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.

 

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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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Cadillac, Acura battle for top speed as cars back on track for Rolex 24 at Daytona practice

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The new hybrid prototypes of Cadillac and Acura battled atop the speed chart as practice resumed Thursday for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Chip Ganassi Racing driver Richard Westbrook was fastest Thursday afternoon in the No. 02 Cadillac V-LMDh with a 1-minute, 35.185-second lap around the 12-turn, 3.56-mile road course at Daytona International Speedway.

That pace topped Ricky Taylor’s 1:35.366 lap that topped the Thursday morning session that marked the first time the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship was back on track since qualifying Sunday afternoon that concluded the four-day Roar Before The Rolex 24 test.

In a final session Thursday night, Matt Campbell was fastest (1:35.802) in the No. 7 Porsche Penske Motorsports Porsche 963 but still was off the times set by Westbrook and Taylor.

Punctuated by Tom Blomqvist’s pole position for defending race winner Meyer Shank Racing, the Acura ARX-06s had been fastest for much of the Roar and led four consecutive practice sessions.

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But the times have been extremely tight in the new Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) category that has brought hybrid engines to IMSA’s premier class. Only 0.9 seconds separated the nine LMDh cars in GTP in qualifying, and though the spread slightly widened to 1.378 seconds in Thursday’s practices with teams on varying strategies and preparation, Westbrook still pooh-poohed the importance of speeds.

“It’s always nice to be at the top, but I don’t think it means too much or read too much into it” Westbrook said. “Big fuel tanks in the GTP class this year, so you have no idea what fuel levels people are running. We had a good run, and the car is really enjoyable to drive now. I definitely wasn’t saying that a month ago.

“It really does feel good now. We are working on performance and definitely unlocking some potential, and it just gives us more confidence going into the race. It’s going to be super tight. Everyone’s got the same power, everyone has the same downforce, everyone has the same drag levels and let’s just go race.”

Because teams have put such a premium on reliability, handling mostly has suffered in the GTPs, but Westbrook said the tide had turned Thursday.

“These cars are so competitive, and you were just running it for the sake of running it in the beginning, and there’s so much going on, you don’t really have time to work on performance,” he said. “A lot of emphasis was on durability in the beginning, and rightly so, but now finally we can work on performance, and that’s the same for other manufacturers as well. But we’re worrying about ourselves and improving every run, and I think everybody’s pretty happy with their Cadillac right now.”

Mike Shank, co-owner of Blomqvist’s No. 60 on the pole, said his team still was facing reliability problems despite its speed.

“We address them literally every hour,” Shank said. “We’re addressing some little thing we’re doing better to try to make it last. And also we’re talking about how we race the race, which will be different from years past.

“Just think about every system in the car, I’m not going to say which ones we’re working on, but there are systems in the car that ORECA and HPD are continually trying to improve. By the way, sometimes we put them on the car and take them off before it even goes out on the track because something didn’t work with electronics. There’s so much programming. So many departments have to talk to each other. That bridge gets broken from a code not being totally correct, and the car won’t run. Or the power steering turns off.”

Former Rolex 24 winner Renger van der Zande of Ganassi said it still is a waiting game until the 24-hour race begins Saturday shortly after 1:30 p.m.

“I think the performance of the car is good,” van der Zande said. “No drama. We’re chipping away on setup step by step and the team is in control. It’s crazy out there what people do on the track at the moment. It’s about staying cool and peak at the right moment, and it’s not the right moment yet for that. We’ll keep digging.”


PRACTICE RESULTS:

Click here for Session I (by class)

Click here for Session II (by class)

Click here for Session III (by class)

Combined speeds