John Force earns 141st career Funny Car win at Seattle; Doug Kalitta (TF) and Jason Line (PS) also victorious

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It was a classic old school battle as 16-time NHRA Funny Car champion John Force held off long-time friend and former teammate Gary Densham to win in Sunday’s final round of the O’Reilly Auto Parts Northwest Nationals in Kent, Wash.

Force earned a record 141st victory of his career, covering the 1,000-foot drag strip at Pacific Raceways in a winning time of 4.173 seconds at 302.48 mph. Densham lost traction early in his run and settled for a 5.808 second effort at 120.44 mph.

It was Force’s third win of the season and his fourth straight final round appearance in the last four races, ultimately winning two of those.

What’s more, John Force Racing wound up taking all three of the races on the sport’s “Western Swing” with Robert Hight winning at Denver, Courtney Force (John’s daughter) winning last week at Sonoma and John Force winning Sunday in suburban Seattle.

“I want to win, that is what it is all about,” Force said. “But we were having so much fun down there in the staging lanes. I know you are supposed to be serious because it is race day but you are racing a friend.

“He (Densham) comes up here on a budget. Look how good he does. Steps up and races with these guys after only being out a few times all year and gets in the finals. I always say ‘If I lose to my teammates I didn’t lose,’ and if I had lost to Gary Densham I would not have lost.”

In Top Fuel, points leader Doug Kalitta (3.844 seconds at 318.84 mph) earned his second win of the season and the 35th of his career, defeating red-hot Antron Brown (3.887, 311.70 mph) in the finals.

With the win, Kalitta is now tied for fifth on the NHRA all-time Top Fuel wins list with the legendary “Big Daddy” Don Garlits.

“The competition out here is tough; it’s really something to even make it to a final,” said Kalitta, who also has six runner-up finishes thus far in 2014. “We’ve been banging on the door trying to get another win.

“Beating Antron for this one was big for us. We’ve just been trying to win rounds but Antron’s been winning a lot, too. He’s got five wins this year, so I’m glad we were able to get another one here today. We’ve got some momentum going into the next few races.”

No. 1 qualifier Tony Schumacher lost to Brown, his teammate, in the semifinals, but still managed to become the fourth Top Fuel driver thus far to clinch a berth in the upcoming NHRA Countdown to the Championship.

In Pro Stock, Jason Line (6.611 seconds at 210.67 mph) edged teammate Greg Anderson (6.608 seconds at 201.54 mph) to earn his third win of 2014.

Even with the loss, Anderson, who missed the first five races of this season recovering from off-season open heart surgery, moved into the top 10 and can still make the Countdown to the Championship between now and the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis later this month.

“It was a very good day for KB Racing,” Line said. “We got both cars to the final and Greg got in the top 10. He’s not going to look back from there. He’s got a great car.

“I was good when I needed to be today. The car wasn’t great, but it was good enough. I guess the racing gods owed me one today. It feels good to get another win. I’ve never won three races in a row though, so we’ll see what happens at Brainerd (Minnesota, Aug. 14-17).”

Pro Stock drivers Shane Gray and Vincent Nobile also earned positions in the Countdown during the event.

 

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

 

FINAL FINISHING ORDER:

TOP FUEL: 1. Doug Kalitta; 2. Antron Brown; 3. Tony Schumacher; 4. Shawn Langdon; 5. Steve Torrence; 6. Troy Buff; 7. Khalid alBalooshi; 8. Richie Crampton; 9. Brittany Force; 10. Clay Millican; 11. Spencer Massey; 12. Terry McMillen; 13. Mike Salinas; 14. J.R. Todd; 15. Bob Vandergriff; 16. Jenna Haddock.

FUNNY CAR: 1. John Force; 2. Gary Densham; 3. Alexis DeJoria; 4. Matt Hagan; 5. Cruz Pedregon; 6. Tim Wilkerson; 7. Robert Hight; 8. Jack Beckman; 9. Tommy Johnson Jr.; 10. Ron Capps; 11. Jeff Diehl; 12. Del Worsham; 13. Terry Haddock; 14. Tony Pedregon; 15. Bob Tasca III; 16. Courtney Force.

PRO STOCK: 1. Jason Line; 2. Greg Anderson; 3. Shane Gray; 4. Allen Johnson; 5. Dave Connolly; 6. Jonathan Gray; 7. V. Gaines; 8. Jeg Coughlin; 9. Chris McGaha; 10. Deric Kramer; 11. Matt Hartford; 12. Larry Morgan; 13. Vincent Nobile; 14. Mark Wolfe; 15. Travis Mazza.

