John Force outruns Courtney Force in final to capture record 16th NHRA Funny Car title.
Win at Las Vegas was 138th in a career and fourth of the season for the 64-year-old racing legend.
Chalk it up as a sweet 16 for John Force, who won his record 16th Funny Car title Sunday, beating daughter Courtney Force in the final round in the NHRA Toyota Nationals in Las Vegas.
Force, 64, has won three consecutive NHRA Funny Car events and has four wins for the season and 138 for his career. He won the final with a 4.062-second run at 310.63 mph.
Antron Brown beat Clay Millican at 3.782 and 324.51 to win the Top Fuel event, and Shane Gray topped V. Gaines with a 6.699 at 206.89 in a Chevy Camaro to win the Pro Stock event.
For John Force, it marks a record 16th NHRA Funny Car championship. The winningest driver in NHRA history has won championships with every major sponsor from Winston to Powerade to Full Throttle and now Mello Yello, capping his championship day with another NHRA national event win, No. 138, at the 13th annual Toyota NHRA Nationals. Force defeated his daughter Courtney for the first time in a final round to clinch the Mello Yello Funny Car championship.
The last time Force won three races in row was 2005, and it was the 15th time Force has achieved this feat. As the No. 1 qualifier Force had to outrun Gary Densham, Del Worsham, Alexis DeJoria and then Courtney Force in the final.
The semifinal race had the most drama for Force as DeJoria's Patron Tequila Toyota Funny Car smoked the tires and then Force's Castrol GTX Ford Mustang lost traction. Force pedaled his 10,000-hp Funny Car numerous times, sashaying down the right lane, but getting the win light with a time of 5.865 seconds.
“I didn't see her run," Force said. "She must have gone up in smoke early. As much trouble as I was in only running five seconds. I almost hit the wall twice. It was like me and Cruz [Pedregon] in 1992 except then I hit the wall three times. There I was going sideways. I was hitting it [the throttle] again and then I was off it and then I would hit it again. I am thinking she is out there. You don't want to think about it. If you look over you might drive over and she will run over you. She must have gone up on smoke bad and it took too much time to recover it. The biggest thing is she is just a great kid. What is cool is she is the future with my daughter and these young drivers."
In the final, Force and his Jimmy Prock-tuned Mustang blasted straight down the lane with a winning elapsed time of 4.062 seconds to Courtney's equally impressive 4.085 seconds in a losing effort.
“I read an article this morning about being humble, but after a day like today I would like to say it was me,” joked Force in the Las Vegas media center. “Jimmy Prock is unbelievable. The team he has around him is awesome. I used to race against his dad, Tom, who ran the Tom and Jerry Funny Car and the Detroit Tiger. He and Danny DeGennaro got the job done. Look at how those cars run side by side.
“If there is anything I have done right, it's putting together this team effort. We pulled together when it looked like we were falling apart. I have great companies with me and they allow me do this. We won them a championship. We got a Mello Yello championship but next year I am going to try and win again. We are strong with Auto Club with Robert [Hight] and Traxxas with Courtney. My luck just turned around in a year when I needed it to sell corporate America. I remember Dale Earnhardt used to say 'I'll do the winning and you marketing guys sell me.' I never had the nerve to say that, but that guy was a winner so he could do it. I have had luck on my side the last three races.”
Brown, the defending world champion in Top Fuel, moved to second in the points standings by powering his Matco Tools dragster to a run of 3.782 at 324.51 in the final round against Millican, who went 3.822 at 322.50 in his Parts Plus dragster. Brown claimed his fourth victory this season and 25th in his career, and trails points leader Shawn Langdon by 102 points heading into the final event.
“We struggled in the middle of this year, but what I'm proud of the most is the way we just kept our heads down and never gave up,” Brown said. “We just put our head down and worked harder. We just kept on digging.”
Langdon, who was the No. 1 qualifier, lost to Millican in the semifinals but still holds a commanding lead in the points race in his Al-Anabi Racing dragster. Brown, who beat Bob Vandergriff, Tony Schumacher and Brandon Bernstein to reach the final round, knows it will take something special at the final event in Pomona to earn a second straight championship.
“It's not over until it's over,” Brown said. “We're going to give it everything we've got. We're going to try and go for those qualifying points and qualify in the top half. Our team knows that we've been losing some crucial qualifying points, and in Pomona that's what we've got to go for, and we've got to take it one round at a time and give it everything we've got.”
Pro Stock's Gray picked up his first win in more than two years and third of his career with a holeshot victory against V. Gaines. Gray, who moved to fourth in points, posted a winning time of 6.699 at 206.89 in his Gray Motorsports Chevy Camaro, and his quicker .032 reaction time overcame Gaines in his quicker but losing Kendall Oil Dodge Avenger, which finished in 6.698 at 207.46.
“The team needed a day like this,” Gray said. “I got a big boost of confidence today, and it's amazing what winning will do. It lets you know that you are still capable of doing this, and anytime you can win a round on a holeshot I think you've done something special.”
Jeg Coughlin extended his points lead in Pro Stock by advancing to the semifinals before falling to Gaines. He now holds a 71-point lead over second-place Jason Line. Mike Edwards is 80 points back in third, while Gray trails Coughlin by 84 points.
The season-ending Auto-Plus NHRA Nationals is next week in Pomona, Calif.