Photo courtesy NHRA

NHRA: Crampton, Beckman, Gray, Krawiec take home Gatornationals wins

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Richie Crampton (Top Fuel), Jack Beckman (Funny Car), Tanner Gray (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were the winners of this weekend’s Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals in Gainesville, Florida.

The third race of the 24-race NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series national event series, the 49th Gatornationals saw significant surprises among the winners:

* Crampton earned his first Top Fuel win since October 2015 in Ennis, Texas.

* In a 20-plus year career, Beckman finally earned his first event win at Gainesville.

* Gray became a third-generation Pro Stock event winner at Gainesville, following in the footsteps of grandfather Johnny Gray and father Shane Gray.

* Krawiec opened the 2018 Pro Stock Motorcycle season (PSM runs at only 16 of the NHRA’s 24 national events) with his sixth career win at Gainesville.

MORE: NHRA: John Force-like motor explosions get contagious during Sunday’s Gatornationals

Here’s how the event played out:

* In Top Fuel, Crampton roared to the uncontested win when Shawn Reed shut off his dragster at the starting line before the start of the final round matchup.

Crampton earned his first win since joining Kalitta Motorsports with 7 races remaining last season with a pass of 3.854 seconds at 314.90 mph.

In addition, it was the 96th all-time win in 50-plus years for Kalitta Motorsports, and Crampton becomes the 10th different driver to earn at least one win for the Kalitta organization over the years.

“This is probably one of my most rewarding wins, ever,” Crampton said. “All I ever wanted to do was stand in the winner’s circle with (team owner) Connie Kalitta. Not a lot of people have had that luxury and I’m not taking this one lightly.”

In Funny Car, Beckman got the jump on Don Schumacher Racing teammate Matt Hagan at the starting line and sailed to a winning run of 4.035 seconds at 323.58 mph.

It’s Beckman’s first win since last fall in St. Louis.

“Winning this race was such a bucket-list thing,” Beckman said. “The Gatornationals came on the schedule in 1970, that year was a big year for our sport and it has been at this track ever since and I’ve never gotten close.”

In Pro Stock, Gray covered the dragstrip in 6.588 seconds at 210.18 mph, defeating defending world champ Bo Butner.

“We’ve been struggling since the beginning of the season,” Gray said. “Today was our first-round win of the season. It has definitely been a struggle, but I think it is starting to come around.”

In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Krawiec won for the third consecutive year and sixth time overall at Gainesville.

Krawiec, who qualified No. 2, covered the track in 6.824 seconds at 198.44 mph.

“Right now, I’m riding with the confidence that no one can beat me,” Krawiec said. “I have a great motorcycle underneath me and a great team behind me. Anytime a rider or a driver has confidence it just makes them that much better.”

The next NHRA national event will be the DENSO Spark Plug NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway April 6-8 in Las Vegas.

It will be the first time The Strip will host a four-wide event, making it the second track in the NHRA to host a four-wide race. The other track is The Strip’s sister facility, zMax Dragway in Concord, North Carolina.

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FINAL FINISHING ORDER:

TOP FUEL: 1. Richie Crampton; 2. Shawn Reed; 3. Clay Millican; 4. Antron Brown; 5. Leah Pritchett; 6. Terry McMillen; 7. Tony Schumacher; 8. Mike Salinas; 9. Brittany Force; 10. Doug Kalitta; 11. Scott Palmer; 12. Pat Dakin; 13. Terry Haddock; 14. Terry Totten; 15. Audrey Worm; 16. Steve Torrence.

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

PRO STOCK: 1. Tanner Gray; 2. Bo Butner; 3. Drew Skillman; 4. Vincent Nobile; 5. Chris McGaha; 6. Val Smeland; 7. Alan Prusiensky; 8. Greg Anderson; 9. Deric Kramer; 10. Jeg Coughlin; 11. Alex Laughlin; 12. John Gaydosh Jr; 13. Erica Enders; 14. Wally Stroupe; 15. Kenny Delco; 16. Jason Line.

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

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FINAL RESULTS:

TOP FUEL: Richie Crampton, 3.854 seconds, 314.90 mph def. Shawn Reed, Broke.

FUNNY CAR: Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger, 4.035, 323.58 def. Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.034, 322.04.

PRO STOCK: Tanner Gray, Chevy Camaro, 6.588, 210.18 def. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.605, 210.34.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.824, 198.44 def. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.853, 197.19.

