NHRA: John Force, Schumacher, Gray, Krawiec chomp down Gatornationals wins

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You might say John Force, Tony Schumacher, Shane Gray and Eddie Krawiec were chomping at the bit coming into this weekend’s NHRA national event in Gainesville, Florida.

Maybe it was the race’s name – the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals. But whatever the reason, the four drivers bit off all they could chew and then some, with each earning their first wins of the 2017 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season.

A record 16-time Funny Car champion, the seemingly ageless Force (for the record, he turns 68 in May) extended his streak as the NHRA’s winningest driver, earning the 148th national event win of his career.

Force (3.928 seconds at 328.14 mph) defeated Jonnie Lindberg (3.971 at 314.83) in Sunday’s Funny Car final round to capture the victory – his eighth career Gatornationals win.

“I found myself,” Force said. “A lot of things are about heart, and about luck. You always feel somebody up there likes you.

“I believe hard work, dedication and what we went though, it’s been a draining day. I’m not accepting that I’m done. I’ve been real lucky.”

In addition to the event win, Force’s final round triumph was the 2,500th Funny Car round-win for John Force Racing.

In Top Fuel, Tony Schumacher, an eight-time national champion, extended his own mark as winningest driver in Top Fuel history, earning the 83rd win of his career.

Schumacher (3.703 seconds, 329.26 mph) defeated Don Schumacher Racing teammate and two-time defending (and three times in the last five seasons) Top Fuel champ Antron Brown (3.764 seconds at 322.65 mph).

It was also Schumacher’s fifth career Gatornationals Top Fuel, both an event and Gainesville Raceway track record.

“We have great, great people working together. I’m loving driving the car,” Schumacher said in a media release. “We’re in the fight every day, every race.”

This weekend marked the third race of the 24-race 2017 campaign. Leah Pritchett won the first two races (Pomona, California and Phoenix), but DSR teammate Schumacher is ready to have his time in the spotlight now.

“It’s going to be a fun year, man,” Schumacher said. “I’m comfortable driving the car. It’s running right down the middle. It’s running extremely fast. It doesn’t have any part on the race track where I feel that I’m in danger. It’s doing everything that a driver dreams about sitting in a Top Fuel car.”

In Pro Stock, Gray (6.535 seconds at 212.96 mph) earned his sixth career win, defeating Greg Anderson (6.560 at 213.43).

“I wasn’t supposed to win,” Gray said. “When you’re testing parts you’re just not supposed to win which is basically what we’re doing with my car.

“We had a lucky day today. There were some round wins when the car pulled me out of the hole and there were a couple rounds where I pulled the car out of the hole. It was a complete team effort today.”

In Pro Stock Motorcycle, three-time champ Krawiec just barely missed breaking the 200 mph barrier (6.763 seconds at 199.76 mph), defeating teammate and fellow Harley Davidson rider Andrew Hines (6.802, 197.10).

It was Krawiec’s 37th career PSM win and fifth in the Gatornationals.

It also was the first race of PSM’s 16-race season.

“This helps set the pace for the year,” Krawiec said. “Get that first win off your back, keep that momentum rolling, get the points.

“You know once you win one or two races you kind of solidify your spot. With the extra competitive class we have this year it definitely helps.

“There’s a lot of great motorcycles. My Harley-Davidson this weekend really has been really fast, we just haven’t been able to harness that power and get it sorted out. I think as the year goes on we’re going to get better.”

The NHRA’s next national event is in two weeks (March 31-April 2) at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

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FINAL FINISHING ORDER

TOP FUEL: 1.  Tony Schumacher; 2.  Antron Brown; 3.  Doug Kalitta; 4.  Steve Torrence; 5.  Leah Pritchett; 6.  Clay Millican; 7.  Brittany Force; 8.  Troy Coughlin Jr.; 9.  Ike Maier; 10.  Chris Karamesines; 11.  Terry McMillen; 12.  Shawn Reed; 13.  Smax Smith; 14.  Pat Dakin; 15.  Scott Palmer; 16.  Larry Dixon.

FUNNY CAR: 1.  John Force; 2.  Jonnie Lindberg; 3.  Matt Hagan; 4.  Tommy Johnson Jr.; 5.  Robert Hight; 6.  Jack Beckman; 7.  Jim Campbell; 8.  Ron Capps; 9.  Tim Wilkerson; 10.  Alexis DeJoria; 11.  Bob Tasca III; 12.  Dave Richards; 13.  Courtney Force; 14.  J.R. Todd; 15.  Del Worsham; 16.  Cruz Pedregon.

PRO STOCK: 1.  Shane Gray; 2.  Greg Anderson; 3.  Jason Line; 4.  Chris McGaha; 5.  Bo Butner; 6.  Jeg Coughlin; 7.  Erica Enders; 8.  Tanner Gray; 9.  Vincent Nobile; 10.  Drew Skillman; 11.  Matt Hartford; 12.  Allen Johnson; 13.  Alan Prusiensky; 14.  Kenny Delco; 15.  John Gaydosh Jr.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: 1.  Eddie Krawiec; 2.  Andrew Hines; 3.  Joey Gladstone; 4.  Steve Johnson; 5.  Jerry Savoie; 6.  LE Tonglet; 7.  Scotty Pollacheck; 8.  Matt Smith; 9.  Hector Arana; 10.  Cory Reed; 11.  Angie Smith; 12.  Melissa Surber; 13.  Mike Berry; 14.  Angelle Sampey; 15.  Karen Stoffer; 16.  Hector Arana Jr.

