NHRA: John Force earns record 142nd Funny Car win in Las Vegas, Crampton and Enders-Stevens also triumph

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John Force said in an exclusive interview with MotorSportsTalk last week that he wasn’t worried about the slow start he has had in the 2015 season.

He came into this weekend’s SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals without a win and was ranked 13th in the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series standings.

Not anymore.

The winningest driver in NHRA history, Force stormed to his record 142nd NHRA Funny Car national event victory on Sunday. In turn, he promptly jumped from 13th to 6th in the Funny Car standings, earned his fifth victory at The Strip and also recorded the first Funny Car win by a Chevrolet since 2003.

Force switched to Chevrolet for the 2015 season after a nearly two-decade run driving for Ford.

MORE: EXCLUSIVE: John Force’s life has changed dramatically in last year, but he’s still standing and fighting

Force defeated teammate and son-in-law Robert Hight in an all-John Force Racing final round at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Force’s winning run was 4.148 seconds at 312.35 mph, besting Hight’s pass of 4.154 seconds at 306.05 mph. Hight is also president of John Force Racing.

“Robert is my best team,” said Force, a record 16-time Funny Car season champion. “He’s hot on that Christmas tree so I really got to get after him.

“The win was good but all that we’ve been through, with financial change, my sponsors promised to keep me competitive, win championships and I could build safety. We were lucky today and I’ll take lucky any day because it buys us some time to learn.”

In Top Fuel, Richie Crampton (3.902 seconds at 301.33 mph) earned his third career win and first in Las Vegas, defeating Larry Dixon (4.466 seconds, 201.73 mph).

“It’s huge,” said Crampton, who was 2014 NHRA Top Fuel Rookie of the Year. “Obviously, we want to win right out of the gate but that hasn’t always been the case for Morgan Lucas Racing. To win at the fifth event and technically go to the final at the Four-Wide (two weeks ago at Charlotte), we’re gathering some good momentum and it’s a huge boost for our entire team. We got a great hot track race car.”

In Pro Stock, 2014 champ Erica Enders-Stevens notched her first win of the season and 13th of her career.

Enders-Stevens (6.674 seconds, 207.24 mph) got the jump at the start of the final round, which led her to victory over Vincent Nobile (6.674 seconds, 207.91 mph).

“My guys work so hard and continue to give me a consistent race car which has been a struggle to start this year,” Enders-Stevens said. “I think we got our hot rod back and I guess we can start saying Vegas is our lucky track.”

Enders-Stevens also won Saturday’s K&N Horsepower Challenge, a Pro Stock specialty race, on Saturday. By winning both races, she earned $75,000 and became the first driver to sweep both events in consecutive seasons since Bob Glidden did so in 1987 and 1988.

Las Vegas was the fifth of 24 races on the NHRA pro schedule. The next race is the O’Reilly Auto Parts SpringNationals, April 24-26, near Houston, Texas.

FINAL FINISHING ORDER:

TOP FUEL: 1.  Richie Crampton; 2.  Larry Dixon; 3.  J.R. Todd; 4.  Spencer Massey; 5.  Steve Torrence; 6. Shawn Langdon; 7.  Clay Millican; 8.  Dom Lagana; 9.  Doug Kalitta; 10.  Tony Schumacher; 11. Brittany Force; 12.  Antron Brown; 13.  Steve Faria; 14.  Dave Connolly; 15.  Terry McMillen; 16. Troy Buff.

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

PRO STOCK: 1.  Erica Enders-Stevens; 2.  Vincent Nobile; 3.  Greg Anderson; 4.  Allen Johnson; 5.  Jason Line; 6.  Chris McGaha; 7.  Jimmy Alund; 8.  V. Gaines; 9.  Rodger Brogdon; 10.  Drew Skillman; 11. Shane Gray; 12.  Deric Kramer; 13.  Joey Grose; 14.  Larry Morgan; 15.  Jonathan Gray; 16.  Matt Hartford.