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FINAL ROUND-BY-ROUND RESULTS:

TOP FUEL: ROUND ONE — Shawn Reed, 3.830, 322.65 def. Pat Dakin, 3.892, 296.96; Terry McMillen, 3.763, 328.46 def. Scott Palmer, 3.777, 325.53; Leah Pritchett, 3.735, 321.50 def. Terry Haddock, 4.032, 284.75; Antron Brown, 5.162, 191.05 def. Audrey Worm, 8.482, 63.53; Mike Salinas, 3.793, 327.98 def. Steve Torrence, Foul – Centerline; Clay Millican, 3.792, 330.88 def. Terry Totten, 8.175, 78.08; Tony Schumacher, 3.717, 329.26 def. Brittany Force, 3.742, 329.10; Richie Crampton, 3.776, 317.49 def. Doug Kalitta, 3.769, 327.98; QUARTERFINALS — Crampton, 4.413, 258.81 def. Salinas, Foul – Centerline; Millican, 3.758, 331.28 def. McMillen, 3.831, 325.37; Reed, 4.027, 245.58 def. Schumacher, 4.604, 200.77; Brown, 3.793, 324.20 def. Pritchett, 3.779, 327.51; SEMIFINALS — Crampton, 5.097, 204.85 def. Brown, 6.132, 196.62; Reed, 4.030, 301.94 def. Millican, 4.934, 156.21; FINAL — Crampton, 3.854, 314.90 def. Reed, Broke.

FUNNY CAR: ROUND ONE — Tommy Johnson Jr., Dodge Charger, 3.995, 325.69 def. Cruz Pedregon, Toyota Camry, 4.083, 298.87; Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 3.894, 330.55 def. Dave Richards, Ford Mustang, 8.232, 85.43; Courtney Force, Camaro, 4.003, 277.20 def. John Force, Camaro, 4.218, 232.71; Jack Beckman, Charger, 3.934, 327.43 def. Jim Campbell, Charger, 4.183, 305.29; Shawn Langdon, Camry, 3.943, 324.75 def. Gary Densham, Mustang, 4.145, 273.61; Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.976, 328.38 def. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 7.821, 131.27; Ron Capps, Charger, 3.959, 324.28 def. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 3.981, 325.30; Del Worsham, Camry, 4.013, 324.75 def. J.R. Todd, Camry, Broke; QUARTERFINALS — Capps, 4.060, 317.64 def. C. Force, 8.255, 88.83; Hagan, 4.027, 291.26 def. Hight, 4.067, 265.53; Beckman, 3.973, 318.54 def. Worsham, 4.032, 315.56; Langdon, 4.025, 313.37 def. Johnson Jr., 4.841, 172.10; SEMIFINALS — Hagan, 4.056, 310.91 def. Capps, 9.134, 81.86; Beckman, 4.478, 199.35 def. Langdon, 9.414, 81.39; FINAL — Beckman, 4.035, 323.58 def. Hagan, 4.034, 322.04.

PRO STOCK: ROUND ONE — Drew Skillman, Chevy Camaro, 6.571, 211.66 def. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.757, 208.39; Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.568, 210.14 def. Kenny Delco, Camaro, 11.537, 76.81; Tanner Gray, Camaro, 6.577, 210.77 def. Deric Kramer, Camaro, 6.569, 210.24; Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.573, 210.54 def. Jeg Coughlin, Camaro, 6.602, 207.34; Alan Prusiensky, Dodge Dart, 6.731, 206.64 def. Jason Line, Camaro, 25.114, 29.77; Val Smeland, Camaro, 6.733, 205.60 def. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, Foul – Red Light; Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.567, 210.41 def. Wally Stroupe, Camaro, 7.049, 196.93; Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.603, 210.93 def. John Gaydosh Jr., Chevrolet Camaro, 6.656, 207.88; QUARTERFINALS — Gray, 6.612, 209.69 def. McGaha, 6.621, 210.08; Butner, 6.593, 210.14 def. Prusiensky, 6.905, 169.38; Nobile, 6.614, 209.88 def. Smeland, 6.679, 207.18; Skillman, 6.613, 210.28 def. Anderson, 9.278, 106.32; SEMIFINALS — Gray, 8.315, 179.52 def. Nobile, 12.836, 81.64; Butner, 6.623, 209.39 def. Skillman, 6.642, 210.05; FINAL — Gray, 6.588, 210.18 def. Butner, 6.605, 210.34.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: ROUND ONE — Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 6.935, 194.69 def. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.880, 196.13; Angelle Sampey, 6.902, 194.94 def. Ryan Oehler, Buell, 6.943, 191.29; Cory Reed, 6.953, 191.95 def. Hector Arana Jr., Buell, 6.945, 198.38; Scotty Pollacheck, Suzuki, 8.303, 115.65 def. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, Foul – Red Light; Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.844, 197.86 def. LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 9.070, 102.07; Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.809, 199.52 def. Mark Paquette, 7.008, 190.43; Hector Arana, Buell, 6.914, 195.70 def. Joey Gladstone, Suzuki, 7.005, 190.16; Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.920, 196.10 def. Angie Smith, Buell, Foul – Red Light; QUARTERFINALS — Pollacheck, 6.875, 196.44 def. Reed, 6.925, 192.30; Arana, 6.874, 197.88 def. Stoffer, 6.981, 192.36; Krawiec, 6.852, 197.80 def. Johnson, 6.929, 194.46; Hines, 6.857, 197.71 def. Sampey, 7.077, 165.46; SEMIFINALS — Hines, 6.868, 196.96 def. Pollacheck, 7.044, 193.54; Krawiec, 6.852, 197.68 def. Arana, 6.969, 197.25; FINAL — Krawiec, 6.824, 198.44 def. Hines, 6.853, 197.19.

