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Courtney Is The Most Forceful In Virginia

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, June 11 2018

Daughter Courtney Force topped father John Force in the Funny Car finals in Virginia on Sunday. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Harold Hinson)

By John Sturbin | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

Courtney Force ran the table by every metric, and prevailed in a very memorable all-family final against father John Force, to capture the Funny Car championship of the inaugural Virginia NHRA Nationals Sunday at Virginia Motorsports Park.

The No. 1 qualifier, Courtney ran low E.T., top speed and won the race at the facility in Dinwiddie, Va. And in what was the 50th all-John Force Racing Funny Car final, Courtney outraced her father with a 1,000-foot pass in 4.039-seconds at 321.96 mph to John’s 4.076-second pass at 307.65 mph.

“This was a great job by my team,” said Courtney, the class point-leader who scored her fourth win of the season in her Advance Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro SS. “It was exciting to be in an all-Force final. They have a good thing going over there. They had me nervous when I rolled up for the final round. We had a great side-by-side race. (Crew chiefs) Brian Corradi and Danny Hood have done a great job with this team and race car.”

Courtney eliminated Jeff Diehl, Jim Campbell and J.R. Todd to set up the final against her father, the 16-time world champion. 

After watching “Brute” Force race for years, Courtney is well-versed in his ways.

“My dad has his routine and I’ve grown up watching that routine,” Courtney said. “I prepared myself that it was going to be a long (Christmas) tree and I just tried to play his game and not let it screw with me. He still made me wait but that’s OK because we had a car for him.”

It has been 10 years since the NHRA raced at Virginia Motorsports Park, but Courtney recalled a sweet memory from the track. All she wanted for her seventh birthday was to go to a drag race with her dad, and she got that wish.

“It was this racetrack,” said Courtney, a 29-year-old resident of Yorba Linda, Calif. “We got to celebrate in the winner’s circle and I was wearing a “Virginia Is For Lovers” t-shirt. I’m excited to wear that shirt in the winner’s circle today for my win. Dad was talking about ‘dancing in a bar’ and that’s because he took me to a bar to celebrate his win. I was playing “Ace of Base” on repeat on the juke box and I was dancing beside the juke box. That’s the real story.

“I think it was surreal to come to this very track with him again and race him in the final round. That was pretty cool. I don’t think I could have written a better story. I was going to be excited whether he got the win or I did. There were so many fans here it was amazing. That says a lot about the Franklin family who run this track. It was sold-out yesterday and I bet it was sold out today.”

The win was the 12th of Courtney’s seven-year career _ one-third of them in a 2018 season that is not even half over. Force has recorded each of her 2018 victories from pole position, a feat last done 16 years ago by none other than John Force.

“This is just the beginning of the season and we just have to maintain our focus,” Courtney said. “So much credit goes to my team and the job they’ve done. I’m trying to keep up with them and perform well as a driver.”

John Force defeated Tommy Johnson Jr., two-time world champion Cruz Pedregon and Tim Wilkerson to reach the final. In Round 2, Force recorded an 0.073-second reaction time and crossed the finish line at 4.096-seconds and 317.64 mph to easily outrun “The Cruzer’s” 4.534-second pass at 196.47 mph.

“I was cheating the line up there. I’m not that good,” said Force, referring to his reaction time in his Camaro SS. “I love racing ol’ Cruz. He’s been going through what I have been with all these explosions. I’m really sorry to see that. He’s a good man. It’s great to be back in Richmond. I love racing with my family and all our race cars. That’s all I got.

“I have a real fast hot rod now. I’ve struggled but my boys with the PEAK team are ready for the fight. We were ready for that final round against Courtney.” His race against Courtney marked John’s 250th final-round appearance. With his runnerup result, Force moved into eighth in the point standings, jumping up from 11th.

“Any time you can win, that’s a good day,” Force said. “My team is coming around. I’m really proud of this team led by Jon Schaffer and Ronnie Thompson. I’ve been spending time with my team all day and they give me energy. We’re battling and I’m still in the fight.”

Torrence powered to the Top Fuel win with a 1,000-foot run of 3.812-seconds at 322.96 mph in his dragster to defeat Doug Kalitta in the final. The class point-leader, Torrence notched his fourth victory of the season and 20th of his career in his 200th race as a Top Fuel competitor.

