NHRA Gatornationals: Brittany Force earns 1st career Top Fuel win, Hight wins Funny Car

(Photo courtesy NHRA)
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It was a show of Force in Sunday’s final eliminations of the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals in Gainesville, Florida.

John Force Racing captured both the Top Fuel and Funny Car titles, while Greg Anderson captured Pro Stock and Eddie Krawiec was tops in Pro Stock Motorcycle.

Brittany Force earned her first career Top Fuel win and, in so doing, jumped to the top of the Top Fuel point standings, as well.

Force (3.772 seconds at 318.77 mph) held off Terry McMillen (3.981 at 266.90) in the final round to claim her first victory in eight final round appearances (including three weeks ago at Phoenix).

The daughter of 16-time NHRA Funny Car champion John Force, Brittany Force becomes the first female Top Fuel driver to appear in back-to-back finals since Melanie Troxel in 2006. Force qualified No. 5 and defeated Morgan Lucas, Tripp Tatum and Dave Connolly before stopping McMillen in the final. It was McMillen’s first career final round in Top Fuel.

“It feels good to finally bring home the win,” Force said, according to an NHRA media release. “Our car was on fire all weekend.

“It went down there and had great runs. This is a very proud moment for me and the John Force Racing team, the Monster Energy team. It took everyone to get us here.”

Brittany Force’s win marks the first time since 1990 that female Top Fuel drivers have won back-to-back races. Leah Pritchett won three weeks ago at Phoenix.

In addition, with Pritchett’s win at Phoenix and Force’s win at Gainesville, it marks the first time there have been back-to-back first-time winners in the Top Fuel class since 1993.

Also of note, 83-year-old Top Fuel driver Chris Karamesines roared to one of the best finishes he’s enjoyed in years, finishing sixth in Sunday’s eliminations.

JFR continued its dominance of the weekend with Hight taking his first win of the 2016 season and 37th victory of his Funny Car career. Hight (4.429 seconds at 280.95 mph) held off Ron Capps (7.047 at 89.05) for the win.

Hight, who qualified third and passed Terry Haddock, Matt Hagan and Chad Head in the first three rounds of the day, also passed by Capps to take the lead in the Funny Car point standings.

“We’ve had a great race car the first two races, so we actually felt that we let a couple slip by that we actually could have won,” Hight said. “To come in here and actually get it done, and get it done with Brittany, both of us leaving with the points lead, man it doesn’t get any better than this. It’s been a lot of hard work and it’s finally paying off.”

In Pro Stock, Anderson (6.590 seconds at 210.01 mph) won his second race of the season, defeating teammate and points leader Jason Line (6.581 at 210.57).

Anderson defeated V. Gaines, Jeg Coughlin, Allen Johnson and Line to capture the win. It was the third time in as many events that Anderson and Line have combined to win the first three Pro Stock events this season.

“The whole weekend was great for KB Racing,” Anderson said. “These races are not decided on paper, they’re decided on the racetrack every time.

“We are human and things happen different on the starting line. Somehow, I overachieved in the final and stole a victory from Jason. Good for me, but it’s still great for KB Racing. No matter had happened in the final round, it was a victory for the team. I can’t be prouder of the race team I’m on.”

In Pro Stock Motorcycle, No. 1 qualifier Krawiec (6.820 seconds at 198.23 mph) held off Hector Arana (6.920 at 196.44). to capture his fourth career win at Gainesville and the 32nd win of his PSM career.

Krawiec, who qualified No. 1, defeated Michael Phillips, Jerry Savoie and teammate and defending series champ Andrew Hines to reach the final round matchup with Arana.

“Going out there I had a great motorcycle,” Krawiec said. “I have a great crew behind me, but the key thing for me was to not screw it up.

“You have the first round jitters after four months of not racing, but I knew I had a fast motorcycle. We’re all really excited, everybody back at our shop. We’re glad one of our Harley-Davidsons got the win.”

The NHRA’s next race, the fourth of 24 scheduled events, will be April 1-3, in the Denso Spark Plugs NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

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FINAL FINISHING ORDER:

TOP FUEL: 1.  Brittany Force; 2.  Terry McMillen; 3.  Dave Connolly; 4.  Clay Millican; 5.  Tripp Tatum; 6.  Chris Karamesines; 7.  J.R. Todd; 8.  Tony Schumacher; 9.  Morgan Lucas; 10.  Steve Torrence; 11.  Ike Maier; 12.  Leah Pritchett; 13.  Doug Kalitta; 14.  Shawn Langdon; 15.  Richie Crampton; 16.  Antron Brown.