FINAL RESULTS:

Top Fuel — Richie Crampton, 3.902 seconds, 301.33 mph  def. Larry Dixon, 4.466 seconds, 201.73 mph.

Funny Car — John Force, Chevy Camaro, 4.148, 312.35  def. Robert Hight, Chevrolet Camaro, 4.154, 306.05.

Pro Stock — Erica Enders-Stevens, Chevy Camaro, 6.674, 207.24  def. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.674, 207.91.

FINAL ROUND-BY-ROUND RESULTS:

TOP FUEL: ROUND ONE — Richie Crampton, 3.821, 322.27 def. Troy Buff, 5.346, 128.58; Spencer Massey, 3.796, 328.78 def. Doug Kalitta, 3.807, 322.65; Larry Dixon, 3.795, 318.09 def. Tony Schumacher, 3.828, 319.29; J.R. Todd, 3.825, 320.81 def. Steve Faria, 3.957, 307.02; Steve Torrence, 3.837, 320.81 def. Terry McMillen, 4.022, 304.12; Shawn Langdon, 3.866, 305.84 def. Antron Brown, 3.901, 310.77; Clay Millican, 3.815, 315.12 def. Brittany Force, 3.846, 323.66; Dom Lagana, 3.866, 286.25 def. Dave Connolly, 4.004, 261.27; QUARTERFINALS — Todd, 3.916, 308.64 def. Lagana, 9.168, 73.27; Crampton, 3.838, 315.78 def. Torrence, 3.899, 301.81; Dixon, 3.889, 318.77 def. Millican, 3.984, 311.05; Massey, 3.858, 324.98 def. Langdon, 3.957, 304.74; SEMIFINALS — Dixon, 4.402, 247.93 def. Massey, 5.496, 126.23; Crampton, 3.828, 318.32 def. Todd, 3.837, 321.73; FINAL — Crampton, 3.902, 301.33 def. Dixon, 4.466, 201.73.

FUNNY CAR: ROUND ONE — Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 4.114, 308.99 def. Jeff Arend, Charger, 4.439, 212.39; Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.106, 309.20 def. Gary Densham, Chevy Impala, 4.243, 299.53; Del Worsham, Toyota Camry, 4.110, 312.71 def. Tony Pedregon, Camry, 4.211, 291.95; Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 4.093, 305.01 def. Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.138, 299.00; Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 4.115, 301.40 def. Courtney Force, Chevy Camaro, 4.165, 304.12; Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 4.080, 314.53 def. John Hale, Charger, 5.661, 124.28; Robert Hight, Chevrolet Camaro, 4.087, 312.50 def. Ron Capps, Charger, 4.156, 305.08; John Force, Camaro, 4.138, 312.57 def. Chad Head, Camry, DQ; QUARTERFINALS — J. Force, 4.158, 314.17 def. Hagan, 4.436, 296.89; DeJoria, 5.852, 239.06 def. Worsham, 5.885, 160.61; Hight, 4.102, 311.99 def. C. Pedregon, 8.806, 86.34; Johnson Jr., 4.093, 302.89 def. Wilkerson, DQ; SEMIFINALS — J. Force, 4.165, 312.35 def. DeJoria, 12.689, 70.85; Hight, 4.145, 310.34 def. Johnson Jr., 4.164, 305.56; FINAL — J. Force, 4.148, 312.35 def. Hight, 4.154, 306.05.

