Courtney Force wins 2nd straight, 4th of season to lead winners in NHRA Midwest Nationals

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Are we beginning to see the passing of the Force torch, so to speak?

Courtney Force, daughter of legendary 16-time NHRA Funny Car champion John Force, is proving to be quite the chip off the old block.

In Sunday’s AAA Insurance Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park in suburban St. Louis, the younger Force earned her second straight Funny Car victory in the NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship playoffs.

She becomes the first woman in Funny Car history to win back-to-back races.

Force (4.094 seconds at 313.44 mph) outlasted 2011 Funny Car world champ Matt Hagan (4.121/309.77) in the final round of eliminations.

While father John still holds the lead in the Funny Car points standings, Courtney, who defeated John in Sunday’s semifinals, is now just 30 points behind him in second place.

“It’s pretty awesome, for sure,” Courtney Force said. “To have back-to-back wins and make a move in the Countdown is just huge for us. We need to create a gap between us and everyone behind us and climb our way up to catch dad if we want to win this championship. That’s what we have our eyes set on right now.”

It was Courtney Force’s fourth win of the season and seventh of her career. It also marks the first time in NHRA history that a father and daughter have held the top two positions in the standings.

“Everyone is so tough in this class that I’m definitely going to savor this moment with dad and I at Nos. 1 and 2,” Courtney Force said.

Winners in other classes were Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Dave Connolly (Pro Stock) and Jerry Savoie (Pro Stock Motorcycle) in the third of six playoff races.

In the final round of Top Fuel, Brown (3.844 seconds/315.42 mph) defeated Shawn Langdon (4.035/279.38).

“This was a big day for us,” Brown said. “We came into this race knowing our backs are against the wall. We’ve just been struggling at the last four races. We’ve been working hard, but no matter what we do, our car wasn’t cooperating with us. We got it back.”

It was the third straight time that Brown has won at Gateway and fourth overall in the same event.

“St. Louis has always been a good turning point for us,” Brown said. “The more pressure that’s on us and the more our backs are against the wall, the more focused our team gets to do what we need to get the job done.

“It shows you how brutal this class is. All these Countdown boys are playing hard. We’re back in that fighting mode. With three races left, we have to keep pushing to do what we need to do.”

In Pro Stock, Connolly (6.562 seconds/211.53 mph) won his second straight race and the fourth straight for Gray Motorsports, defeating Jason Line (6.565/211.66) in a photo finish.

“The four wins in a row; that’s what’s most impressive to me,” Connolly said. “That tells you the depth of Gray Motorsports. I’m having a blast racing with them this year. We’re getting breaks and everything is going our way. This is a humbling sport; it can turn on you any time. We’re going to enjoy the wins as they come.”

Even in defeat, Line remains atop the Pro Stock points, leading Connolly by just 26 points.

Lastly in Pro Stock Motorcycle, Savoie (6.871 seconds at 196.53 mph), a Louisiana alligator farmer during the week, earned his first career PSM victory, defeating veteran and former champ Andrew Hines (6.881/193.57).

“We had a good bike all weekend,” Savoie said. “It’s all good. Drag racing is a family thing. It’s amazing that the whole Pro Stock Motorcycle pit was so happy for me. I always said if I ever won one of these I would retire. Well, I lied.”

Even with the defeat, Hines remains atop the PSM points, holding a 57-point edge over Eddie Krawiec.

The next race is this coming weekend, Oct. 2-5, with the NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway near Reading, Pa.

 

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Final round results:

Top Fuel — Antron Brown, 3.844 seconds, 315.42 mph def. Shawn Langdon, 4.035 seconds, 279.38 mph.

Funny Car — Courtney Force, Ford Mustang, 4.094, 313.44 def. Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 4.121, 309.77.

Pro Stock — Dave Connolly, Chevy Camaro, 6.562, 211.53 def. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.565, 211.66.

Pro Stock Motorcycle — Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.871, 196.53 def. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.881, 193.57.

Pro Modified — Mike Knowles, Chevy Camaro, 5.934, 244.65 def. Von Smith, Camaro, 5.929, 241.80.