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

PRO STOCK: 1.  Greg Anderson; 2.  Jason Line; 3.  Drew Skillman; 4.  Allen Johnson; 5.  Bo Butner; 6.  Alex Laughlin; 7.  Vincent Nobile; 8.  Jeg Coughlin; 9.  Erica Enders; 10.  V. Gaines; 11.  Matt Hartford; 12.  John Gaydosh Jr; 13.  Shane Gray; 14.  Chris McGaha; 15.  Kenny Delco.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: 1.  Eddie Krawiec; 2.  Hector Arana; 3.  Andrew Hines; 4.  LE Tonglet; 5.  Chip Ellis; 6.  Jerry Savoie; 7.  Jim Underdahl; 8.  Michael Ray; 9.  Steve Johnson; 10.  Scotty Pollacheck; 11.  Melissa Surber; 12.  Michael Phillips; 13.  Angelle Sampey; 14.  Mike Berry; 15.  Angie Smith; 16.  Hector Arana Jr.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

FINAL ROUND RESULTS:

Top Fuel: Brittany Force, 3.772 seconds, 318.77 mph  def. Terry McMillen, 3.981 seconds, 266.90 mph.

Funny Car: Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 4.429, 280.95  def. Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, Foul – Centerline.

Pro Stock: Greg Anderson, Chevy Camaro, 6.598, 210.01  def. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.581, 210.57.

Pro Stock Motorcycle: Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.820, 198.23  def. Hector Arana, Buell, 6.920, 196.44.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

FINAL ROUND-BY-ROUND RESULTS:

TOP FUEL:

ROUND ONE — Chris Karamesines, 4.039, 276.92 def. Richie Crampton, 7.583, 94.22; Clay Millican, 3.757, 324.28 def. Ike Maier, 3.920, 297.02; Terry McMillen, 3.850, 310.34 def. Antron Brown, 9.021, 75.74; Tripp Tatum, 3.866, 315.42 def. Leah Pritchett, 4.446, 213.03; Brittany Force, 3.739, 319.45 def. Morgan Lucas, 3.770, 316.75; Tony Schumacher, 4.229, 244.69 def. Shawn Langdon, 6.745, 113.40; J.R. Todd, 3.751, 324.36 def. Steve Torrence, 3.781, 324.05; Dave Connolly, 3.758, 323.27 def. Doug Kalitta, 4.575, 177.09;

QUARTERFINALS — McMillen, 3.945, 305.49 def. Schumacher, 8.115, 87.22; Connolly, 3.839, 307.44 def. Karamesines, 4.018, 299.33; Millican, 3.911, 303.30 def. Todd, 4.155, 252.05; Force, 3.808, 311.05 def. Tatum, 3.890, 320.05;

SEMIFINALS — McMillen, 3.828, 313.66 def. Millican, 6.537, 94.25; Force, 3.729, 323.89 def. Connolly, 3.861, 305.36;

FINAL — Force, 3.772, 318.77 def. McMillen, 3.981, 266.90.

 

FUNNY CAR:

ROUND ONE — Cruz Pedregon, Toyota Camry, 4.513, 198.52 def. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 10.459, 87.64; Robert Hight, Chevy Camaro, 3.973, 324.67 def. Terry Haddock, Toyota Solara, 4.206, 291.82; Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger, 3.919, 324.90 def. Jeff Diehl, Solara, 12.641, 77.99; Courtney Force, Camaro, 3.958, 318.99 def. Dave Richards, Mustang, 4.680, 181.25; Ron Capps, Charger, 4.059, 314.02 def. John Hale, Charger, 4.101, 308.43; Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.966, 316.82 def. Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 3.992, 312.28; Chad Head, Camry, 3.991, 318.92 def. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.020, 313.73; John Force, Camaro, 4.000, 322.81 def. Del Worsham, Camry, 4.474, 213.06;

QUARTERFINALS — Hight, 3.969, 324.12 def. Hagan, 4.192, 239.82; Beckman, 8.061, 74.61 def. J. Force, Foul – Red Light; Head, 3.967, 318.62 def. C. Force, 3.992, 322.81; Capps, 4.002, 314.90 def. Pedregon, 4.584, 186.20;

SEMIFINALS — Capps, 6.151, 194.80 def. Beckman, Broke; Hight, 3.969, 323.04 def. Head, 4.030, 313.37;

FINAL — Hight, 4.429, 280.95 def. Capps, Foul – Centerline.