PRO STOCK: ROUND ONE — Allen Johnson, Dodge Dart, 6.699, 206.20 def. Drew Skillman, Chevy Camaro, 6.679, 206.99; Jimmy Alund, Pontiac GXP, 6.695, 206.42 def. Larry Morgan, Camaro, 12.972, 65.81; V. Gaines, Dart, 6.690, 207.18 def. Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.687, 207.05; Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.677, 207.18 def. Rodger Brogdon, Camaro, 6.669, 207.53; Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.650, 208.49 def. Jonathan Gray, Camaro, 21.940, 25.94; Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.656, 206.83 def. Deric Kramer, Dodge Avenger, 6.742, 205.35; Jason Line, Camaro, 6.672, 207.75 def. Joey Grose, Camaro, foul; Erica Enders-Stevens, Camaro, 6.654, 207.62 def. Matt Hartford, GXP, broke; QUARTERFINALS — Johnson, 6.716, 205.44 def. Line, foul; Nobile, 6.684, 206.73 def. McGaha, 6.686, 206.35; Enders-Stevens, 6.661, 207.27 def. Alund, 6.697, 206.70; Anderson, 6.655, 208.17 def. Gaines, 21.477, no speed; SEMIFINALS — Nobile, 6.695, 207.62 def. Johnson, 17.215, 68.60; Enders-Stevens, 6.673, 207.53 def. Anderson, 6.671, 208.71; FINAL — Enders-Stevens, 6.674, 207.24 def. Nobile, 6.674, 207.91.

POINTS STANDINGS:

Top Fuel: 1.  Antron Brown, 385; 2.  Tony Schumacher, 375; 3.  Shawn Langdon, 370; 4.  Spencer Massey, 358; 5.  Richie Crampton, 349; 6.  Steve Torrence, 273; 7.  Doug Kalitta, 272; 8.  Larry Dixon, 263; 9. J.R. Todd, 261; 10.  Clay Millican, 241.

Funny Car: 1.  Matt Hagan, 369; 2.  Del Worsham, 360; 3.  Robert Hight, 323; 4.  Tommy Johnson Jr., 316; 5. Ron Capps, 313; 6.  John Force, 287; 7.  Alexis DeJoria, 271; 8.  Cruz Pedregon, 257; 9.  John Hale, 256; 10.  Jack Beckman, 249.

Pro Stock: 1.  Jason Line, 426; 2.  Erica Enders-Stevens, 391; 3.  Greg Anderson, 379; 4.  Rodger Brogdon, 352; 5.  Chris McGaha, 338; 6.  Drew Skillman, 300; 7.  Vincent Nobile, 285; 8.  Larry Morgan, 268; 9.  Allen Johnson, 249; 10.  Shane Gray, 233.

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2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona: Schedule, TV info, start times, entry lists, notable drivers, more

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The new year brings the start of a new era for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, which will open the 2023 schedule with the 61st running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

A new premier class for prototypes is the overriding story entering the 24-hour endurance race that unofficially kicks off the major-league racing season.

The new Le Mans Daytona hybrid (LMDh) cars of the Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) top category will re-establish a bridge to the 24 Hours of Le Mans while bringing a new layer of engine electrification to IMSA.

With at least a few of the cars on the grid at Daytona also slated to race at Le Mans in June, it’s possible for the first time in decades (since the “Ford vs. Ferrari” battles) to have the same car win the overall title at Daytona and Le Mans.

The GTP category will feature four manufacturers, two of which are new to IMSA’s premier division. Porsche Motorsport (with Team Penske) and BMW (with Rahal Letterman Lanigan) will be fielding LMDh prototypes, joining (now-defunct) DPi category holdovers Acura (Meyer Shank Racing, Wayne Taylor Racing) and Cadillac (Chip Ganassi Racing, Action Express Racing).

Here’s what else you need to know ahead of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season opener Jan. 29-30 at Daytona International Speedway:


NOTABLE DRIVER ADDITIONS 

The Rolex 24 will feature 10 active drivers from the NTT IndyCar Series, including the IMSA debuts of Team Penske drivers Josef Newgarden and Scott McLaughlin, who will be teamed in an LMP2 entry (teammate Will Power unfortunately had to withdraw from this debut).

Colton Herta will move into the GTP category with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. Helio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud return with Meyer Shank Racing to defend their overall 2022 Rolex 24 victory. Scott Dixon also returns in the premier category with Chip Ganassi Racing for his 20th Rolex 24 start and third consecutive in the No. 01 Cadillac.