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POINT STANDINGS:

TOP FUEL: 1. Steve Torrence, 217; 2. Antron Brown, 210; 3. Clay Millican, 204; 4. Tony Schumacher, 198; 5. Doug Kalitta, 182; 6. Richie Crampton, 163; 7. Scott Palmer, 161; 8. Leah Pritchett, 147; 9. Brittany Force, 117; 10. Terry McMillen, 116.

FUNNY CAR: 1. Matt Hagan, 268; 2. Jack Beckman, 247; 3. Courtney Force, 219; 4. Ron Capps, 218; 5. Robert Hight, 185; 6. Tommy Johnson Jr., 182; 7. Shawn Langdon, 174; 8. (tie) Jonnie Lindberg, 117; J.R. Todd, 117; 10. Del Worsham, 116.

PRO STOCK: 1. Bo Butner, 245; 2. Jason Line, 232; 3. Chris McGaha, 213; 4. (tie) Deric Kramer, 190; Drew Skillman, 190; 6. Greg Anderson, 186; 7. Tanner Gray, 176; 8. Alex Laughlin, 175; 9. Vincent Nobile, 170; 10. Erica Enders, 166.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: 1. Eddie Krawiec, 123; 2. Andrew Hines, 107; 3. Scotty Pollacheck, 76; 4. Hector Arana, 71; 5. (tie) Steve Johnson, 53; Angelle Sampey, 53; 7. Karen Stoffer, 52; 8. Cory Reed, 51; 9. Joey Gladstone, 39; 10. Hector Arana Jr, 38.

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NHRA shocker in Houston: John Force fails to qualify for first time since 2008, snaps 221-race streak

Photo and videos courtesy NHRA
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Sunday’s eliminations in the 31st annual NHRA SpringNationals at Royal Purple Raceway in suburban Houston  just won’t be the same without John Force.

In one of the most stunning turn of events seen in the last decade-plus in NHRA drag racing, the legendary 16-time Funny Car champion and the sport’s all-time winningest driver on Saturday failed to qualify for Sunday’s main event of the race weekend.

It marks the first time Force, who turns 69 on May 4, failed to qualify for a race since Sept. 13, 2008 in Charlotte race, snapping a string of having made the eliminations in each of the subsequent 221 races until failing to do so Saturday.

“That is hard for me,” Force said after failing to go any faster than 222.29 mph in the four qualifying rounds for the race, two on Friday and the other two on Saturday. “You earn what you get. We didn’t put it in the show. We couldn’t get to half-track.

“We have had a lot of problems all year. At least I got my final shot to get in and I didn’t make it. I will be here tomorrow rooting on Robert, Courtney and Brittany (teammates Robert Hight and daughters Courtney and Brittany Force). I’ll be signing autographs for all the fans. I am sorry to all of you fans that I didn’t make it.”

Saturday’s failure to qualify marked only the 22nd time he’s DNQ’d in his 40-year professional drag racing career. He set a drag racing record by qualifying for 395 consecutive events from 1988 until April 2007.

“I am bummed that the boss didn’t get in. That was quite a streak he had going,” Hight said of hoss and father-in-law. “There is nobody better at rallying a team and leading a comeback than John Force.

“He loves the fight and he will do whatever it takes to get his team back on top. It really isn’t something to worry about because two of our Chevys are No.1 and No. 2 right now.

“We have good combinations and we just have to duplicate one of those set ups for John’s PEAK Funny car. He’ll be back next week in Charlotte.”

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As for the other classes (information courtesy NHRA Media Relations):Leah Pritchett set a new Top Fuel track record during the final qualifying session on Saturday to secure the top spot in Top Fuel heading into Sunday.Hight (Funny Car) and Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) are also No. 1 qualifiers in their respective categories at the fifth of 24 events on the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.

Defending event champion Pritchett raced her Mopar Dodge dragster to a pass of 3.680-seconds at 326.00 mph. This is her first No. 1 qualifier of the season and eighth of her career.

“We’ve been developing our confidence the last couple of races,” Pritchett stated. “To be able to put it on the track is phenomenal. We know we need to be exceptional because our competition is exceptional.”