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FINAL RESULTS

TOP FUEL: Tony Schumacher, 3.703 seconds, 329.26 mph  def. Antron Brown, 3.764 seconds, 322.65 mph.

FUNNY CAR: John Force, Chevy Camaro, 3.928, 328.14  def. Jonnie Lindberg, Toyota Camry, 3.971, 314.83.

PRO STOCK: Shane Gray, Chevy Camaro, 6.535, 212.96  def. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.560, 213.43.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.763, 199.76  def. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.802, 197.10.

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FINAL ROUND-BY-ROUND RESULTS

TOP FUEL:

ROUND ONE — Clay Millican, 3.741, 315.42 def. Terry McMillen, 5.345, 135.21; Leah Pritchett, 3.716, 323.12 def. Scott Palmer, Broke; Brittany Force, 3.716, 328.54 def. Larry Dixon, Broke; Tony Schumacher, 3.724, 321.27 def. Smax Smith, Foul – Red Light; Doug Kalitta, 3.706, 328.70 def. Ike Maier, 3.929, 289.69; Antron Brown, 3.711, 327.98 def. Chris Karamesines, 4.157, 231.00; Steve Torrence, 3.740, 325.22 def. Shawn Reed, 5.467, 120.80; Troy Coughlin Jr., 3.724, 322.42 def. Pat Dakin, Foul – Red Light;

QUARTERFINALS — Schumacher, 3.751, 326.24 def. Millican, 3.776, 322.42; Torrence, 3.759, 325.77 def. Force, 6.507, 90.02; Brown, 3.787, 321.42 def. Coughlin Jr., Foul – Outer Boundary; Kalitta, 3.754, 325.14 def. Pritchett, 3.738, 323.97;

SEMIFINALS — Brown, 3.719, 326.24 def. Kalitta, 3.738, 327.03; Schumacher, 3.715, 326.40 def. Torrence, 4.069, 266.64;

FINAL — Schumacher, 3.703, 329.26 def. Brown, 3.764, 322.65.

FUNNY CAR:

ROUND ONE — Tommy Johnson Jr., Dodge Charger, 3.863, 328.46 def. Cruz Pedregon, Toyota Camry, 12.342, 71.13; Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 3.828, 334.82 def. Bob Tasca III, Ford Mustang, 3.967, 321.04; John Force, Camaro, 3.881, 331.45 def. Del Worsham, Camry, 10.453, 77.20; Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.898, 331.94 def. Dave Richards, Mustang, 4.054, 287.05; Jim Campbell, Charger, 4.370, 209.26 def. Courtney Force, Camaro, 6.531, 104.87; Ron Capps, Charger, 3.895, 330.96 def. Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 3.925, 328.46; Jonnie Lindberg, Camry, 4.735, 187.05 def. J.R. Todd, Camry, 10.000, 74.70; Jack Beckman, Charger, 3.899, 329.83 def. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 3.906, 327.66;

QUARTERFINALS — Johnson Jr., 6.019, 177.37 def. Campbell, 8.841, 109.74; Lindberg, 3.980, 322.19 def. Hight, 7.776, 89.83; J. Force, 3.916, 328.14 def. Beckman, 8.835, 82.48; Hagan,  def. Capps, Foul – Centerline;

SEMIFINALS — Lindberg, 3.948, 324.98 def. Hagan, 4.300, 244.69; J. Force, 3.955, 324.05 def. Johnson Jr., 5.544, 134.32;

FINAL — J. Force, 3.928, 328.14 def. Lindberg, 3.971, 314.83.

PRO STOCK:

ROUND ONE — Tanner Gray, Chevy Camaro, 6.558, 213.06 def. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.539, 212.93; Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.529, 212.46 def. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.523, 212.79; Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.526, 211.73 def. Allen Johnson, Dodge Dart, 6.557, 211.93; Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.502, 213.91 def. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.551, 211.96; Jeg Coughlin, Camaro, 6.521, 213.33 def. Kenny Delco, Camaro, 6.584, 208.84; Jason Line, Camaro, 6.481, 213.84 was unopposed; Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.495, 214.18 def. John Gaydosh Jr, Chevrolet Camaro, Foul – Red Light; Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.493, 213.87 def. Alan Prusiensky, Dart, 6.566, 211.13;

QUARTERFINALS — Anderson, 6.565, 212.90 def. Coughlin, 11.527, 77.14; McGaha, 6.540, 212.73 def. Butner, 6.578, 213.54; S. Gray, 6.518, 213.13 def. Enders, 12.220, 71.88; Line, 6.513, 213.64 def. T. Gray, Broke;