Other IndyCar drivers in the field: Romain Grosjean will make his debut in GTD Pro with Iron Lynx Racing (as a precursor to driving a GTP Lamborghini next year); Devlin DeFrancesco (Rick Ware Racing) and Rinus VeeKay (TDS Racing) are in LMP2; and Kyle Kirkwood will return in GTD with Vasser Sullivan.

Daytona 500 winner Austin Cindric also will return, teaming with DeFrancesco in an LMP2 entry for Rick Ware Racing.


CAR COUNT

The Rolex 24 field was capped at 61 cars, matching last year’s field (which was the largest since 2014). The field was capped because of the space limitations for the LMDh cars of GTP in the pits and garages.

Click here for the official 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona entry list.


STARTING LINEUP

Tom Blomqvist captured the first pole position of the GTP era, qualifying defending race winner Meyer Shank Racing in first with the No. 60 ARX-06 Acura that he shares with Colin Braun, Helio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud.

The No. 7 Porsche 963 of Porsche Penske Motorsports will start second.

Click here for the 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona starting lineup


RACE BROADCAST

The 61st Rolex 24 at Daytona will be streamed across the NBC Sports AppNBCSports.com and Peacock, which will have coverage of the event from flag to flag.

Broadcast coverage of the race coverage will begin Saturday, Jan. 28 at 1:30 p.m. ET on NBC and move to USA Network from 2:30-8 p.m. and then will be exclusively on Peacock and IMSA.TV from 8-10 p.m. Coverage will return to USA Network from 10 p.m. to midnight and then move to Peacock/IMSA.TV until 6 a.m.

From 6 a.m. until noon on Sunday, Jan. 29, Rolex 24 coverage will be available on USA Network. The conclusion of the Rolex 24 will run from noon through 2 p.m. on NBC.

HOW TO WATCH IMSA ON NBC SPORTS: Broadcast schedule for 2023

Other events that will be streamed on Peacock from Daytona during January (all times ET):

Jan. 21: IMSA VP Racing Sports Car Challenge, 2:05 p.m.

Jan. 22: IMSA VP Racing Sports Car Challenge, 12:20 p.m.

Jan. 22: IMSA Rolex 24 qualifying, 1:25 p.m.

Jan. 27: BMW Endurance Michelin Pilot Challenge, 1:45 p.m.


ROLEX 24 COVERAGE FROM NBC SPORTS

Wayne Taylor Racing takes a step up to the next level with Andretti Autosport

Austin Cindric seeks to join legendary club of Rolex 24-Daytona 500 winners

Helio Castroneves recalls “Days of Thunder” moment in 2022 Rolex 24 victory

The “Bus Bros” tackle the “Bus Stop” for Rolex 24 at Daytona debuts

Romain Grosjean adds Rolex 24 at Daytona to his crown jewel career

Tom Blomqvist beats the clock to win Rolex 24 at Daytona pole position

GTP cars make debut in “Gymkhana”-level traffic

Five things to watch in the new GTP class as a golden era of sports cars returns

Cadillac unveils paint schemes for LMDh cars

Austin Cindric, Devlin DeFrancesco, Pietro Fittipaldi teaming up in LMP2

IndyCar drivers in the 61st Rolex 24


ROLEX 24 DAILY SCHEDULE, START TIMES

Here’s a rundown of everything happening at Daytona International Speedway over the last two weeks in January, starting with the Roar test session. Rolex 24 start times and full schedule:

Wednesday, Jan. 18

7 a.m.: GTP garages open

4 p.m.: Non-GTP garages open

4 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship haulers load-in (park only)

6:30 p.m.: Non-GTP garages close

9:30 p.m.: GTP garages close

Thursday, Jan. 19

7 a.m.: Garages, IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship haulers open

8:30 a.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship safety inspection

10 a.m.: Rolex 24 Media Day

2 p.m.: Michelin Pilot Challenge driver and team manager briefing

3 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship driver and team manager briefing