 

PRO STOCK:

ROUND ONE — Vincent Nobile, Chevy Camaro, 6.677, 208.46 def. Shane Gray, Camaro, 7.205, 150.13; Allen Johnson, Dodge Dart, 6.634, 208.97 def. Erica Enders, Dart, 6.639, 208.65; Jeg Coughlin, Dart, 6.632, 209.14 def. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 7.458, 140.77; Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.619, 209.79 def. Kenny Delco, Camaro, Foul – Red Light; Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.581, 210.28 def. V. Gaines, Dart, 6.656, 208.78; Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.594, 209.88 def. John Gaydosh Jr, Chevrolet Camaro, 6.748, 206.20; Jason Line, Camaro, 6.562, 210.87 was unopposed; Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.599, 208.75 def. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.701, 208.07;

QUARTERFINALS — Skillman, 6.693, 208.42 def. Laughlin, 6.848, 206.89; Johnson, 6.675, 208.04 def. Butner, 6.637, 209.26; Anderson, 6.621, 209.75 def. Coughlin, 12.830, 91.11; Line, 6.594, 210.57 def. Nobile, 7.039, 159.42;

SEMIFINALS — Anderson, 6.596, 209.98 def. Johnson, 6.646, 208.59; Line, 6.584, 210.41 def. Skillman, 6.640, 208.30;

FINAL — Anderson, 6.598, 210.01 def. Line, 6.581, 210.57.

 

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE:

ROUND ONE — Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.854, 197.39 def. Scotty Pollacheck, Buell, 6.901, 192.30; Hector Arana, Buell, 6.820, 196.39 def. Mike Berry, Buell, 6.958, 192.58; Chip Ellis, Buell, 6.855, 195.31 def. Hector Arana Jr, Buell, 7.132, 189.92; LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.846, 195.51 def. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.895, 193.96; Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 6.867, 196.85 def. Angelle Sampey, Buell, Foul – Red Light; Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.852, 196.10 def. Angie Smith, 7.034, 191.16; Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.780, 198.12 def. Michael Phillips, Suzuki, 6.955, 194.16; Michael Ray, Buell, 6.901, 196.04 def. Melissa Surber, Buell, 6.931, 188.99;

QUARTERFINALS — Hines, 6.907, 196.27 def. Underdahl, 6.906, 196.70; Tonglet, 6.863, 196.73 def. Ellis, 6.871, 196.93; Arana, 6.879, 196.56 def. Ray, 6.931, 195.79; Krawiec, 6.791, 198.35 def. Savoie, 6.903, 190.35;

SEMIFINALS — Arana, 6.869, 196.44 def. Tonglet, 6.888, 195.00; Krawiec, 6.803, 197.31 def. Hines, 6.872, 195.53;

FINAL — Krawiec, 6.820, 198.23 def. Arana, 6.920, 196.44.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

POINT STANDINGS AFTER GAINESVILLE:

Top Fuel: 1.  Brittany Force, 251; 2.  Clay Millican, 210; 3.  Doug Kalitta, 205; 4.  Steve Torrence, 199; 5.  Terry McMillen, 178; 6.  Leah Pritchett, 166; 7.  J.R. Todd, 157; 8.  Tony Schumacher, 155; 9.  Richie Crampton, 153; 10.  Antron Brown, 149.

Funny Car: 1.  Robert Hight, 280; 2.  Ron Capps, 279; 3.  John Force, 221; 4.  Jack Beckman, 205; 5.  Courtney Force, 201; 6.  Del Worsham, 189; 7.  Tim Wilkerson, 183; 8.  Chad Head, 162; 9.  Alexis DeJoria, 119; 10.  Matt Hagan, 118.

Pro Stock: 1.  Jason Line, 337; 2.  Greg Anderson, 331; 3.  Bo Butner, 233; 4.  Drew Skillman, 205; 5.  Chris McGaha, 161; 6.  (tie) Jeg Coughlin, 160; Allen Johnson, 160; 8.  Vincent Nobile, 138; 9.  Alex Laughlin, 121; 10.  Erica Enders, 97.