 

 

FINAL RESULTS

Top Fuel — Doug Kalitta, 3.844 seconds, 318.84 mph def. Antron Brown, 3.887 seconds, 311.70 mph.

Funny Car — John Force, Ford Mustang, 4.173, 302.48 def. Gary Densham, Chevy Impala, 5.808, 120.44.

Pro Stock — Jason Line, Chevy Camaro, 6.611, 210.67 def. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.608, 210.54.

 

FINAL ROUND-BY-ROUND RESULTS

TOP FUEL:

ROUND ONE — Khalid alBalooshi, 3.809, 319.22 def. Brittany Force, 3.841, 314.31; Richie Crampton, 3.843, 317.27 def. Terry McMillen, 3.898, 316.75; Shawn Langdon, 3.787, 317.12 def. Clay Millican, 3.870, 309.77; Tony Schumacher, 3.828, 319.37 def. Jenna Haddock, 13.039, 76.94; Doug Kalitta, 3.794, 320.36 def. Mike Salinas, 4.114, 293.41; Antron Brown, 3.828, 317.79 def. Bob Vandergriff, foul; Troy Buff, 3.816, 312.78 def. Spencer Massey, 3.880, 292.39; Steve Torrence, 3.932, 310.55 def. J.R. Todd, 4.140, 211.36;

QUARTERFINALS — Brown, 3.866, 309.77 def. Crampton, 10.822, 70.61; Schumacher, 3.840, 313.88 def. Torrence, 3.909, 310.70; Kalitta, 3.864, 314.09 def. Buff, 3.996, 294.69; Langdon, 3.983, 240.89 def. alBalooshi, 3.997, 299.86;

SEMIFINALS — Kalitta, 4.032, 268.17 def. Langdon, 4.112, 262.39; Brown, 3.883, 312.13 def. Schumacher, 3.944, 295.66;

FINAL — Kalitta, 3.844, 318.84 def. Brown, 3.887, 311.70.

FUNNY CAR:

ROUND ONE — John Force, Ford Mustang, 4.102, 307.58 def. Jeff Diehl, Toyota Solara, 4.354, 282.36; Gary Densham, Chevy Impala, 4.314, 286.86 def. Courtney Force, Mustang, 6.564, 98.66; Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 4.109, 306.26 def. Terry Haddock, Impala, 4.583, 209.88; Alexis DeJoria, Toyota Camry, 4.140, 300.40 def. Tony Pedregon, Camry, 4.663, 171.23; Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.176, 295.59 def. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.164, 302.75; Robert Hight, Mustang, 4.112, 305.98 def. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 4.918, 161.23; Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.134, 302.75 def. Del Worsham, Camry, 4.457, 219.44; Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 4.109, 304.05 def. Ron Capps, Charger, 4.171, 297.02;

QUARTERFINALS — DeJoria, 4.202, 293.22 def. Beckman, 4.385, 230.45; J. Force, 4.161, 302.48 def. C. Pedregon, 4.184, 296.37; Hagan, 4.241, 278.98 def. Hight, 4.287, 263.20; Densham, 4.184, 278.46 def. Wilkerson, 4.228, 294.69;

SEMIFINALS — Densham, 4.236, 288.89 def. Hagan, 4.285, 283.67; J. Force, 4.301, 258.42 def. DeJoria, 4.252, 277.72;

FINAL — J. Force, 4.173, 302.48 def. Densham, 5.808, 120.44.

PRO STOCK:

ROUND ONE — Dave Connolly, Chevy Camaro, 6.560, 210.73 def. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.666, 209.26; Jonathan Gray, Camaro, 6.578, 210.83 def. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.605, 210.08; V. Gaines, Dodge Dart, 6.581, 210.93 def. Matt Hartford, Dodge Avenger, 6.622, 209.65; Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.556, 211.63 def. Deric Kramer, Avenger, foul; Jason Line, Camaro, 6.555, 211.16 def. Mark Wolfe, Ford Mustang, 6.810, 205.94; Allen Johnson, Dart, 6.546, 211.30 was unopposed; Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.544, 211.43 def. Travis Mazza, Mustang, 7.543, 133.88; Jeg Coughlin, Dart, 6.565, 210.67 def. Larry Morgan, Mustang, 6.646, 208.17;

QUARTERFINALS — Anderson, 6.571, 211.30 def. Coughlin, 12.185, 54.52; Line, 6.579, 210.73 def. Gaines, 6.593, 210.77; Johnson, 6.569, 210.87 def. Connolly, 6.589, 210.28; S. Gray, 6.574, 210.87 def. J. Gray, 6.591, 210.24;

SEMIFINALS — Line, 6.606, 210.24 def. S. Gray, 6.625, 210.05; Anderson, 6.586, 210.90 def. Johnson, 16.159, 51.08;

FINAL — Line, 6.611, 210.67 def. Anderson, 6.608, 210.54.

