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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IMSA Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta: How to watch, start times, schedule, entry list

AUTO: NOV 13 IMSA - Motul Petit Le Mans
David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Start times, TV schedule: The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will conclude the 2022 season this weekend with the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta, which also will mark the end of the line for the DPi class.

The premier Daytona Prototype international category, which started in 2017, will be replaced by the new Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class with its LMDh cars that will establish a bridge to Le Mans.

For the third time in four years, an Acura will be crowned the champion in DPi as the No. 10 of Wayne Taylor Racing holds a 19-point edge over the No. 60 of Meyer Shank Racing.

Last year, WTR’s No. 10 entered the season finale with a 19-point lead but lost the title to the No. 31 Cadillac of Action Express.

Full-time WTR drivers Filipe Albuquerque and Ricky Taylor (who will be joined by Brendon Hartley in the No. 10 this weekend) have a series-leading four victories this season. The MSR duo of Tom Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves this weekend) won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and have five runner-up finishes this year.

Championship scenarios in the other four categories:

GTD Pro: Points leaders Matt Campbell and Mathieu Jaminet will clinch the title by starting in their No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.

–GTD: There are 140 points separating the top four teams with Roman De Angelis and the No. 27 Heart of Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT3 leading by 45 points.

–LMP2: John Farano is first in the driver standings by 33 points over Dwight Merriman and Ryan Dalziel. In the team standings, the No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports leads by 19 points over the No. 8 Tower Motorsport (Farano’s team).

–LMP3: No. 54 CORE autosport drivers Jon Bennett and Colin Braun lead by 83 points over the No. 74 Riley Motorsports of Gar Robinson.

With the 10-hour race requiring an extra driver, several stars from other racing series have been added. In addition to Castroneves, Scott Dixon and Ryan Hunter-Reay will serve as third drivers in Chip Ganassi Racing’s pair of Cadillacs.

Jimmie Johnson also will be making his last DPi start in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac with Mike Rockenfeller and Kamui Kobayashi. Petit Le Mans could mark the last start in an IMSA prototype for Johnson, who has said limited inventory likely will keep him out of the GTP category in the Rolex 24 next year.

Here are the start times, starting lineup, schedule and TV info for the IMSA Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta (all times are ET):

Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta start times, schedule, TV info

When: Saturday, 12:10 p.m. ET

Race distance: Ten hours on the 12-turn, 2.54-mile road course

TV: Noon-3 p.m., NBC; 3-10:30 p.m., USA Network. Peacock, the NBC Sports App,and NBCSports.com will have streaming coverage of the event from flag to flag beginning at noon. Leigh Diffey and Dave Burns are the play by play announcers with analysts Calvin Fish, Townsend Bell, James Hinchcliffe and Brian Till. The pit reporters are Kevin Lee, Hannah Newhouse, Dillon Welch and Matt Yocum.

IMSA.com live TV qualifying stream: Friday, 3:35 p.m. ET.

IMSA Radio: All sessions are live on IMSA.com and RadioLeMans.com; SiriusXM live race coverage will begin Saturday at noon (XM 207, Internet/App 992).

Forecast: According to Wunderground.com, it’s expected to be 63 degrees with an 85% chance of rain at the green flag.

Entry list: Click here to see the 48-car field for the IMSA Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta

Daily schedule IMSA Petit Le Mans

Here’s a rundown of the Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia:

Wednesday, Sept. 28

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

10:25 a.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup

12:30 p.m.: Prototype Challenge practice

1:15 p.m.: Mazda MX-5 practcice

2 p.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup practice

3:30 p.m.: Michelin Challenge practice

Thursday, Sept. 29

8 a.m.: Prototype Challenge practice

9 a.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup qualifying

9:50 a.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

11:40 a.m.: Prototype Challenge qualifying

12:10 p.m.: Michelin Challenge practice

1:50 p.m.: Mazda MX-5, Race 1

2:55 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

5 p.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup, Race 1

6 p.m.: Michelin Challenge qualifying

7:30 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

Friday, Sept. 30

8 a.m.: Prototype Challenge race

9:50 a.m.: Mazda MX-5, Race 2

10:55 a.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup, Race 2

1:10 p.m.: IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race

3:40 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship qualifying

Saturday, Oct. 1

9:15 a.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

12:10 p.m.: Petit Le Mans