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NHRA at Phoenix: Courtney Force wins one for her dad; Torrence, McGaha also win

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You’ve heard of win one for the Gipper? Well, on Sunday, Courtney Force won one for the Skipper.

As in the patriarch of John Force Racing, her father, 16-time NHRA Funny Car champion John Force.

While John Force was in a Chandler, Arizona hospital after a wicked crash in the second round of Sunday’s eliminations of the NHRA Arizona Nationals, No. 1 qualifier Courtney Force went on to win her first Funny Car national event since 2016.

And that’s the best medicine she could have given her father, as he was released after being examined and evaluated at nearby Chandler Regional Hospital, and returned to the racetrack to celebrate with his race-winning daughter.

Also Sunday, Steve Torrence won his first Top Fuel race of 2018, after winning a class-high eight races last season, while Chris McGaha earned his sixth career win in Pro Stock.

In Funny Car, Courtney Force ran 337.16 mph at 3.834 seconds in defeating Tommy Johnson Jr. in the final round. It was Force’s first win since Houston 2016.

“Having [crew chief] Brian Corradi on my team and working with Dan Hood has been a great connection for our entire team,” Force said. “I had the utmost confidence to get in the car today because of the job my team does on it, so to get a victory at this race and take home a Wally (championship trophy) at the end of the weekend is pretty incredible.”

In addition to winning the race and being No. 1 qualifier, Courtney Force also set both ends of the Wild Horse Pass track records for Funny Car elapsed time and speed.

In Top Fuel, Torrence ran 330.72 mph at 3.729 seconds to defeat Scott Palmer in the final round.

It was Torrence’s first career triumph at White Horse Pass Motorsports Park (formerly Firebird Raceway).

Ironically, Torrence defeated his father, Billy Torrence, in the semifinal round.

“There is no easy round in this Top Fuel class anymore, you can’t take anybody lightly but it was a heck of a day with some pretty great races,” Torrence said. “The round against my dad is one that ranks up there that you remember as a high note that you remember of your career.”

In Pro Stock, McGaha earned his first win since last April in Charlotte, reaching the winner’s circle with a 211.59 mph run at 6.529 seconds, defeating Jason Line.

“We picked up some power this offseason that we’ve been looking for,” McGaha said. “But when we went No. 1 in the first round of qualifying we knew we had something that could compete. It’s really satisfying to do this as a one-car team, and it’s really special to get our first win of the year.”

The NHRA takes the next two weeks off before its third race on the 24-race Mello Yello Drag Racing Series national event schedule, March 15-18, in the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville (Florida) Raceway.

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FINAL FINISHING ORDER:

TOP FUEL: 1. Steve Torrence; 2. Scott Palmer; 3. Billy Torrence; 4. Greg Carrillo; 5. Blake Alexander; 6. Brittany Force; 7. Antron Brown; 8. Leah Pritchett; 9. Mike Salinas; 10. Troy Buff; 11. Tony Schumacher; 12. Richie Crampton; 13. Clay Millican; 14. Doug Kalitta; 15. Terry McMillen; 16. Steven Chrisman.

FUNNY CAR: 1. Courtney Force; 2. Tommy Johnson Jr.; 3. Shawn Langdon; 4. John Force; 5. Matt Hagan; 6. Ron Capps; 7. Richard Townsend; 8. Jonnie Lindberg; 9. J.R. Todd; 10. Tim Wilkerson; 11. Robert Hight; 12. Bob Tasca III; 13. Del Worsham; 14. Cruz Pedregon; 15. Jeff Diehl; 16. Jack Beckman.

PRO STOCK: 1. Chris McGaha; 2. Jason Line; 3. Alex Laughlin; 4. Deric Kramer; 5. Greg Anderson; 6. Drew Skillman; 7. Erica Enders; 8. Jeg Coughlin; 9. Bo Butner; 10. Val Smeland; 11. Kenny Delco; 12. Tanner Gray; 13. Alan Prusiensky; 14. Steve Graham; 15. Matt Hartford; 16. Vincent Nobile.

