NHRA: Antron Brown claims Top Fuel championship; John Force earns 147th win

(Photos and videos courtesy NHRA)
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AB equals C – as in Antron Brown clinched his second consecutive NHRA Top Fuel championship and third in the last five seasons Sunday in Las Vegas.

Brown has an insurmountable 157-point lead after the penultimate Toyota NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

The final race of the season is in two weeks, the Auto Club Finals, Nov. 10-13, at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, California.

“Brian (Corradi) and Mark (Oswald) and our entire team has worked so hard and I’m just privileged to drive that racecar for Don Schumacher Racing because Don makes it all happen,” Brown said. “When you come to a sport with all this access it makes dreams like mine, a kid from New Jersey, come true. My dad, uncle, everybody, they instilled it in me at a young age, work hard and you can make great things happen.”

With Brown having clinched the title, the battle remains for who will finish runner-up in Top Fuel this season.

In Sunday’s Top Fuel final, Steve Torrence (3.734 seconds at 323.81 mph) defeated J.R. Todd (3.762 at 321.96) for his third win of the season and the eighth of his career.

“It’s been a good weekend all together,” Torrence said. “We kind of struggled the first few races of the countdown and dropped the ball. I mean heck we had to turn it on and come up here and try to do some good. The Capco guys have really stayed focus and stayed driven and done what it took to overcome just some bad luck and a couple screw ups on my part. We have a really good team, we have a championship caliber team, I believe.”

Torrence is currently second in the Top Fuel standings (-157 points behind Brown), followed by Doug Kalitta (-168), Brittany Force (-215), Shawn Langdon (-215), J.R. Todd (-229), Leah Pritchett (-247) and Tony Schumacher (-249).

In Funny Car, 16-time champion John Force (3.884 seconds at 327.19 mph) defeated teammate and daughter Courtney Force (3.906 at 325.85) for his record-extending 147th career win. It was also Force’s fourth win of the season and sixth of his career at Las Vegas.

“I’m really excited,” Force said. “I never like beating my daughter. We got two wins in the Countdown just a little bit late. It’s pretty exciting when I see the stands packed (and) the way NHRA and the way our TV deal has really been hopping, sold out crowds, and so many things going on.

“To be a part of it still at my age (67) is really awesome.”

Ron Capps continued to close in on his first career Funny Car championship. He’ll go to Pomona with an 86-point lead over two-time former champion Matt Hagan and a 113 point edge over Tommy Johnson Jr.

There is a maximum of 130 points to be earned at Pomona, meaning Capps can potentially clinch the title if he reaches the semifinals.

In addition to Hagan and Johnson, also still in contention for runner-up are Jack Beckman, John Force, defending series champion Del Worsham and Courtney Force.

In Pro Stock, Shane Gray – who will step aside from racing in 2017 to let his son drive the family race car – earned his first win of the season and fifth of his career. Gray (6.719 seconds at 204.76 mph) defeated Drew Skillman.

“It was a great weekend,” Gray said. “It was a really good weekend for me. We were talking out there I think I’ve been in nine semis this year and I haven’t won since U.S. Nationals in 2014. It was a great day. I’ve got one more race to run and then my son is getting in the car so I can’t think of a better time to win. Awesome day.”

Jason Line remains in the lead in the point standings, with teammate Greg Anderson a close second, just 19 points behind. Gray is 94 points behind, the last driver eligible to still win the title.

Eliminated Sunday were Vincent Nobile, Skillman, Bo Butner, Chris McGaha and Allen Johnson.

In Pro Stock Motorcycle, Louisiana alligator farmer Jerry Savoie is making it a three-way battle for the championship.

Savoie (6.915 seconds at 194.13 mph) defeated defending PSM champ Andrew Hines (fouled) on Sunday to close to within three points of Hines and teammate Eddie Krawiec, who are tied for first place.

Hines and Krawiec each have 2,509 points, while Savoie has 2,506 points. The only other driver still eligible for the championship, although she’s a distant 110 points back, is former champion Angelle Sampey (2,399 points). All other riders have been eliminated.

“To do what we did here, we been working hard,” Savoie said. “Tim (Kulungian) went back to the shop and looked at a bunch of notes, and got on a dyno and an engine we had back home and did some work. It’s like football and anything else, the harder you work, the better you get. It all came together this weekend. No. 1 qualifier every round, and we got a fast motorcycle. It’s going to be very, very interesting when we get to Pomona.”

Here’s the final statistics wrap-up for Sunday’s event:

FINAL FINISHING ORDER:

TOP FUEL: 1.  Steve Torrence; 2.  J.R. Todd; 3.  Leah Pritchett; 4.  Antron Brown; 5.  Clay Millican; 6.  Doug Kalitta; 7.  Wayne Newby; 8.  Brittany Force; 9.  Richie Crampton; 10.  Shawn Reed; 11.  Tripp Tatum; 12.  Terry Haddock; 13.  Terry McMillen; 14.  Tony Schumacher; 15.  Shawn Langdon; 16.  Scott Palmer.