 

UPDATED POINTS STANDINGS (* means have qualified for Countdown to the Championship)

Top Fuel: 1. Doug Kalitta, 1,345*; 2. Antron Brown, 1,269*; 3. Shawn Langdon, 1,146*; 4. Tony Schumacher, 999*; 5. Steve Torrence, 920; 6. Spencer Massey, 895; 7. Brittany Force, 856; 8. Khalid alBalooshi, 855; 9. Richie Crampton, 808; 10. J.R. Todd, 774.

Funny Car: 1. Robert Hight, 1,271*; 2. John Force, 1,224*; 3. Ron Capps, 989; 4. Courtney Force, 980; 5. Tommy Johnson Jr., 975; 6. Alexis DeJoria, 961; 7. Matt Hagan, 949; 8. Cruz Pedregon, 894; 9. Del Worsham, 848; 10. Tim Wilkerson, 815.

Pro Stock: 1. Erica Enders-Stevens, 1,229*; 2. Allen Johnson, 1,197*; 3. Jason Line, 1,192*; 4. Jeg Coughlin, 1,128*; 5. Dave Connolly, 1,075*; 6. Shane Gray, 1,015*; 7. Vincent Nobile, 959*; 8. V. Gaines, 742; 9. Chris McGaha, 718; 10. Greg Anderson, 647.

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Michael Andretti looking forward to new Australian Supercars venture

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If it seems like Michael Andretti is out to conquer the world, he is – kind of.

The former IndyCar star turned prolific team owner has won three of the last four Indianapolis 500s and five overall, second only to Roger Penske’s 16 Indy 500 triumphs.

Along the way, in addition to expanding his own IndyCar and Indy Lights operation, the son of Mario Andretti and the primary shareholder of Andretti Autosport has also branched out into Global RallyCross and Formula E racing in recent years.

And now, Andretti has further expanded his brand internationally, following Penske to the world down under — as in the world of Australian V8 Supercars.

Andretti has teamed with Supercars team owner Ryan Walkinshaw, along with veteran motorsports marketer and executive director of McLaren Technology Group and United Autosports owner and chairman, Zak Brown.

Together, the three have formed Walkinshaw Andretti United, based in suburban Melbourne, Australia. The new team kicks off the new season with the Adelaide 500 from March 1-4.

“It’s just extending our brand and putting it out there,” Andretti told NBC Sports. “The Supercars are such a great series.

“It all started with Zach Brown calling me and said ‘You have to talk to Ryan Walkinshaw. He’s got something interesting to talk to you about.’

“We talked and literally in like a half-hour, we said, ‘Let’s figure out how we’re going to make this work.’ And then Zack was like, ‘Hey, what about me?’ And then Zack came in as a partner and it’s cool now that we have the Walkinshaw Andretti United team.

“I’m really excited about that program, the guys at the shop are excited about it, we’ve been doing a lot of things to try and help it because it’s such a cool series and the cars are so cool.

“I went down there to Bathurst, which was to me one of the coolest tracks in the world. I wish I could have driven it, I really do. It looks like a blast.

“It’s amazing how big that series is when you go down there. It’s one of the biggest sports in Australia. It was just a great opportunity for us to extend our portfolio.”

Admittedly, Andretti had some extra incentive to want to get involved in the Supercars world: Penske joined forces with legendary Dick Johnson Racing in September 2014.

The organization came together quickly and the rebranded DJR Team Penske went on to win the 2017 V8 Supercars championship.

“Roger was down there the last few years,” Andretti said, adding that fact as incentive to get his own organization into the series. “So it’s cool to go race head-to-head with Roger. That was also in the back of our minds.”

This is no start-up venture for Andretti. The roots of the new venture began in 1990 as the Holden Racing Team, which went on to become one of the most successful organizations in Australian V8 Supercar racing, having won the drivers’ championship six times and the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship’s top race, the Bathurst 1000 (essentially Australia’s version of the Indy 500), seven times.

Last season, Holden Racing team morphed into Triple Eight Race Engineering and was renamed Mobil 1 HSV Racing.

And now the company has been renamed once again for the 2018 campaign under the Walkinshaw Andretti United banner.

The team will be composed of two Holden ZB Commodores with drivers James Courtney and Scott Pye, as well as a Porsche 911 GT3-R in the Australian GT championship.

What’s next for Andretti’s motorsports portfolio? Right now, it’s pretty full, but you can bet running for championships from Australia (Supercars) to globally (GRC) to Indianapolis (Indy 500) to the U.S. (Verizon IndyCar Series) are at the top of this year’s list.