“We didn’t qualify exactly where we wanted to, but at the end of the day we were in the right spot to win the race so I was proud of my team,” said Torrence, a 35-year-old resident of Kilgore, Texas. “This is one of the best racetracks I’ve ever been down because it’s so smooth. I really enjoyed coming back here where my Top Fuel career started.” Torrence made his Top Fuel debut at the facility near Richmond, Va., in 2006, when he appeared in three national events.

Torrence, who qualified sixth, defeated Scott Palmer, Terry McMillen and three-time world champion Antron Brown of Don Schumacher Racing en route to victory.

Kalitta, driver of the dragster fielded by Kalitta Motorsports, secured his second runnerup result of the season and first since zMAX Dragway in Concord, N.C., on April 29.

Gray trailered two-time Pro Stock world champion Erica Enders with a quarter-mile pass of 6.595-seconds at 208.81 mph for his second victory of the season and seventh of his career.

“Every time we match-up with Erica it makes for some good racing. It’s a lot of fun getting to race the two-time champion,” said Gray, driver of the Gray Motorsports Camaro SS. “It means a lot to get a win in my first time at the track here in Virginia, especially since it isn’t far from my home.”

Gray, a 20-year-old resident of Mooresville, N.C., defeated Kenny Delco, Vincent Nobile and Drew Skillman to reach the final.

Enders now has three runnerup finishes this season to go with one win, and her four final-round appearances are the most in the “Factory Hot Rod” class in 2018.

Tonglet earned his first victory of the season in Pro Stock Motorcycle, covering the quarter-mile in 6.841-seconds at 196.76 mph aboard his Nitro Fish Racing Suzuki to down point-leader Andrew Hines and his Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Street Rod.

“Getting this win was huge, especially going against a Harley-Davidson bike because we know they’re always going to be tough to beat,” said Tonglet, a 28-year-old resident of Metairie, La. “Our bike is just flying and is fun to ride right now.”

The 2010 world champion, Tonglet qualified fifth and went on to beat John Hall, four-time/reigning world champion Eddie Krawiec and No. 1 qualifier Hector Arana Jr. to notch the win.

Hines, a five-time world champ, has three runnerup appearances in pursuit of his first win of 2018.

The season continues at Bristol Dragway in Bristol, Tenn., from June 15-17.

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Final finishing order (1-16) at the inaugural Virginia NHRA Nationals at Virginia Motorsports Park in Dinwiddie, Va. The race was the 10th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series:

Top Fuel _ 1. Steve Torrence; 2. Doug Kalitta; 3. Antron Brown; 4. Richie Crampton; 5. Terry McMillen; 6. Tony Schumacher; 7. Leah Pritchett; 8. Bill Litton; 9. Dom Lagana; 10. Scott Palmer; 11. Dan Mercier; 12. Terry Haddock; 13. Mike Salinas; 14. Brittany Force; 15. Clay Millican.

Funny Car _ 1. Courtney Force; 2. John Force; 3. J.R. Todd; 4. Tim Wilkerson; 5. Cruz Pedregon; 6. Jim Campbell; 7. Del Worsham; 8. Jonnie Lindberg; 9. Ron Capps; 10. Tommy Johnson Jr.; 11. Matt Hagan; 12. Robert Hight; 13. Shawn Langdon; 14. Jack Beckman; 15. Jeff Diehl; 16. Bob Tasca III. 

Pro Stock _ 1. Tanner Gray; 2. Erica Enders; 3. Chris McGaha; 4. Drew Skillman; 5. Vincent Nobile; 6. Greg Anderson; 7. Jeg Coughlin Jr.; 8. Bo Butner; 9. Alex Laughlin; 10. Val Smeland; 11. Buddy Perkinson; 12. John Gaydosh Jr.; 13. Kenny Delco; 14. Wally Stroupe; 15. Jason Line; 16. Tommy Lee. 

Pro Stock Motorcycle _ 1. LE Tonglet; 2. Andrew Hines; 3. Matt Smith; 4. Hector Arana Jr.; 5. Eddie Krawiec; 6. Jerry Savoie; 7. Scotty Pollacheck; 8. Angie Smith; 9. Steve Johnson; 10. Hector Arana; 11. Joey Gladstone; 12. John Hall; 13. Mark Paquette; 14. Jim Underdahl; 15. Cory Reed; 16. Kelly Clontz. 