Pro Stock Motorcycle: 1.  Eddie Krawiec, 129; 2.  Hector Arana, 99; 3.  Andrew Hines, 79; 4.  LE Tonglet, 74; 5.  Chip Ellis, 62; 6.  (tie) Michael Ray, 52; Jerry Savoie, 52; Jim Underdahl, 52; 9.  Angelle Sampey, 35; 10.  (tie) Scotty Pollacheck, 33. Melissa Surber, 33.

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Houston Supercross by the numbers: Five riders begin to gap the field

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Chase Sexton stumbled in San Diego and Eli Tomac had a hard fall in Anaheim 2, but the Monster Energy Supercross numbers for Houston suggest they will continue to be the ones to beat in Houston. To do so, they will have to turn back challenges from another pair of riders who have swept the top five in the first three rounds and another with a worst finish of sixth.

Houston Supercross numbers
Cooper Webb’s ability to close races makes him a Houston favorite. – Feld Motor Sports

Despite an accident in his heat in San Diego that sent him to the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ), Sexton recovered to score a top-five that weekend. His podium finish in Anaheim 1 and overall win last week in Anaheim 2 makes him one of the three riders with a perfect top-five record. He is joined by Cooper Webb, who finished second in the first two rounds and fourth last week, and Ken Roczen, whose consistency in the first three races contributed to him grabbing the top spot in this week’s NBC Supercross Power Rankings.

There are reasons to believe Webb and Roczen can keep those streaks alive.

Webb is the only multiple winner at Supercross’ current Houston stadium. His pair of wins came in 2019 and 2021, the same year he won his two 450 championships.

Clinton Fowler points out this week, that Webb has carried that strength into 2023. Webb had a late surge in Anaheim 1, advancing from fifth to second in the final six laps. In San Diego, he set his ninth fastest lap with two to go and his eighth fastest on the final lap. He posted his fastest lap of Anaheim 2 on Lap 12 while the rest of the field did so on Lap 6 on average.

By comparison, Tomac set his 14th fastest lap on the final circuit in route to winning the Main at San Diego while he was trying to keep Webb at bay.

With a sixth at San Diego, Dylan Ferrandis barely missed sweeping the top five in his first three races as did Tomac with a sixth last week at Anaheim 2.

This will be the 46th year Supercross has visited Houston and with 55 races the city is tied for the second-most with Detroit. Jim Pomeroy won the first race in the Astrodome in 1974. Webb won most recently in 2021 in the final race of three held there that year as the series executed a strategy of racing in residencies to limit travel during height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Tomac and Justin Barcia also won in Houston in 2021.

Two privateers have started the season on a high note.

Joshua Cartwright and Joshua Varize have each made the last two Mains. Cartwright finished 18th in San Diego and 21st last week in Anaheim 2 – all while working fulltime as a Business Intelligence Analyst at the University of Texas, Dallas. Varize earned a top-15 (12th) in San Diego and was 21st in Anaheim 2 in his third season on a 450.

Michael Mosiman scored his first 250 win last year in San Diego. – Feld Motor Sports

The numbers show none of the active 250 Supercross East riders have won in Houston, so no matter who steps on top of the box, there is going to be a fresh face. That is not surprising since most of the top competitors have not raced at this venue yet.

Michael Mosiman has a pair of top-fives there, however. His best finish was a second in the second 2021 race. Garrett Marchbanks scored a top-10 in his rookie season of 2019 in Houston.

In the 250 East division, Hunter Lawrence is one of the favorites to win the title now that Christian Craig has moved to 450s. Last year he had four wins and nine podiums, but failed to set a fast lap in a race.

The other 250 riders with 2022 wins this week are Mosiman, who earned his first Supercross win last year in San Diego, and Nate Thrasher, who became the fifth new class winner at Daytona.

Jeremy Martin will attempt to extend a record this week in Houston. His division leading SuperMotocross podiums number 65. He has 26 wins in the combined sessions, which ranks fourth all time.

Last Five Houston Winners

450s
2022, no race
2021, Race 3: Cooper Webb
2021, Race 2: Eli Tomac
2021, Race 1: Justin Barcia
2020, no race
2019, Cooper Webb
2018, Jason Anderson

250s
2022, no race
2021, Race 3: Colt Nichols
2021, Race 2: Jett Lawrence
2021, Race 1: Christian Craig
2020, no race
2019, Dylan Ferrandis
2018, Aaron Plessinger

By the Numbers

Anaheim 2
San Diego

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