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

PRO STOCK: 1.  Shane Gray; 2.  Drew Skillman; 3.  Greg Anderson; 4.  Jason Line; 5.  Bo Butner; 6.  Chris McGaha; 7.  Alex Laughlin; 8.  Vincent Nobile; 9.  Erica Enders; 10.  Allen Johnson; 11.  Deric Kramer; 12.  Jeg Coughlin; 13.  Matt Hartford; 14.  Shane Tucker; 15.  Kenny Delco; 16.  Aaron Strong.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: 1.  Jerry Savoie; 2.  Andrew Hines; 3.  Eddie Krawiec; 4.  Matt Smith; 5.  Hector Arana Jr; 6.  LE Tonglet; 7.  Angie Smith; 8.  Cory Reed; 9.  Hector Arana; 10.  Angelle Sampey; 11.  Melissa Surber; 12.  Joey Gladstone; 13.  Karen Stoffer; 14.  Steve Johnson; 15.  Scotty Pollacheck; 16.  Chip Ellis.

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

FINAL RESULTS:

Top Fuel: Steve Torrence, 3.734 seconds, 323.81 mph  def. J.R. Todd, 3.762 seconds, 321.96 mph.

Funny Car: John Force, Chevy Camaro, 3.884, 327.19  def. Courtney Force, Camaro, 3.906, 325.85.

Pro Stock: Shane Gray, Chevy Camaro, 6.719, 204.76  def. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 19.793, 27.72.

Pro Stock Motorcycle: Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.915, 194.13  def. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, Foul – Red Light.

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

FINAL ROUND-BY-ROUND RESULTS:

TOP FUEL: ROUND ONE — J.R. Todd, 3.752, 324.12 def. Shawn Langdon, 10.405, 82.67; Wayne Newby, 3.836, 313.88 def. Tony Schumacher, 9.603, 74.72; Clay Millican, 3.751, 319.45 def. Terry Haddock, 4.086, 287.66; Leah Pritchett, 3.742, 320.20 def. Shawn Reed, 3.931, 310.41; Doug Kalitta, 3.976, 251.77 def. Scott Palmer, Broke; Antron Brown, 3.765, 323.89 def. Terry McMillen, 6.274, 108.62; Steve Torrence, 3.730, 327.74 def. Richie Crampton, 3.766, 317.19; Brittany Force, 3.772, 321.58 def. Tripp Tatum, 4.005, 238.85;

QUARTERFINALS — Brown, 3.771, 322.11 def. Newby, 3.896, 273.11; Todd, 3.709, 328.94 def. Millican, 3.727, 328.38; Pritchett, 3.816, 279.21 def. Force, 4.303, 223.65; Torrence, 3.732, 324.83 def. Kalitta, 3.739, 324.75;

SEMIFINALS — Torrence, 3.742, 327.59 def. Pritchett, 3.768, 322.96; Todd, 3.719, 329.02 def. Brown, 7.720, 92.29;

FINAL — Torrence, 3.734, 323.81 def. Todd, 3.762, 321.96.

FUNNY CAR: ROUND ONE — John Force, Chevy Camaro, 3.906, 326.95 def. John Bojec, Toyota Camry, 5.118, 163.41; Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger, 3.890, 326.95 def. Jeff Arend, Charger, 5.805, 98.91; Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.911, 328.14 def. John Hale, Charger, 4.389, 201.82; Ron Capps, Charger, 3.916, 323.66 def. Paul Lee, Camry, 3.965, 329.34; Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 4.244, 218.55 def. Robert Hight, Camaro, 6.649, 105.01; Chad Head, Camry, 4.757, 264.55 def. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 7.027, 125.26; Del Worsham, Camry, 3.923, 327.35 def. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 3.949, 321.65; Courtney Force, Camaro, 3.888, 327.82 def. Alexis DeJoria, Camry, Broke – No Show;

QUARTERFINALS — J. Force, 3.917, 325.92 def. Head, 4.032, 280.66; Hagan, 3.887, 329.02 def. Worsham, 3.935, 326.71; C. Force, 3.886, 321.73 def. Beckman, 7.852, 78.74; R. Capps, 3.921, 323.43 def. Pedregon, Broke – No Show;

SEMIFINALS — J. Force, 3.928, 330.39 def. Hagan, 6.561, 122.13; C. Force, 3.880, 326.48 def. R. Capps, 3.937, 317.49;

FINAL — J. Force, 3.884, 327.19 def. C. Force, 3.906, 325.85.