Sunday’s final results from the Virginia NHRA Nationals at Virginia Motorsports Park: 

Top Fuel _ Steve Torrence, 3.812-seconds, 322.96 mph def. Doug Kalitta, 3.844-seconds, 309.56 mph. 

Funny Car _ Courtney Force, Chevy Camaro, 4.039, 321.96 def. John Force, Camaro, 4.076, 307.65. 

Pro Stock _ Tanner Gray, Chevy Camaro, 6.595, 208.81 def. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.628, 208.46. 

Pro Stock Motorcycle _ LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.841, 196.76 def. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.848, 196.22. 

Pro Modified _ Mike Janis, Chevy Camaro, 5.821, 246.26 def. Mike Castellana, Camaro, 6.002, 246.93. 

Super Stock _ Joe Tysinger, Pontiac Firebird, 10.590, 125.68 def. Joe Lisa, Chevy Camaro, 10.335, 129.42. 

Stock Eliminator _ Randy Parker, Dodge Mirada, 12.163, 79.60 def. Eugene Monahan, Pontiac Firebird, Broke. 

Super Comp — Jeg Coughlin Jr., Dragster, 8.894, 170.11 def. Rich Dorr, Dragster, Foul/Red Light. 

Super Gas _ Charlie Kenopic, Chevy Corvette, 9.893, 156.21 def. Mike Sawyer, Corvette, 9.893, 171.05. 

Final round-by-round results from the Virginia NHRA Nationals at Virginia Motorsports Park:

TOP FUEL

ROUND ONE _ Richie Crampton, 3.879, 317.19 def. Dom Lagana, 3.880, 322.27; Steve Torrence, 3.818, 325.85 def. Scott Palmer, 3.905, 321.96; Terry McMillen, 3.942, 302.96 def. Terry Haddock, 4.111, 289.32; Tony Schumacher, 3.825, 323.74 was unopposed; Bill Litton, 4.026, 257.53 def. Brittany Force, 5.273, 147.34; Doug Kalitta, 3.932, 299.60 def. Dan Mercier, 3.979, 304.74; Leah Pritchett, 4.630, 187.94 def. Clay Millican, Foul/Red Light; Antron Brown, 3.869, 321.96 def. Mike Salinas, 4.321, 238.22; 

QUARTERFINALS _ Kalitta, 3.817, 323.89 def. Pritchett, 4.023, 247.02; Brown, 3.865, 321.04 def. Litton, 4.709, 172.19; Torrence, 3.799, 321.19 def. McMillen, 3.796, 321.73; Crampton, 3.805, 316.01 def. Schumacher, 3.823, 315.93; 

SEMIFINALS _ Kalitta, 4.009, 274.94 def. Crampton, 5.866, 136.06; Torrence, 3.875, 320.36 def. Brown, Foul/Red Light; 

FINAL _ Torrence, 3.812, 322.96 def. Kalitta, 3.844, 309.56. 

FUNNY CAR 

ROUND ONE _ Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 4.130, 303.43 def. Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 4.152, 280.43; Courtney Force, Chevy Camaro, 4.208, 245.05 def. Jeff Diehl, Toyota Solara, 6.723, 97.46; Cruz Pedregon, Toyota Camry, 4.254, 261.67 def. Robert Hight, Camaro, 4.314, 233.20; J.R. Todd, Camry, 4.428, 216.79 def. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 10.211, 78.20; Del Worsham, Camry, 4.828, 228.46 def. Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.972, 199.94; Jonnie Lindberg, Mustang, 4.095, 310.77 def. Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.251, 245.72; John Force, Camaro, 4.141, 308.78 def. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.233, 272.06; Jim Campbell, Charger, 4.210, 301.40 def. Shawn Langdon, Camry, 4.461, 230.02; 

QUARTERFINALS _ C. Force, 3.972, 325.45 def. Campbell, 5.591, 129.92; Wilkerson, 4.014, 298.14 def. Lindberg, Broke; Todd, 4.074, 317.87 def. Worsham, 7.564, 106.24; J. Force, 4.096, 317.64 def. Pedregon, 4.534, 196.47; 

SEMIFINALS _ J. Force, 4.077, 316.97 def. Wilkerson, 4.623, 201.70; C. Force, 4.067, 310.84 def. Todd, 4.115, 302.28; 

FINAL _ C. Force, 4.039, 321.96 def. J. Force, 4.076, 307.65.