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FINAL RESULTS:

TOP FUEL: Steve Torrence, 3.729 seconds, 330.72 mph def. Scott Palmer, 6.449 seconds, 102.70 mph.

FUNNY CAR: Courtney Force, Chevy Camaro, 3.834, 337.16 def. Tommy Johnson Jr., Dodge Charger, 6.814, 101.57.

PRO STOCK: Chris McGaha, Chevy Camaro, 6.529, 211.59 def. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.538, 210.14.

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FINAL ROUND-BY-ROUND RESULTS

TOP FUEL: ROUND ONE — Antron Brown, 8.756, 79.76 def. Mike Salinas, Foul – Red Light; Blake Alexander, 3.848, 322.27 def. Terry McMillen, 11.728, 65.81; Brittany Force, 3.724, 293.66 def. Clay Millican, 5.154, 135.70; Leah Pritchett, 3.679, 333.08 def. Troy Buff, 3.823, 314.75; Greg Carrillo, 4.223, 221.27 def. Tony Schumacher, 4.858, 189.66; Steve Torrence, 3.705, 330.07 def. Steven Chrisman, 14.505, 71.18; Scott Palmer, 3.768, 325.45 def. Richie Crampton, 5.061, 144.95; Billy Torrence, 6.570, 138.34 def. Doug Kalitta, 6.714, 154.46;

QUARTERFINALS — Carrillo, 4.054, 284.21 def. Brown, 6.793, 120.75; B. Torrence, 3.723, 320.74 def. Force, 4.661, 156.12; S. Torrence, 3.690, 331.36 def. Alexander, 3.784, 306.19; Palmer, 3.844, 325.85 def. Pritchett, 7.962, 86.85;

SEMIFINALS — Palmer, 3.853, 322.11 def. Carrillo, 4.999, 147.25; S. Torrence, 3.722, 328.86 def. B. Torrence, 3.726, 328.54;

FINAL — S. Torrence, 3.729, 330.72 def. Palmer, 6.449, 102.70.

FUNNY CAR: ROUND ONE — Jonnie Lindberg, Toyota Camry, 4.618, 283.67 def. Bob Tasca III, Ford Mustang, 4.862, 225.03; Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 3.908, 325.30 def. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.091, 256.89; Courtney Force, Chevy Camaro, 4.334, 228.61 def. Del Worsham, Camry, 5.084, 167.47; Richard Townsend, Camry, 5.503, 179.90 def. Jack Beckman, Charger, Broke; John Force, Camaro, 5.715, 224.51 def. Jeff Diehl, Camry, 7.620, 124.46; Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.715, 225.60 def. Robert Hight, Camaro, 4.806, 273.44; Shawn Langdon, Camry, 3.965, 328.22 def. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 5.112, 152.95; Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.910, 331.85 def. J.R. Todd, Camry, 4.017, 320.66;

QUARTERFINALS — Langdon, 3.927, 328.14 def. Capps, 4.651, 182.30; J. Force, 4.139, 278.75 def. Lindberg, No Time Recorded; Johnson Jr., 4.454, 244.74 def. Townsend, 5.174, 144.52; C. Force, 3.965, 319.14 def. Hagan, 4.480, 192.19;

SEMIFINALS — C. Force, 3.938, 327.90 def. J. Force, Broke – No Show; Johnson Jr., 3.916, 328.46 def. Langdon, 3.958, 325.77;

FINAL — C. Force, 3.834, 337.16 def. Johnson Jr., 6.814, 101.57.