SEMIFINALS — S. Gray, 7.116, 207.18 def. McGaha, 17.189, 46.84; Anderson, 6.543, 212.90 def. Line, 6.542, 213.37;

FINAL — S. Gray, 6.535, 212.96 def. Anderson, 6.560, 213.43.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE:

ROUND ONE — Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.790, 197.22 def. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, Broke; Scotty Pollacheck, Suzuki, 6.876, 194.41 def. Hector Arana, Buell, Foul – Red Light; LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.805, 197.19 def. Cory Reed, 6.952, 190.16; Matt Smith, 6.826, 195.99 def. Hector Arana Jr, Buell, Broke; Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.764, 198.52 def. Angelle Sampey, 10.641, 69.49; Joey Gladstone, Suzuki, 6.881, 195.65 def. Melissa Surber, Buell, 6.965, 186.30; Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.888, 194.32 def. Mike Berry, Buell, 6.977, 191.78; Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.876, 195.31 def. Angie Smith, Buell, 6.956, 192.08;

QUARTERFINALS — Johnson, 6.863, 195.08 def. Savoie, 6.803, 197.39; Gladstone, 6.839, 195.96 def. Tonglet, 6.839, 196.04; Krawiec, 6.793, 197.65 def. M. Smith, 6.901, 192.63; Hines, 6.827, 196.27 def. Pollacheck, 6.870, 194.41;

SEMIFINALS — Hines, 6.793, 197.36 def. Johnson, 9.767, 77.55; Krawiec, 6.766, 198.70 def. Gladstone, 6.886, 195.85;

FINAL — Krawiec, 6.763, 199.76 def. Hines, 6.802, 197.10.

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UPDATED POINT STANDINGS

TOP FUEL: 1.  Leah Pritchett, 300; 2.  Tony Schumacher, 279; 3.  Antron Brown, 243; 4.  Doug Kalitta, 220; 5.  Brittany Force, 202; 6.  Steve Torrence, 185; 7.  Troy Coughlin Jr., 143; 8.  Shawn Reed, 136; 9.  Clay Millican, 133; 10.  Scott Palmer, 116.

FUNNY CAR: 1.  Matt Hagan, 308; 2.  John Force, 238; 3.  Ron Capps, 235; 4.  Tommy Johnson Jr., 209; 5.  Courtney Force, 177; 6.  Robert Hight, 150; 7.  Jim Campbell, 148; 8.  Jack Beckman, 144; 9.  J.R. Todd, 138; 10.  Tim Wilkerson, 117.

PRO STOCK: 1.  Greg Anderson, 319; 2.  Jason Line, 281; 3.  Shane Gray, 226; 4.  Bo Butner, 198; 5.  Jeg Coughlin, 187; 6.  Tanner Gray, 181; 7.  Erica Enders, 167; 8.  Drew Skillman, 157; 9.  Vincent Nobile, 149; 10.  Chris McGaha, 139.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: 1.  Eddie Krawiec, 120; 2.  Andrew Hines, 97; 3.  Joey Gladstone, 81; 4.  Steve Johnson, 74; 5.  Jerry Savoie, 63; 6.  LE Tonglet, 58; 7.  (tie) Scotty Pollacheck, 52; Matt Smith, 52; 9.  Hector Arana, 36; 10.  Hector Arana Jr, 35.

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Fernando Alonso completes first test with United Autosports

Photo: United Autosports
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Two-time Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso enjoyed his first outing with United Autosports, with whom he will contest the 2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona, in their Ligier JS P217 LMP2 chassis.

The McLaren Formula 1 driver completed the test at Motorland Aragon in Spain alongside co-driver Phil Hanson, who will be a teammate with Alonso at next year’s 24-hour Daytona enduro. Filipe Albuquerque, a former GT class winner at the Rolex 24, was also on hand to help Alonso and the team ahead of Alonso’s first run in an LMP2 car, which comes only a couple days after he made his LMP1 testing debut with Toyota. Albuquerque races with Mustang Sampling Racing in IMSA, but will return to United’s European Le Mans Series program for all but one race in 2018.

“I had a great first test with United Autosports. Obviously, we are on a really tight schedule between now and Daytona, but it was nice to jump in the car for the first time,” said Alonso, who will rejoin the team at the official Roar Before the 24 test on January 5-7.

Alonso added, “There’s quite a few switches and things to study so it was important to do this initial shakedown before Daytona, so I could fully learn about the car. I’m happy with everything – the car felt great and the team were fantastic. The atmosphere here is wonderful, like a big family, so today has been amazing. I cannot wait for Daytona.”

Team owner Zak Brown, who also serves as executive director of McLaren Technology Group and helps lead the McLaren Formula 1 effort, shared Alonso’s enthusiasm and was not surprised he was able to acclimate himself relatively quickly.

“Fernando’s first test with United Autosports went awesome as expected. He is a world champion and it is a pleasure to have him in our car,” he said of Alonso’s debut with the team.

Alonso is currently schedule to contest the Rolex 24 with the aforementioned Hanson and McLaren test driver Lando Norris.