PRO STOCK 

ROUND ONE _ Drew Skillman, Chevy Camaro, 6.633, 209.39 def. Jason Line, Camaro, 12.854, 67.94; Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.666, 208.97 def. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.633, 207.50; Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.633, 209.33 def. Buddy Perkinson, Camaro, 6.692, 208.71; Tanner Gray, Camaro, 6.632, 209.07 def. Kenny Delco, Camaro, 6.824, 178.73; Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.626, 208.07 def. Val Smeland, Camaro, 6.690, 206.76; Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.639, 208.46 def. Wally Stroupe, Camaro, 8.583, 107.67; Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.614, 209.20 def. Tommy Lee, Camaro, Foul/Red Light; Jeg Coughlin Jr., Camaro, 6.612, 208.14 def. John Gaydosh Jr., Camaro, 6.763, 205.54; 

QUARTERFINALS _ Enders, 6.785, 163.29 def. Butner, 16.604, 49.93; Gray, 6.597, 209.43 def. Nobile, 6.624, 208.97; Skillman, 6.617, 209.07 def. Anderson, 6.625, 208.84; McGaha, 6.609, 209.01 def. Coughlin, 6.663, 208.46;

SEMIFINALS _ Enders, 6.630, 208.07 def. McGaha, 6.642, 208.88; Gray, 6.635, 208.65 def. Skillman, 33.519, 20.85; 

FINAL _ Gray, 6.595, 208.81 def. Enders, 6.628, 208.46. 

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE

ROUND ONE _ Angie Smith, Buell, 6.900, 193.90 def. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.948, 193.52; Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.881, 194.63 def. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 6.980, 193.16; LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.886, 195.08 def. John Hall, Buell, 6.956, 191.97; Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.935, 195.28 def. Mark Paquette, Buell, Foul/Red Light; Hector Arana Jr., Buell, 6.867, 198.09 def. Kelly Clontz, Suzuki, 7.013, 192.63; Matt Smith, Victory, 6.874, 195.51 def. Cory Reed, Buell, 6.982, 191.65; Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.885, 195.19 def. Hector Arana, Buell, 6.950, 194.52; Scotty Pollacheck, Suzuki, 6.936, 191.43 def. Joey Gladstone, Suzuki, 6.955, 191.62; 

QUARTERFINALS _ Tonglet, 6.871, 195.45 def. Krawiec, 6.875, 194.94; Hines, 6.859, 195.08 def. Pollacheck, 6.933, 193.02; M. Smith, 6.888, 194.86 def. Savoie, 6.927, 192.33; Arana Jr., 6.849, 197.65 def. A. Smith, 12.571, 64.41; 

SEMIFINALS _ Hines, 6.926, 195.48 def. M. Smith, Foul/Red Light; Tonglet, 6.840, 196.96 def. Arana Jr., 6.976, 196.59; 

FINAL _ Tonglet, 6.841, 196.76 def. Hines, 6.848, 196.22.

Point standings (top-10) following the Virginia NHRA Nationals at Virginia Motorsports Park: 

Top Fuel _1. Steve Torrence, 827; 2. Clay Millican, 719; 3. Doug Kalitta, 665; 4. Tony Schumacher, 641; 5. Leah Pritchett, 639; 6. Antron Brown, 530; 7. Terry McMillen, 521; 8. Brittany Force, 518; 9. Richie Crampton, 387; 10. Scott Palmer, 383.

Funny Car _1. Courtney Force, 856; 2. Jack Beckman, 683; 3. Robert Hight, 665; 4. Matt Hagan, 633; 5. J.R. Todd, 615; 6. Ron Capps, 576; 7. Tommy Johnson Jr., 554; 8. John Force, 468; 9. Shawn Langdon, 461; 10. Cruz Pedregon, 454.

Pro Stock _1. Greg Anderson, 720; 2. Vincent Nobile, 703; 3. Tanner Gray, 693; 4. Erica Enders, 686; 5. Bo Butner, 610; 6. Chris McGaha, 605; 7. Drew Skillman, 601; 8. Deric Kramer, 592; 9. Jeg Coughlin Jr., 546; 10. Jason Line, 532.

