s final results from the ninth annual NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMax Dragway. The race is the 19th of 24 in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series:

Top Fuel — Antron Brown, 3.763 seconds, 319.29 mph  def. Doug Kalitta, 3.811 seconds, 320.28 mph.

Funny Car — John Force, Chevy Camaro, 3.946, 324.05  def. Tommy Johnson Jr., Dodge Charger, 3.987, 315.71.

Pro Stock — Jason Line, Chevy Camaro, 6.621, 209.39  def. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.639, 209.20.

Pro Stock Motorcycle — Chip Ellis, Buell, 6.879, 194.88  def. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.908, 193.49.

Pro Modified — Bob Rahaim, Chevy Corvette, 6.349, 207.85  def. Mike Castellana, Corvette, 9.322, 94.55.

Top Alcohol Dragster — Shawn Cowie, 5.350, 268.06  def. Rich McPhillips, 5.401, 268.81.

Top Alcohol Funny Car — DJ Cox Jr., Chevy Camaro, 5.539, 266.53  def. Ulf Leanders, Chevy Monte Carlo, 5.605, 264.18.

Competition Eliminator — Doug Doll Jr., Dragster, 7.438, 155.94  def. Van Puckett, Chevy Cavalier, 8.641, 149.53.

Super Stock — Peter Biondo, Pontiac Firebird, 9.712, 132.67  def. Jeffery Jewell, Chevy Corvette, 9.722, 138.77.

Stock Eliminator — C.J. McDonald, Chevy Camaro, 11.990, 94.28  def. Brad Ford, Camaro, Foul – Red Light.

Super Comp — Ray Miller Jr., Dragster, 8.880, 180.16  def. Steve Hoyt, Dragster, 8.877, 184.67.

Super Gas — Jason Lynch, Olds Cutlass, 9.909, 161.17  def. Jim Perry, Chevy S-10, 9.923, 166.46.

Top Dragster — Bob Mandell III, Dragster, 6.442, 206.80  def. Jeff Strickland, Dragster, 7.194, 184.83.

Top Sportsman — Gerald Milette, Chevy Corvette, 7.077, 188.36  def. Jonathan Gibbs, Chevy Camaro, 7.443, 185.54.

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Final round-by-round results from the ninth annual NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMax Dragway, the 19th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series:

TOP FUEL:

ROUND ONE — Leah Pritchett, 3.840, 310.20 def. Richie Crampton, 7.051, 97.33; Antron Brown, 3.762, 318.99 def. Clay Millican, 5.606, 117.33; Brittany Force, 3.759, 321.81 def. Chris Karamesines, Broke; Doug Kalitta, 3.768, 324.20 def. Ike Maier, 5.535, 128.37; Cameron Ferre, 4.138, 226.73 def. Tony Schumacher, 6.860, 99.72; Steve Torrence, 4.416, 240.47 def. Scott Palmer, 4.849, 152.16; Wayne Newby, 3.982, 246.71 def. Shawn Langdon, 4.121, 263.36; Pat Dakin, 3.811, 319.90 def. J.R. Todd, 4.667, 173.85; QUARTERFINALS — Newby, 3.849, 316.90 def. Torrence, 3.843, 280.25; Dakin, 5.327, 127.65 def. Ferre, Broke – No Show; Kalitta, 3.817, 320.20 def. Pritchett, 3.836, 320.13; Brown, 3.796, 319.60 def. Force, 3.797, 320.97; SEMIFINALS — Kalitta, 3.879, 311.13 def. Newby, 4.096, 225.41; Brown, 3.870, 311.85 def. Dakin, 6.090, 101.73; FINAL — Brown, 3.763, 319.29 def. Kalitta, 3.811, 320.28.

FUNNY CAR:

ROUND ONE — Tommy Johnson Jr., Dodge Charger, 5.330, 132.70 def. Bob Gilbertson, Chevy Monte Carlo, Broke; Ron Capps, Charger, 3.972, 318.99 def. John Hale, Charger, 26.289, 23.60; John Force, Chevy Camaro, 3.965, 324.75 def. Dave Richards, Ford Mustang, 4.295, 271.19; John Bojec, Toyota Solara, 4.059, 308.78 def. Alexis DeJoria, Toyota Camry, Foul – Centerline; Del Worsham, Camry, 3.976, 321.12 def. Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.275, 220.37; Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.029, 312.28 def. Chad Head, Camry, 4.172, 253.99; Robert Hight, Camaro, 3.916, 327.51 def. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 4.828, 175.25; Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.975, 323.89 def. Courtney Force, Camaro, 4.024, 308.85; QUARTERFINALS — J. Force, 4.013, 319.90 def. Wilkerson, 7.401, 103.50; Capps, 3.983, 314.31 def. Hight, 4.008, 320.51; Worsham, 4.045, 317.34 def. Bojec, Foul – Red Light; Johnson Jr., 3.970, 320.74 def. Hagan, 3.992, 322.11; SEMIFINALS — Johnson Jr., 3.949, 321.19 def. Worsham, 3.990, 322.27; J. Force, 3.957, 323.27 def. Capps, 4.003, 317.57; FINAL — J. Force, 3.946, 324.05 def. Johnson Jr., 3.987, 315.71.

