Pomona winners. Photo: NHRA

Huge day for Brittany Force, Chevrolet among NHRA titleists

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POMONA, Calif. (AP) Brittany Force became the NHRA’s first female Top Fuel season champion since Shirley Muldowney in 1982 on Sunday in the season-ending Auto Club NHRA Finals.

Force, the daughter of 16-time Funny Car champion John Force, wrapped up the title in the quarterfinals and went on to win the event at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona. Force beat Shawn Langdon with a 3.668-second pass at 330.07 mph in the final for her fourth victory of the year.

“I can’t believe we are here, it seems like a dream,” Force said. “The reason we are here is because of that Monster team and all the support I have and all the sponsors. Everyone at JFR and that is the reason we are here. We struggled, we had our ups and downs, but we pulled it together when it mattered most. I give all of it up to my crew chiefs, Alan Johnson and Brian Husen, they are the ones that made this possible. They always had my back and they kept pushing me.”

Robert Hight took his second Funny Car title, and Bo Butner won the Pro Stock crown and event title. Tommy Johnson Jr. won the Funny Car event, and Andrew Hines took the Pro Stock Motorcycle race.

Hight wrapped up the title in the first round of eliminations.

“Everybody worked their tail off and was quiet and knew they had a job to do,” Hight said. “This is just huge for John Force Racing. For a couple of years, we have struggled. but it is such a great group. We signed a long-term deal with Auto Club and they deserve better than what we were giving them.”

Hight also had four season victories.

Butner drove his Chevrolet Camaro to a 6.594 at 210.70 to beat Tanner Gray in the final. Bunter finished the season with five event victories.

“Just never give up. I have a great crew. It’s amazing,” Butner said. “They don’t give up on me. But the KB team, what does that say about them? Honestly, I rent a car and a motor and they put me in a championship. It’s just unbelievable.”

Hines beat teammate and season champion Eddie Krawiec with a 6.856 at 196.02 on a Harley Davidson.

More AP Auto Racing: http://racing.ap.org

Kyle Busch happy with first stint: ‘Put me in the car, there’s excitement!’

AP Photo/Terry Renna
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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The Rolex 24 at Daytona debut of the “KB Show” was cut short by a strategy maneuver but still delivered drama and a positive result.

Kyle Busch got the No. 14 RCF GT3 Lexus back on the lead lap and back in contention for a GTD victory at Daytona International Speedway.

“It was good,” Kyle Busch said with a broad smile after a 42-minute stint. “Just, uh, shit, put me in the car, and there’s excitement around! Drove all my way back to the lead lap and everything.

“Overall, we’ve had a good experience and hell I only got one stint in, so I’m ready for more. Sign me up, coach!”

The two-time Cup champion was expected to drive for at least 90 minutes, but the first full-course caution of the race (with 19 hours and 16 minutes remaining) caused AIM Vasser Sullivan to change up its drive plan. Busch was called to the pits in favor of Parker Chase.

“With all the strategy and the way the wave-bys work here, it’s quite different than what we’re accustomed to (in NASCAR),” said Busch, who likely will drive longer now later in the race. “That wasn’t bad. To get ourselves back on the lead lap and back to a position where we can start scrapping again hopefully is what we needed.

“So I got one stint in, but I’m trying to save myself and (teammate) Jack (Hawksworth) for a little later.”

Busch climbed into the car shortly after 6 p.m. as the last of the No. 14’s four drivers. He complained a few times on his radio about traffic, which he said was his biggest challenge.

“There were a couple of instances we ran down a smaller car, and (it was) just mirror driving in front of us,” he said. “That was pretty bad. We lost probably 2 seconds on that. Overall, I guess that’s road racing.

The yellow flag was exactly what Busch’s team needed after being forced to start from the rear of the field when it missed qualifying because of an engine change. Hawksworth, who started the race, said the car was “quick in the wrong places and slow in the right places” after struggling with handling and speed in the first stint.

“I don’t feel we’re out of it,” Hawksworth said. “It’s a very long race. Still early days. We need to work on having speed for the end of the race. The position right now doesn’t really make any difference. We’ll need to find some performance at the end of the race to fight for the win.”