5:15 p.m.: Track walk

7:30 p.m.: Non-GTP garages close

9:30 p.m.: GTP garages close

Friday, Jan. 20

7 a.m.: Garages open

8:45-9:15 a.m.: VP Racing SportsCar Challenge practice

9:30-10:45 a.m.: Michelin Pilot Challenge practice

11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

1:45-2:15 p.m.: VP Racing SportsCar Challenge practice

2:30-4 p.m.: Michelin Pilot Challenge practice

4:15-6 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice (GTD/LMP3/LMP2 4:15-5:45; 4:30-6: GTD Pro, GTP)

8 p.m.: Non-GTP garages close

9:30 p.m.: GTP garages close

Saturday, Jan. 21

7 a.m.: Garages open

8:40-9:15 a.m.: VP Racing SportsCar Challenge qualifying

9:30-11 a.m.: Michelin Pilot Challenge practice

11:15 a.m.-12:45 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

2:05-2:50 p.m.: VP Racing SportsCar Challenge, Race 1 (streaming on Peacock)

3:10 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

4:30-5:30 p.m.: Michelin Pilot Challenge practice

6:30-8:30 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

10 p.m.: Garages close

Sunday, Jan. 22

7 a.m.: Garages open

10:15-11:15 a.m.: Michelin Pilot Challenge practice

12:20-1:05 p.m.: VP Racing SportsCar Challenge, Race 2 (streaming on Peacock)

1:25-3 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Rolex 24 qualifying (streaming on Peacock)

8:30 p.m.: Garages close

Wednesday, Jan. 25

6 a.m.: Garages open

7:30-10 a.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship safety inspection, non-GTP

8 a.m.: Mazda MX-5 load-in

10-11:30 a.m.: Track walk

10 a.m.-noon: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship car photos

11:30 a.m.: Michelin Pilot Challenge team manager briefing

Noon: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship team manager briefing

12:30 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship new driver briefing

Noon-2 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship safety and technical inspection, non-GTP

1:45-2:30 p.m.: Mazda MX-5 practice

2:45-3:45 p.m.: Michelin Pilot Challenge practice

2:30-7:30 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship safety inspection, GTP only

4-5:30 p.m.: Track walk

6:45 p.m.: Garages close

Thursday, Jan. 26

7 a.m.: Garages open

9-9:30 a.m.: Mazda MX-5 practice

9:45-10:45 a.m.: Michelin Pilot Challenge practice

11:05 a.m.-12:35 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

12:55-1:10 p.m.: Mazda MX-5 qualifying

2:25-3 p.m.: Michelin Pilot Challenge qualifying

3:20-5:05 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice (3:20-5:05: GTD, LMP3, LMP2; 3:35-5:05: GTD Pro, GTP)

5:30-6:15 p.m.: Mazda MX-5, Race 1

7:15-9 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

10:15 p.m.: Garages close

Friday, Jan. 27

7 a.m.: Garages open

9:25-9:55 a.m.: Michelin Pilot Challenge practice

10:15-11 a.m.: Mazda MX-5, Race 2

10:30 a.m.: Michelin Pilot Challenge driver and team manager briefing

11:20 a.m.-12:20 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

1:45-5:45 p.m.: BMW M Endurance Challenge at Daytona (Michelin Pilot Challenge; streaming on Peacock)

8:45 p.m.: Garages close

Saturday, Jan. 28

6:30 a.m.: Garages open

9:45 a.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship driver and team manager briefing

12:30-12:40 p.m.: Rolex 24 engine warmup

1:30-1:40 p.m.: Rolex 24 formation laps

1:40 p.m.: The 61st Rolex 24 at Daytona (starting on NBC; streaming flag to flag on Peacock)

Sunday, Jan. 29

1:40 p.m.: Finish of the 61st Rolex 24 at Daytona

7:30 p.m.: Garages close