PRO STOCK:

ROUND ONE — Chris McGaha, Chevy Camaro, 6.689, 207.72 def. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.718, 208.52; Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.649, 208.97 def. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.708, 207.75; Jeg Coughlin, Dodge Dart, 6.687, 206.76 def. Allen Johnson, Dart, 6.703, 207.98; Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.658, 208.36 def. Kenny Delco, Camaro, 6.714, 207.40; Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.624, 209.17 def. John Gaydosh Jr, Chevrolet Camaro, 6.736, 205.94; Jason Line, Camaro, 6.639, 208.94 def. Shane Tucker, Camaro, 6.715, 207.46; Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.642, 209.23 def. Alan Prusiensky, Dart, 6.762, 205.35; Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.637, 208.49 def. Curt Steinbach, Camaro, 6.700, 206.07; QUARTERFINALS — Anderson, 6.663, 208.39 def. McGaha, 6.690, 208.10; Line, 6.642, 209.01 def. Butner, 6.672, 209.75; Nobile, 6.660, 207.94 def. Coughlin, 6.705, 206.61; Laughlin, 6.681, 208.78 def. Gray, 6.952, 209.01; SEMIFINALS — Anderson, 6.673, 208.59 def. Laughlin, 6.674, 209.36; Line, 6.630, 209.20 def. Nobile, 6.646, 209.30; FINAL — Line, 6.621, 209.39 def. Anderson, 6.639, 209.20.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE:

ROUND ONE — Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.924, 193.29 def. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.895, 194.21; Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 6.920, 193.07 def. Matt Smith, 6.915, 192.03; Chip Ellis, Buell, 6.875, 194.74 def. Shawn Gann, Buell, 6.959, 191.92; Angelle Sampey, Buell, 10.044, 97.19 def. Mark Paquette, Buell, Foul – Red Light; Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.971, 190.16 def. Melissa Surber, Buell, 7.073, 188.15; LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.884, 195.25 def. Cory Reed, Buell, 6.997, 192.30; Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.932, 194.18 def. Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.948, 193.74; Hector Arana Jr, Buell, 6.901, 194.86 def. Hector Arana, Buell, Broke; QUARTERFINALS — Underdahl, 6.956, 192.49 def. Stoffer, 7.011, 193.32; Sampey, 6.896, 194.02 def. Arana Jr, 6.954, 193.74; Ellis, 6.905, 194.24 def. Tonglet, 7.125, 174.93; Hines, 6.921, 193.29 def. Johnson, 6.926, 192.74; SEMIFINALS — Hines, 6.955, 191.40 def. Underdahl, 6.972, 194.44; Ellis, 6.890, 194.16 def. Sampey, 10.377, 77.18; FINAL — Ellis, 6.879, 194.88 def. Hines, 6.908, 193.49.

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Point standings (top 10) following the ninth annual NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMax Dragway, the 19th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series –

Top Fuel

  1. Antron Brown, 2,226; 2.  Doug Kalitta, 2,184; 3.  Steve Torrence, 2,126; 4.  Brittany Force, 2,110; 5.  Tony Schumacher, 2,099; 6.  J.R. Todd, 2,074; 7.  Shawn Langdon, 2,067; 8.  Leah Pritchett, 2,054; 9.  Clay Millican, 2,052; 10.  Richie Crampton, 2,046.

Funny Car

  1. Ron Capps, 2,194; 2.  Del Worsham, 2,152; 3.  John Force, 2,144; 4.  Tommy Johnson Jr., 2,132; 5.  Matt Hagan, 2,122; 6.  Courtney Force, 2,094; 7.  Robert Hight, 2,093; 8.  Jack Beckman, 2,084; 9.  Tim Wilkerson, 2,067; 10.  Alexis DeJoria, 2,036.

Pro Stock

  1. Jason Line, 2,233; 2.  Greg Anderson, 2,183; 3.  Vincent Nobile, 2,129; 4.  Bo Butner, 2,123; 5.  Allen Johnson, 2,095; 6.  Chris McGaha, 2,082; 7.  Shane Gray, 2,081; 8.  Drew Skillman, 2,073; 9.  Jeg Coughlin, 2,052; 10.  Erica Enders, 2,020.

Pro Stock Motorcycle

  1. Andrew Hines, 2,205; 2.  Chip Ellis, 2,161; 3.  Angelle Sampey, 2,156; 4.  Eddie Krawiec, 2,120; 5.  LE Tonglet, 2,106; 6.  Jerry Savoie, 2,099; 7.  Hector Arana Jr, 2,083; 8.  Hector Arana, 2,052; 9.  Matt Smith, 2,042; 10.  Cory Reed, 2,032.
| , RacinToday.com Sunday, September 18 2016
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