Home » HEADLINE, NHRA, TOP STORIES

Brittany Force Leaves Hospital

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, February 13 2018

Reigning Top Fuel champion Brittany Force crashed big time Sunday in Pomona, Calif. She was allowed to leave the hospital on Monday.
(RacinToday/HHP file photo by Garry Eller)

Reigning Top Fuel world champion Brittany Force was released from the hospital Monday, one day after escaping serious injury in a crash during the NHRA’s season-opening race in Pomona, Calif.

A statement released by John Force Racing reported that Force, 31, showed no lingering effects from the crash with the exception of “some upper body soreness.” Force will continue to recuperate at home in Yorba Linda, Calif.

There was no immediate indication from 16-time NHRA Funny Car world champion John Force _ Brittany’s father and car-owner _ if she would return to the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series tour for Round 2 of the schedule. The NHRA Arizona Nationals will be contested at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Chandler, Ariz., outside Phoenix, in two weeks.

Force crashed in her first-round match Sunday during the prestigious NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, Calif. Force’s Monster Energy dragster went out of control during a pass that started in the racetrack’s right lane opposite veteran Terry Haddock. Force’s 11,000-horsepower car smoked the tires off the starting line and when she attempted to “pedal” it to regain traction, the car took a hard left turn and made contact with the concrete guard rails lining both sides of the track.

The sliding car slowed to an estimated 140 mph as it turned onto its right side and nearly made contact with the protective driver’s canopy with the right side wall before coming to rest upright just past the finish line. Reached within seconds by NHRA’s Safety Safari, Force was responsive and speaking with medical personnel while being removed from the wreckage. She was placed on a backboard and transported by ambulance to a local hospital for evaluation.

Initial reports Sunday indicated Force experienced some bruising of the lungs. A CT Scan was negative and an MRI showed subtle findings likely from previous injuries. She was admitted overnight for observation as a precaution.

John Force noted that Brittany’s Simpson safety gear, including her Steilo Helmet, R3 head-and-neck restraint, fire suit, neck collar and belts, kept her conscious and securely strapped into the driver’s seat. The elder Force also thanked rival team-owner Don Schumacher’s organization for developing the canopy that shields the driver’s cockpit from debris during a crash.

Meanwhile, Doug Kalitta claimed the Top Fuel Wally trophy and the championship point lead at Pomona with a 1,000-foot run of 3.779-seconds at 324.28 mph in his Mac Tools dragster while defeating eight-time world champ Tony “The Sarge” Schumacher of Don Schumacher Racing. After finishing as runnerup at the 2017 Winternationals, Kalitta won the season-opener for the second time in his career.

The nephew of drag racing legend and team-owner Conrad “Connie” Kalitta, Doug qualified fifth and took down teammate Richie Crampton, Scott Palmer and No. 1 qualifier Clay Millican en route to his 44th career win.

“To get the first win of the season and get that monkey off your back is huge,” said Kalitta, who finished third in the final standings in 2017. “It was kind of a lucky day. Our Mac Tools Toyota dragster coasted across the finish line twice, but we were still getting the win light. It was one of those crazy days and we went through a lot of parts, but we got it done.

“My guys have a lot of work to do to prepare for Phoenix. We blew up a lot of stuff. They’ll be working right up until Phoenix to get everything fresh again. But we’ll be ready. We’ll go there and see if we can qualify up-front and get another win.”

Schumacher drove his U.S. Army dragster to its first final round appearance since Atlanta Dragway last season after besting Terry McMillen, Haddock and three-time world champ and DSR teammate Antron Brown.

Only 14 Top Fuelers competed at Pomona, two short of a full 16-car ladder.

Two-time world champion Matt Hagan (Funny Car) and reigning world champ Bo Butner (Pro Stock) also emerged as winners of Sunday’s first national event on the 24-race schedule.

Brittany Force qualified second at Pomona, covering the 1,000-foot distance in 3.675-seconds at 322.04 mph on Saturday after failing to complete a full-pass during Friday’s two sessions of time trials. Ironically, Brittany clinched her first Top Fuel title at the same facility during the 2017 season-ending  Auto Club NHRA Finals on Nov. 12. She began defense of her championship Friday by affixing the No. 1 decal to the rear wing of her black dragster.

A native and resident of Yorba Linda, Calif., Brittany joined drag racing legend Shirley Muldowney as only the second woman champion in NHRA’s premier category _ and the first since 1982 _ on the strength of four wins in six final-round appearances and two pole positions in 2017.

