John Force raced to his 136th career victory and moved into position to earn a 16th Funny Car world championship title Sunday at the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park near St. Louis.
Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Erica Enders-Stevens (Pro Stock) and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also were winners at the 21st race of the season and third of six playoff events in the NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship.
Force powered to his second win of the season with a final-round performance of 4.097 seconds at 310.13 mph in his Castrol GTX Ford Mustang, while defending world champ Jack Beckman trailed in his Valvoline/MTS Dodge Charger with a 4.127 at 309.84.
With the victory, Force, 64, now trails series leader Matt Hagan by six points.
Force defeated rookie Chad Head, longtime rival Ron Capps and teammate Robert Hight along the way to his third win at Gateway. Hagan, the event's top qualifier who entered the day with a 63-point lead over second-place Cruz Pedregon, lost to Beckman in the second round. Pedregon also went out early with a first-round exit, which opened the door for Force to move to the top of the points order.
1. Antron Brown; 2. Khalid alBalooshi; 3. Tony Schumacher; 4. David Grubnic; 5. Morgan Lucas; 6. Shawn Langdon; 7. Clay Millican; 8. Brittany Force; 9. Doug Kalitta; 10. Bob Vandergriff; 11. Troy Buff; 12. Billy Torrence; 13. Spencer Massey; 14. Brandon Bernstein; 15. Terry McMillen; 16. Steve Torrence.
1. John Force; 2. Jack Beckman; 3. Robert Hight; 4. Del Worsham; 5. Ron Capps; 6. Matt Hagan; 7. Tim Wilkerson; 8. Courtney Force; 9. Alexis DeJoria; 10. Johnny Gray; 11. Tony Pedregon; 12. Jeff Arend; 13. Chad Head; 14. Daniel Wilkerson; 15. Cruz Pedregon; 16. Bob Tasca III.
1. Erica Enders-Stevens; 2. Mike Edwards; 3. Greg Anderson; 4. Rickie Jones; 5. Jeg Coughlin; 6. Allen Johnson; 7. Matt Hartford; 8. Shane Gray; 9. Jason Line; 10. V. Gaines; 11. Greg Stanfield; 12. Larry Morgan; 13. Buddy Perkinson; 14. Deric Kramer; 15. Steve Kent; 16. Vincent Nobile.