 

Final finishing order:

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

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

PRO STOCK: 1. Dave Connolly; 2. Jason Line; 3. Jeg Coughlin; 4. Erica Enders-Stevens; 5. V. Gaines; 6. Jonathan Gray; 7. Allen Johnson; 8. Vincent Nobile; 9. Shane Gray; 10. Richie Stevens; 11. Rodger Brogdon; 12. Deric Kramer; 13. Chris McGaha; 14. Larry Morgan; 15. Greg Anderson; 16. Aaron Stanfield.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: 1. Jerry Savoie; 2. Andrew Hines; 3. Eddie Krawiec; 4. Hector Arana Jr; 5. Steve Johnson; 6. John Hall; 7. Adam Arana; 8. Hector Arana; 9. Matt Smith; 10. Scotty Pollacheck; 11. Jim Underdahl; 12. Angelle Sampey; 13. Angie Smith; 14. Shawn Gann; 15. Chaz Kennedy; 16. Craig Treble.

 

Final round-by-round results:

TOP FUEL:

ROUND ONE — Antron Brown, 3.799, 319.22 def. Brittany Force, 3.837, 319.52; Shawn Langdon, 3.785, 318.02 def. Pat Dakin, 3.951, 300.00; Kyle Wurtzel, 3.911, 310.84 def. Richie Crampton, 3.950, 263.82; Doug Kalitta, 3.796, 323.35 def. Chris Karamesines, 3.954, 287.47; Terry McMillen, 3.878, 316.90 def. Tony Schumacher, 5.283, 137.54; J.R. Todd, 4.380, 233.40 def. Troy Buff, broke; Steve Torrence, 3.781, 325.61 def. Khalid alBalooshi, 11.568, 43.79; Bob Vandergriff, 3.841, 319.37 def. Spencer Massey, 5.241, 133.68.

QUARTERFINALS — Brown, 3.814, 316.45 def. McMillen, 4.661, 165.74; Vandergriff, 4.736, 281.25 def. Kalitta, 6.436, 145.19; Langdon, 3.827, 316.90 def. Todd, 3.952, 305.15; Torrence, 3.865, 321.35 def. Wurtzel, 4.005, 245.54.

SEMIFINALS — Langdon, 3.810, 316.15 def. Vandergriff, 9.901, 85.99; Brown, 3.846, 317.87 def. Torrence, 3.817, 324.36.

FINAL — Brown, 3.844, 315.42 def. Langdon, 4.035, 279.38.

 

FUNNY CAR:

ROUND ONE — Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 4.158, 299.06 def. Alexis DeJoria, Toyota Camry, 4.170, 285.65; Courtney Force, Ford Mustang, 4.101, 314.31 def. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 8.380, 85.49; John Force, Mustang, 4.103, 312.35 def. Brian Stewart, Mustang, 4.193, 303.98; Jeff Arend, Charger, 4.500, 231.79 def. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 4.562, 187.31; Chad Head, Camry, 4.121, 305.98 def. Robert Hight, Mustang, 4.097, 311.49; Del Worsham, Camry, 4.123, 305.29 def. Jeff Diehl, Toyota Solara, broke; Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.128, 307.51 def. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.146, 310.27; Ron Capps, Charger, 4.122, 308.50 def. Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.153, 306.19.

QUARTERFINALS — Hagan, 4.139, 307.44 def. Arend, 11.966, 63.61; Head, 4.155, 308.21 def. Johnson Jr., broke; C. Force, 4.154, 311.13 def. Worsham, 10.873, 70.40; J. Force, 4.111, 312.50 def. Capps, 4.166, 308.92.

SEMIFINALS — Hagan, 4.158, 302.96 def. Head, 4.903, 211.03; C. Force, 4.143, 311.56 def. J. Force, 4.119, 311.27.

FINAL — C. Force, 4.094, 313.44 def. Hagan, 4.121, 309.77.

 

PRO STOCK:

ROUND ONE — Jonathan Gray, Chevy Camaro, 6.540, 211.49 def. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 25.156, 38.24; Allen Johnson, Dodge Dart, 6.532, 212.43 def. Richie Stevens, Camaro, 6.553, 211.26; Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.544, 212.43 def. Rodger Brogdon, Camaro, foul; Dave Connolly, Camaro, 6.538, 211.59 def. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.614, 209.56; Jason Line, Camaro, 6.556, 211.76 def. Aaron Stanfield, Camaro, foul; Jeg Coughlin, Dart, 6.537, 211.99 def. Deric Kramer, Dodge Avenger, 6.603, 208.62; Erica Enders-Stevens, Camaro, 6.514, 212.66 def. Larry Morgan, Ford Mustang, 6.651, 208.78; V. Gaines, Avenger, 6.562, 211.16 def. Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.546, 211.30.

