NHRA family plan: John, Brittany Force eye titles

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You might say there’s a bit of a power battle going on in the Force family.

In one corner, it’s Brute Force – otherwise known as 16-time NHRA Funny Car champion John Force.

And in the other corner, it’s Brit Force – otherwise known as Top Fuel driver Brittany Force.

Thus far, daughter has a slight edge performance-wise over father, as each battles to win the championship in their respective Nitro class this season.

Following this past weekend’s AAA Insurance Midwest Nationals outside St. Louis, Brittany Force made a big jump upward in the Top Fuel rankings in the six-race Countdown to the Championship.

With two races down and four to go to win the title, Brittany Force is No. 4 in Top Fuel, and just four points out of third place.

She bounced back Sunday, reaching the semi-finals, after being ousted in the first round of the opening Countdown race two weeks ago at Charlotte.

“The entire Monster Energy team (came) together this this weekend in St Louis,” Brittany Force said in a team media release. “We struggled last weekend just to get the car down the track but this weekend we went down the track every single run.

“We made it to the semi-finals and that is a pretty good weekend for us.”

Next up for Force is this weekend’s event at Maple Grove Raceway, in Reading, Pa., where she finished runner-up in last year’s race there.

“We are going to get after it in Reading,” Force said.

The younger Force has made up some substantial ground in the last two races of the 18-race regular season and the first two races of the six-race Countdown.

In that period, she has one runner-up finish and two additional semi-final showings, allowing her to climb from ninth place in the standings to her present position in fourth.

While Brittany is still 163 points behind Top Fuel leader Antron Brown, things can take a dramatic change in any of the four remaining races. If, for example, Force wins her first career national event, she could significantly close the gap on Brown rather quickly.

Then there’s Brittany’s father, John. He left Gateway still ranked fifth in the Funny Car standings, having lost in the quarter-finals to defending series champion Matt Hagan.

The elder Force is seeking to extend his record 16 Funny Car championships to 17, especially after the way he came so close last season before coming up short to Hagan in the season-ending race at Pomona, Calif.

“If you look at the leaps and jumps in performance we have made in making these cars faster we are right there,” John Force said. “When other teams run in the threes (seconds), we are right there in the threes with them.

“We aren’t on their pace yet but it isn’t just one team you look out there – there are four or five teams running in the threes and we are right in the mix. We have four races left and we need those Chevrolet engineers to keep working with us.”

John Force has two wins thus far in 2015. A third win, especially at a place like Maple Grove, would go a long way towards closing the 149-point deficit between Force and Funny Car points leader Del Worsham.

“The Funny Cars are running together like Pro Stock. A lot of it is made up on the starting line. I am working on my own reaction times. I am just working on getting better. The key is we have four races and there are a lot of rounds still out there. We’ll see what happens.”


TOP FUEL: 1. Antron Brown, 2320; 2. Tony Schumacher, 2243; 3. Larry Dixon, 2161; 4. Brittany Force, 2157; 5. JR Todd, 2149; 6. Doug Kalitta, 2139; 7. Richie Crampton, 2133; 8. Shawn Langdon, 2126; 9. Steve Torrence, 2127; 9. Dave Connolly, 2127.


FUNNY CAR: 1. Del Worsham, 2327; 2. Matt Hagan, 2237; 3. Tommy Johnson Jr, 2211; 4. Jack Beckman, 2208; 5. John Force, 2178; 6. Ron Capps, 2177; 7. Alexis DeJoria, 2123; 8. Cruz Pedregon, 2116; 9. Tim Wilkerson, 2107; 10. Robert Hight, 2099.


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Kyle Larson wins third consecutive High Limit Sprint race at Eagle Raceway, Rico Abreu second again

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It took four attempts for Kyle Larson to win his first High Limit Sprint Car Series race in the series he co-owns with brother-in-law Brad Sweet, but once he found victory lane, he has been undefeated with his win at Eagle (Nebraska) Raceway. For the second week, Abreu led early only to fall prey to Larson.

The win was Larson’s third straight victory and the fifth consecutive top-five, giving him a perfect sweep of the season after finishing 10th in last year’s inaugural race at Lincoln Park Speedway in Putnamville, Indiana.