PRO STOCK: ROUND ONE — Chris McGaha, Chevy Camaro, 6.714, 205.01 def. Erica Enders, Dodge Dart, 6.737, 204.54; Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 7.408, 138.24 def. Matt Hartford, Camaro, Foul – Red Light; Jason Line, Camaro, 6.676, 206.07 def. Allen Johnson, Dart, 6.739, 204.76; Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.698, 205.32 def. Deric Kramer, Dart, 6.739, 203.25; Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.707, 205.66 def. Jeg Coughlin, Dart, 6.744, 203.28; Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.702, 206.01 def. Shane Tucker, Camaro, 6.750, 204.70; Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.679, 206.01 def. Aaron Strong, Camaro, 6.783, 202.48; Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.682, 205.82 def. Kenny Delco, Camaro, 6.757, 203.68;

QUARTERFINALS — Skillman, 6.708, 205.76 def. Nobile, 6.735, 205.19; Gray, 6.702, 205.19 def. Butner, 6.721, 205.26; Anderson, 6.692, 205.60 def. McGaha, 6.725, 205.22; Line, 6.698, 205.76 def. Laughlin, 6.729, 205.29;

SEMIFINALS — Skillman, 6.716, 205.98 def. Line, 14.554, 58.27; Gray, 6.717, 205.22 def. Anderson, 6.730, 206.10;

FINAL — Gray, 6.719, 204.76 def. Skillman, 19.793, 27.72.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE: ROUND ONE — Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 6.908, 194.24 def. Scotty Pollacheck, Buell, 7.116, 185.49; Angie Smith, 7.052, 187.86 def. Hector Arana, Buell, 6.968, 192.77; LE Tonglet, Suzuki, 6.982, 191.10 def. Steve Johnson, Suzuki, Foul – Red Light; Cory Reed, Buell, 6.993, 190.32 def. Angelle Sampey, Buell, 6.978, 191.59; Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.966, 190.94 def. Joey Gladstone, Suzuki, Foul – Red Light; Hector Arana Jr, Buell, 6.995, 192.36 def. Karen Stoffer, Suzuki, 7.035, 191.65; Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.937, 193.65 def. Melissa Surber, Buell, 7.019, 189.10; Matt Smith, 6.961, 191.67 def. Chip Ellis, Buell, 7.205, 160.23;

QUARTERFINALS — Savoie, 6.951, 192.58 def. Tonglet, 7.028, 191.81; Hines, 6.985, 190.38 def. A. Smith, 7.057, 189.28; M. Smith, 6.992, 190.81 def. Reed, 7.141, 186.56; Krawiec, 6.948, 193.18 def. Arana Jr, 7.027, 191.16;

SEMIFINALS — Savoie, 6.919, 194.10 def. M. Smith, Foul – Red Light; Hines, 6.968, 193.13 def. Krawiec, 7.014, 191.32;

FINAL — Savoie, 6.915, 194.13 def. Hines, Foul – Red Light.

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

UPDATED POINT STANDINGS:

Top Fuel: 1.  Antron Brown, 2,581*; 2.  Steve Torrence, 2,424; 3.  Doug Kalitta, 2,413; 4.  Brittany Force, 2,366; 5.  Shawn Langdon, 2,365; 6.  J.R. Todd, 2,352; 7.  Leah Pritchett, 2,334; 8.  Tony Schumacher, 2,332; 9.  Clay Millican, 2,232; 10.  Richie Crampton, 2,227.

* Clinched Top Fuel Championship

Funny Car: 1.  Ron Capps, 2,546; 2.  Matt Hagan, 2,460; 3.  Tommy Johnson Jr., 2,433; 4.  Jack Beckman, 2,395; 5.  John Force, 2,387; 6.  Del Worsham, 2,373; 7.  Courtney Force, 2,334; 8.  Robert Hight, 2,313; 9.  Tim Wilkerson, 2,262; 10.  Alexis DeJoria, 2,184.

Pro Stock: 1.  Jason Line, 2,532; 2.  Greg Anderson, 2,513; 3.  Shane Gray, 2,438; 4.  Vincent Nobile, 2,394; 5.  Drew Skillman, 2,371; 6.  Bo Butner, 2,369; 7.  Chris McGaha, 2,275; 8.  Allen Johnson, 2,245; 9.  Jeg Coughlin, 2,177; 10.  Erica Enders, 2,167.

Pro Stock Motorcycle: 1.  (tie) Andrew Hines, 2,509; Eddie Krawiec, 2,509; 3.  Jerry Savoie, 2,506; 4.  Angelle Sampey, 2,399; 5.  Chip Ellis, 2,359; 6.  LE Tonglet, 2,340; 7.  Cory Reed, 2,281; 8.  Matt Smith, 2,277; 9.  Hector Arana, 2,245; 10.  Hector Arana Jr, 2,236.

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