QUARTERFINALS — Line, 6.567, 211.86 def. Nobile, 19.541, 38.66; Connolly, 6.551, 211.53 def. Gaines, 6.572, 210.97; Coughlin, 6.567, 211.20 def. Johnson, 11.865, 73.96; Enders-Stevens, 6.538, 212.39 def. J. Gray, 6.590, 206.48.

SEMIFINALS — Line, 6.595, 211.53 def. Coughlin, 6.573, 212.13; Connolly, 6.576, 211.46 def. Enders-Stevens, 15.947, 52.67.

FINAL — Connolly, 6.562, 211.53 def. Line, 6.565, 211.66.

 

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE:

ROUND ONE — John Hall, Buell, 6.972, 178.59 def. Chaz Kennedy, Buell, 7.035, 188.94; Adam Arana, Buell, 6.898, 194.35 def. Matt Smith, Buell, 6.893, 192.77; Hector Arana, Buell, 6.923, 195.62 def. Angelle Sampey, Buell, foul; Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.895, 194.69 def. Scotty Pollacheck, Buell, 6.900, 191.54; Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.837, 195.25 def. Angie Smith, Buell, foul; Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.823, 196.56 def. Craig Treble, Buell, broke; Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.803, 197.39 def. Shawn Gann, Buell, 7.016, 191.81; Hector Arana Jr, Buell, 8.885, 99.35 def. Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, foul.

QUARTERFINALS — Arana Jr, 6.909, 192.71 def. H. Arana, 7.033, 194.27; Hines, 6.856, 193.24 def. Johnson, foul; Savoie, 6.865, 196.19 def. Hall, foul; Krawiec, 6.856, 194.66 def. A. Arana, 6.943, 193.10.

SEMIFINALS — Savoie, 6.824, 197.54 def. Arana Jr, 6.927, 192.63; Hines, 6.874, 193.77 def. Krawiec, 6.863, 194.88.

FINAL — Savoie, 6.871, 196.53 def. Hines, 6.881, 193.57.

 

Uupdated points standings:

Top Fuel: 1. Tony Schumacher, 2,337; 2. Shawn Langdon, 2,280; 3. Steve Torrence, 2,266; 4. Antron Brown, 2,257; 5. Doug Kalitta, 2,250; 6. J.R. Todd, 2,228; 7. Spencer Massey, 2,199; 8. Khalid alBalooshi, 2,188; 9. Richie Crampton, 2,125; 10. Brittany Force, 2,085.

Funny Car: 1. John Force, 2,344; 2. Courtney Force, 2,314; 3. Matt Hagan, 2,302; 4. Robert Hight, 2,253; 5. Ron Capps, 2,218; 6. Tommy Johnson Jr., 2,216; 7. Alexis DeJoria, 2,196; 8. Del Worsham, 2,193; 9. Tim Wilkerson, 2,155; 10. Cruz Pedregon, 2,135.

Pro Stock: 1. Jason Line, 2,364; 2. Dave Connolly, 2,338; 3. Erica Enders-Stevens, 2,297; 4. Shane Gray, 2,256; 5. Jonathan Gray, 2,245; 6. Vincent Nobile, 2,241; 7. Jeg Coughlin, 2,231; 8. Allen Johnson, 2,220; 9. V. Gaines, 2,155; 10. Chris McGaha, 2,104.

Pro Stock Motorcycle: 1. Andrew Hines, 2,400; 2. Eddie Krawiec, 2,343; 3. Hector Arana Jr, 2,256; 4. Steve Johnson, 2,253; 5. Matt Smith, 2,202; 6. John Hall, 2,191; 7. (tie) Hector Arana, 2,176; Scotty Pollacheck, 2,176; 9. Angie Smith, 2,125; 10. Michael Ray, 2,071.