Larson started third behind Abreu and Brent Marks but was embroiled in a fierce battle with Anthony Macri for third during the first dozen laps. Larson slipped by Macri in traffic until a red flag waved for a flip by Lachlan McHugh.

Meanwhile at the front of the pack, Marks retook the lead from Abreu on Lap 18. Larson followed one lap later and then caution waved again. Tyler Courtney lost power and fell to 24th after starting eighth.

Marks scooted away on the restart but tragedy struck in Lap 26. Leading the race, Marks hit a pothole in Turn 1, bicycled and then flipped, handing the lead to Larson.

Abreu caught Larson again during the final laps and in a reprise of their battle at Tri-City Speedway, the two threw sliders at one another for several laps until Larson built some separation and ran away to the checkers.

“I didn’t feel like my pace in [Turns] 1 & 2 slowed down a ton,” Larson said from victory lane. “I missed it once there and then I saw his nose in 3 & 4. I didn’t know if he nailed the bottom that well behind me and I think he might have slid me in the next corner, so he was definitely on the top.

“I was nervous to move up there because my car was really pogoing up in the entry of 1. I got up just in time, made a few mistakes and he threw a couple more sliders at me but he was just a little too far back and I was able to squirt around him. Then I really had to commit to hitting my marks – back my effort down a bit to avoid mistakes.”

After leading early, Abreu fell back as far as sixth, but faith in his car kept hope alive.

“I just needed to do a few things a few laps before I did and fix some angles, then my car got a whole lot better,” Abreu said. “I’m thankful for this team; they do an amazing job. They don’t give up on me. I know my car is going to be there right at the end of these races, so it’s just the discipline of being patient.”

For Abreu, it was his third near-miss this season. He was leading at Lakeside in the 2023 opener until a tire went flat in the closing laps and he lost the lead to Larson late in the Tri-City Speedway race. Abreu has finished sixth or better in his last three High Limit races with each result being progressively better until his pair of runner-up results.

Third-place finisher Scelzi was the hard charger, advancing from 17th.

“I had a very specific plan; don’t go near [the hole in Turn 1],” Scelzi said. “It worked out. No one wanted to start on the top. I think I gained a couple of rows there on the choose cone and ran the middle, which seemed to be better than right around the bottom.”

Michael “Buddy” Kofoid in fourth and Macri rounded out the top five.

World of Outlaws star and former NASCAR driver Kasey Kahne was one of 41 entrants, but he was not among the 26 starters. He failed to advance to the Main after finishing eighth in the B Main and seventh in his heat.

Feature Results

A Feature (40 Laps): 1. 57-Kyle Larson[4]; 2. 24-Rico Abreu[1]; 3. 18-Giovanni Scelzi[17]; 4. 71-Michael Kofoid[5]; 5. 39M-Anthony Macri[3]; 6. 9-Chase Randall[9]; 7. 26-Zeb Wise[14]; 8. 1X-Jake Bubak[15]; 9. 8-Aaron Reutzel[10]; 10. 14D-Corey Day[18]; 11. 11-Cory Eliason[12]; 12. 5T-Ryan Timms[11]; 13. 88-Austin McCarl[13]; 14. 21H-Brady Bacon[22]; 15. 48-Danny Dietrich[16]; 16. 7S-Robbie Price[19]; 17. 21-Brian Brown[23]; 18. 22-Riley Goodno[26]; 19. 52-Blake Hahn[25]; 20. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr[21]; 21. 3J-Dusty Zomer[6]; 22. 14-Cole Macedo[7]; 23. 19-Brent Marks[2]; 24. 7BC-Tyler Courtney[8]; 25. 25-Lachlan McHugh[20]; 26. 53-Jack Dover[24]

2023 High Limit Sprint Car Series

Race 1: Giovanni Scelzi wins at Lakeside Speedway
Race2: Anthony Macri wins at 34 Raceway
Race 3: Kyle Larson wins at Wayne County Speedway
Race 4: Kyle Larson wins at Tri-City Speedway