(Photo courtesy NHRA)

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

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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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Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry. Time just published a brief piece by Wallace saluting Hamilton as a trailblazer.

The idea of Hamilton attending the NASCAR season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it would seem right for Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — to spend some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).