Force’s dragster is tuned by Brian Husen, with Ronnie Thompson as assistant crew chief. Veteran tuner Alan Johnson also has returned as consultant to a team that set the national speed record of 333.67 mph in 2017.

Brittany put together an incredible run during last year’s Countdown to the Championship, winning three of six playoff races and advancing to four finals. That effort was enough to push Force past outspoken Texan Steve Torrence, who ended 2017 with a class-best eight wins but fell 81 points/four rounds short of what would have been his first championship.

Torrence finished-out the 2017 season after experiencing a crash eerily similar to Force’s during the NHRA FallNationals at Texas Motorplex in Ennis during Round 4 of the Countdown last Oct. 15.

Getting off to a quick start in 2018 was Job One for Force, who didn’t win her first race last year until the ninth event of the season. She claimed her title in her fifth full season in Top Fuel.

###

Final Top Fuel finishing order (1-14) at the 58th annual NHRA Winternationals _ 1. Doug Kalitta; 2. Tony Schumacher; 3. Antron Brown; 4. Clay Millican; 5. Scott Palmer; 6. Steve Torrence; 7. Terry Haddock; 8. Terry McMillen; 9. Richie Crampton; 10. Steven Chrisman; 11. Steve Faria; 12. Mike Salinas; 13. Leah Pritchett; 14. Brittany Force.

Final Top Fuel round-by-round results from the 58th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals:

ROUND ONE _ Tony Schumacher, 3.696, 332.18 def. Terry McMillen, 3.752, 328.06; Scott Palmer, 6.489, 117.35 def. Leah Pritchett, Broke; Clay Millican, 3.709, 332.10 def. Steven Chrisman, 4.258, 210.80; Terry Haddock, no time recorded def. Brittany Force, Foul/Centerline; Steve Torrence, 3.717, 333.00 def. Steve Faria, 4.667, 166.29; Doug Kalitta, 4.121, 217.56 def. Richie Crampton, 4.234, no speed; Antron Brown, 4.333, 183.22 def. Mike Salinas, 9.881, 82.53; 

QUARTERFINALS _ Schumacher, 3.717, 331.85 def. Haddock, 9.851, 84.16; Millican, 9.978, 74.77 was unopposed; Kalitta, 3.760, 329.18 def. Palmer, 3.832, 323.27; Brown, 3.758, 330.07 def. Torrence, Foul/Red Light; 

SEMIFINALS _ Schumacher, 3.711, 331.45 def. Brown, 3.737, 330.72; Kalitta, 3.866, 307.58 def. Millican, 4.860, 145.02;

FINAL _ Kalitta, 3.779, 324.28 def. Schumacher, 4.715, 145.93.

Point standings (top-10) following the 58th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals:

Top Fuel _ 1. Doug Kalitta, 112; 2. Tony Schumacher, 95; 3. Clay Millican, 84; 4. Antron Brown, 78; 5. Steve Torrence, 60; 6. Scott Palmer, 47; 7. Brittany Force, 35; 8. (tie) Steve Faria, 32; Leah Pritchett, 32; Mike Salinas, 32.

Funny Car _1. Matt Hagan, 127; 2. Robert Hight, 101; 3. Jack Beckman, 81; 4. Ron Capps, 78; 5. Jonnie Lindberg, 51; 6. (tie) J.R. Todd, 49; Tim Wilkerson, 49; 8. Cruz Pedregon, 48; 9. Courtney Force, 36; 10. (tie) Tommy Johnson Jr., 32, Shawn Langdon, 32, Del Worsham, 32.

Pro Stock _1. Bo Butner, 115; 2. Jason Line, 98; 3. Erica Enders, 74; 4. Deric Kramer, 73; 5.  Drew Skillman, 65; 6. Vincent Nobile, 63; 7. Greg Anderson, 61; 8. Alex Laughlin, 54; 9. Chris McGaha, 33; 10. (tie) Jeg Coughlin Jr., 32, Steve Graham, 32, Tanner Gray, 32.

 

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, February 13 2018
No Comment

Leave a comment!

Add your comment below, or trackback from your own site. You can also subscribe to these comments via RSS.

Be nice. Keep it clean. Stay on topic. No spam.

You can use these tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

This is a Gravatar-enabled weblog. To get your own globally-recognized-avatar, please register at Gravatar.