Pro Stock Motorcycle_1. Andrew Hines, 454; 2. Eddie Krawiec, 401; 3. LE Tonglet, 367; 4. Scotty Pollacheck, 332; 5. Hector Arana Jr., 317; 6. Matt Smith, 314; 7. Jerry Savoie, 294; 8. Hector Arana, 223; 9. Cory Reed, 204; 10. Angie Smith, 200.

Mike Janis secured his fifth career victory Sunday during the E3 Spark Plugs NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series portion of the inaugural Virginia NHRA Nationals at Virginia Motorsports Park. The weekend’s Pro Mod racing, presented by the Real Pro Mod Association, was the fifth of 12 events this season.

Janis used a 5.821-second quarter-mile pass at 246.26 mph in his AAP/Mike Janis Superchargers ‘69 Chevrolet Camaro to defeat Mike Castellana in the final. Castellana ran 6.002-seconds at 246.93 mph in his Camaro.

“Coming into this race it had been so long since we were in the winner’s circle, but we had a solid car all weekend and we put it all together today,” Janis said. “We feel really good going into Bristol as we start off this three-in-a-row stretch.”

The victory moved Janis past Rickie Smith into the Pro Mod point lead, while Castellana now sits fifth.

The Pro Mod series will next compete at Bristol Dragway in Bristol, Tenn., June 15-17.

Final finishing order (1-16) in the Virginia NHRA Nationals at Virginia Motorsports Park:

Pro Modified _1. Mike Janis; 2. Mike Castellana; 3. Jose Gonzalez; 4. Danny Rowe; 5. Steve Jackson; 6. Chad Green; 7. Dan Stevenson; 8. Steve Matusek; 9. Khalid alBalooshi; 10. Rick Hord; 11. Sidnei Frigo; 12. Bob Rahaim; 13. Pete Farber; 14. Steven Whiteley; 15. Rickie Smith; 16. Jeremy Ray.

Final round-by-round results from the Virginia NHRA Nationals at Virginia Motorsports Park:

PRO MODIFIED

ROUND ONE _ Mike Castellana, Chevy Camaro, 5.780, 251.81 def. Rick Hord, Chevy Corvette, 5.795, 253.47; Jose Gonzalez, Camaro, 5.770, 254.47 def. Khalid alBalooshi, Camaro, 5.770, 250.51; Steve Jackson, Camaro, 5.817, 248.71 def. Bob Rahaim, Camaro, 5.859, 248.57; Steve Matusek, Camaro, 5.838, 235.89 def. Jeremy Ray, Corvette, 6.024, 241.93; Mike Janis, Camaro, 5.795, 245.85 def. Pete Farber, Dodge Daytona, 5.866, 244.47; Danny Rowe, Camaro, 5.781, 250.55 def. Sidnei Frigo, Corvette, 5.819, 252.38; Dan Stevenson, Camaro, 5.816, 252.24 def. Steven Whiteley, Camaro, 5.892, 249.76; Chad Green, Camaro, 10.388, 86.17 def. Rickie Smith, Camaro, Foul/Red Light;

QUARTERFINALS _ Janis, 5.808, 246.21 def. Green, 5.894, 246.39; Rowe, 5.843, 246.12 def. Jackson, 5.867, 246.66; Castellana, 5.833, 250.23 def. Matusek, 9.693, 70.69; Gonzalez, 5.801, 253.90 def. Stevenson, 6.686, 158.91;

SEMIFINALS _ Janis, No Time Recorded def. Rowe, Broke/No Show; Castellana, 5.838, 248.52 def. Gonzalez, Foul /Red Light;

FINAL _ Janis, 5.821, 246.26 def. Castellana, 6.002, 246.93.

Point standings (top-10) following the Virginia NHRA Nationals at Virginia Motorsports Park:

Pro Modified _1. Mike Janis, 392; 2. Rickie Smith, 390; 3. Steve Jackson, 316; 4. Jose Gonzalez, 302; 5. Mike Castellana, 292; 6. Chad Green, 285; 7. Khalid alBalooshi, 232; 8. Todd Tutterow, 199; 9. Danny Rowe, 185; 10. Jim Whiteley, 183.

 

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, June 11 2018
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