Pritchett will line up against Terry Brian in round one of eliminations on Sunday. Defending world champion Brittany Force locked-in the No. 2 spot after a 3.701 at 313.80 in her Monster Energy dragster. Tony Schumacher is seeded third and will face William Litton.

Hight’s final qualifying pass of 3.894 at 317.27 in his Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro took him to the top of the Funny Car category. This is his first No. 1 qualifier of the season, second at Houston and 58th of his career.

“This is going to be a new ball game tomorrow,” Hight said. “With fresh asphalt and the sun being out; these cars are going to spin. It’s definitely going to be fun. Two of our Chevy’s are one and two (in Funny Car) which shows we have good combinations.”

Hight will face-off against Todd Simpson Sunday morning in the first round. Teammate Courtney Force sits in the No. 2 position with a pass of 3.911 at 295.14 in her Advance Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro and two-time world champion Matt Hagan rounds out the top three.

Anderson, four-time Pro Stock world champion, remained atop the field Saturday with his pass of 6.492 at 213.00 in his Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro from the first qualifying session on Friday. He notched his third consecutive No. 1 qualifier of the season and is seeking his first victory of the year.

“I haven’t had great Sunday’s yet,” Anderson stated. “I know I’m going to break through one of these days though. The weather is going to be great again tomorrow. I feel good about it, I’m excited and so far it’s just been a great weekend.”

Anderson will race Steve Graham in the first round of eliminations. Jeg Coughlin Jr. qualified in the No. 2 position with a pass of 6.504 at 212.36 in his JEGS.com/Elite Performance Chevrolet Camaro and Tanner Gray is third.

Eliminations at the NHRA SpringNationals begin at 11 a.m. on Sunday at Royal Purple Raceway.

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SUNDAY’S FIRST-ROUND PAIRINGS FOR ELIMINATIONS:

TOP FUEL: 1. Leah Pritchett, 3.680 seconds, 326.00 mph vs. 16. Terry Brian, 4.275, 284.62; 2. Brittany Force, 3.701, 320.20 vs. 15. Terry Haddock, 4.081, 287.17; 3. Tony Schumacher, 3.703, 322.73 vs. 14. Bill Litton, 3.927, 306.60; 4. Billy Torrence, 3.737, 317.87 vs. 13. Kebin Kinsley, 3.819, 313.51; 5. Antron Brown, 3.740, 324.98 vs. 12. Terry McMillen, 3.783, 314.31; 6. Clay Millican, 3.746, 315.78 vs. 11. Mike Salinas, 3.766, 313.73; 7. Doug Kalitta, 3.748, 320.05 vs. 10. Richie Crampton, 3.766, 316.23; 8. Scott Palmer, 3.754, 318.17 vs. 9. Steve Torrence, 3.759, 313.88. Did Not Qualify: 17. Terry Totten, 4.636, 216.34.

FUNNY CAR: 1. Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 3.894, 317.27 vs. 16. Todd Simpson, Dodge Charger, 4.318, 288.33; 2. Courtney Force, Camaro, 3.911, 313.58 vs. 15. Jeff Diehl, Toyota Camry, 4.151, 283.49; 3. Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.913, 311.85 vs. 14. Ron Capps, Charger, 4.077, 305.77; 4. Jack Beckman, Charger, 3.918, 317.42 vs. 13. Richard Townsend, Camry, 4.026, 308.99; 5. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 3.918, 301.94 vs. 12. Del Worsham, Camry, 4.017, 307.51; 6. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 3.925, 311.41 vs. 11. Shawn Langdon, Camry, 3.994, 311.34; 7. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 3.926, 313.00 vs. 10. J.R. Todd, Camry, 3.989, 313.37; 8. Jonnie Lindberg, Camry, 3.927, 316.52 vs. 9. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 3.938, 314.09. Did Not Qualify: 17. Jim Campbell, 4.341, 273.05; 18. John Force, 4.625, 222.29.

PRO STOCK: 1. Greg Anderson, Chevy Camaro, 6.492, 213.00 vs. 16. Steve Graham, Camaro, 6.775, 205.60; 2. Jeg Coughlin, Camaro, 6.504, 212.36 vs. 15. Alan Prusiensky, Dodge Dart, 6.621, 208.65; 3. Tanner Gray, Camaro, 6.507, 211.99 vs. 14. John Gaydosh Jr, Chevrolet Camaro, 6.592, 210.93; 4. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.513, 212.29 vs. 13. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.548, 210.67; 5. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.518, 211.99 vs. 12. Rodger Brogdon, Camaro, 6.545, 210.50; 6. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.525, 212.79 vs. 11. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.532, 212.73; 7. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.527, 212.29 vs. 10. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.532, 211.79; 8. Deric Kramer, Camaro, 6.528, 211.93 vs. 9. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.530, 211.33.