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Cadillac confirms WEC driver lineup with Chip Ganassi Racing that will race Le Mans in 2023

Cadillac Ganassi Le Mans
Cadillac Racing
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Cadillac and Chip Ganassi Racing announced their driver lineup for a 2023 entry in the FIA World Endurance Championship, the sports car series that includes the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The Cadillac V-LMDh entry will be driven by Earl Bamber and Alex Lynn, who were teamed on the No. 02 Cadillac that competed in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship DPi class this season and won the Twelve Hours of Sebring. The third driver will be Richard Westbrook, who will return to Ganassi after helping the team to a GT class win at Le Mans in 2018.

The team also will compete in the Rolex 24 at Daytona in the rebranded Grand Touring Prototype premier category, which is designed for crossover between the top prototypes in IMSA and WEC. Ganassi will field a second entry at Daytona with its No. 01 Cadillac that will compete full time in IMSA with Sebastien Bourdais and Renger van der Zande.

A Ganassi spokesman said the team hopes to run its second entry in the 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans but only its WEC team is confirmed (an AOC invitation would be required for the IMSA team). The team also is exploring options but currently plans to have the WEC’s team base of operations in Indianapolis.

Ganassi is the first American-based prototype team to confirm its entry in the 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans. It’s expected that Team Penske, which raced this year’s Le Mans with a full-time WEC entry in LMP2, also will race Le Mans with Porsche’s new LMDh car that is set for IMSA, but the manufacturer has yet to confirm its driver and team lineup.

Next year will mark the return of Cadillac to Le Mans for the first time since 2002.

Before joining Ganassi last year, Lynn made 28 WEC starts since 2016, winning the LMGTE Pro class at Le Mans in 2020.

“I’m absolutely thrilled to continue with Cadillac and Chip Ganassi Racing,” Lynn said in a release. “It’s a huge honor to drive for Chip in any capacity but certainly on a full factory sports car program, it’s seriously cool. Cadillac has so much heritage as a luxury North American sports car brand, so to be able to represent them is a huge privilege. I’ve had a lot of fun in my first year doing it and to continue that onto the World Endurance Championship stage is fantastic.

“For me, returning to WEC is sort of what I’ve always known and it’s a bit like going into my wheelhouse. This year in IMSA was a bit different with getting to know all-new circuits and a new style of racing so 2023 will be filled with a bit more of what I’m used to with more of a European focus. I think what’s significant about WEC is without a doubt Le Mans. As a sports car race, Le Mans is the crown jewel and everything that we want to win. To be able to take Chip Ganassi Racing and Cadillac back to Le Mans to fight for overall honors is a huge honor and that’s something that I’m going to work tirelessly to make sure we achieve.”

Bamber won the Le Mans overall in 2015 and ’17 with Porsche teams and also was a 2019 GTLM champion in IMSA.

“I am really happy to continue at Chip Ganassi Racing and Cadillac,” Bamber said in a release. “I’ve loved my first season in DPi and now to continue over into the LMDh era and WEC is super exciting. Looking forward to fighting for a world championship and another Le Mans victory.

“The World Endurance Championships gives us the opportunity to race at the world’s biggest race, which is Le Mans, the crown jewel of sports car racing. I’ve been lucky enough to win it before and it’s obviously a huge goal for Cadillac and everyone at Chip Ganassi Racing. To have that goal in sight is really exciting. It’s been great to have Alex as a teammate in 2022. We’ve been able to learn and grow together in the DPi, and we have a really good partnership going into WEC. We know each other really well and believe adding Richard will be a seamless transition.”

Said Westbrook: “After four really good years at Chip Ganassi Racing, I’ve got so many friends there and I’ve always dreamt to come back one day. It just worked so well between 2016 and 2019, and I’m delighted we found a route to come together again. I can’t wait, it’s an exciting era in sports car racing right now.

“I feel like I know Alex and Earl really well. I did Le Mans with Alex in 2020 and I’ve known him for years. It feels like I’m going back with an ex-teammate and exactly the same with Earl. Although I’ve never shared a car with Earl, we’ve always done the same sort of racing be it in WEC or in IMSA. We’ve had lots of battles, including this year in our dueling Cadillacs. We’ve always gotten along quite well, and I can say we’re going to have a great year together.”

The seven-race WEC season, which also includes a stop at Spa, will begin March 17 with the 1,000 Miles of Sebring at Sebring International Raceway in Florida.