PRO STOCK: ROUND ONE — Drew Skillman, Chevy Camaro, 6.536, 210.34 def. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 16.184, 50.25; Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.553, 211.73 def. Tanner Gray, Camaro, 6.642, 209.82; Jeg Coughlin, Camaro, 6.574, 209.49 def. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.555, 211.03; Jason Line, Camaro, 6.552, 210.08 def. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, Broke; Deric Kramer, Camaro, 6.676, 202.58 def. Alan Prusiensky, Dodge Dart, 8.557, 112.00; Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.628, 208.88 def. Val Smeland, Camaro, 6.609, 203.06; Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.561, 209.92 def. Steve Graham, Camaro, 9.567, 96.49; Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.552, 211.46 def. Kenny Delco, Camaro, 6.622, 207.94;

QUARTERFINALS — Laughlin, 6.577, 209.92 def. Coughlin, 6.590, 209.69; McGaha, 6.561, 211.93 def. Enders, 6.549, 210.14; Line, 6.548, 210.37 def. Anderson, 6.541, 211.00; Kramer, 6.542, 210.67 def. Skillman, 6.548, 210.54;

SEMIFINALS — McGaha, 6.562, 211.83 def. Laughlin, 6.574, 210.21; Line, 6.552, 210.41 def. Kramer, Foul – Red Light;

FINAL — McGaha, 6.529, 211.59 def. Line, 6.538, 210.14.

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

POINT STANDINGS AFTER PHOENIX RACE:

TOP FUEL: 1. Steve Torrence, 183; 2. Doug Kalitta, 144; 3. Tony Schumacher, 140; 4. Scott Palmer, 139; 5. Antron Brown, 133; 6. Clay Millican, 122; 7. Leah Pritchett, 90; 8. Brittany Force, 86; 9. Billy Torrence, 71; 10. Greg Carrillo, 66.

FUNNY CAR: 1. Matt Hagan, 179; 2. Courtney Force, 160; 3. Ron Capps, 139; 4. Robert Hight, 133; 5. Tommy Johnson Jr., 128; 6. Jack Beckman, 122; 7. Jonnie Lindberg, 107; 8. Shawn Langdon, 104; 9. J.R. Todd, 83; 10. Cruz Pedregon, 82.

PRO STOCK: 1. Jason Line, 195; 2. Deric Kramer, 154; 3. Chris McGaha, 152; 4. Bo Butner, 149; 5. Alex Laughlin, 136; 6. Erica Enders, 134; 7. Greg Anderson, 119; 8. Drew Skillman, 117; 9. Vincent Nobile, 95; 10. Jeg Coughlin, 84.

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Gabby Chaves to sub for Joao Barbosa at Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen

Photo: IndyCar
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Gabby Chaves is set to return to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at Watkins Glen International later this month.

The Columbian-American driver, who last competed in IMSA in 2016 – with the DeltaWing outfit – will sub for the injured Joao Barbosa – he hurt his wrist in a cycling accident earlier in June – in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen.

Chaves will partner Filipe Albuquerque and Christian Fittipaldi in the No. 5 Cadillac.

Chaves expressed gratitude for being asked to fill in, but kept his enthusiasm muted, noting that he is getting the opportunity ultimately because another driver got hurt.

“The first thing is of course that you never want to have an opportunity because someone got hurt, so this is an unfortunate circumstance with Joao having his injury,”said Chaves. “But I appreciate the opportunity to join the championship-leading team. Mustang Sampling Racing has had a strong start this year and hopefully I can help the team continue to have those kinds of results.”

Chaves added, “I love Watkins Glen, it is a great track and I am looking forward to racing the Cadillac Prototype there. I’m excited to be going back to endurance racing. With different classes all racing at the same time, there is a lot for the driver to deal with as you work through traffic. So I am looking forward to racing at the Glen again, and I really appreciate this opportunity with Mustang Sampling Racing.”

Chaves’ most recent IMSA event was the 2016 Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen, when he finished seventh in the Prototype class.

The No. 5 Action Express Cadillac currently sits tied with the sister No. 31 Whelen Engineer Racing Cadillac of Eric Curran and Felipe Nasr atop the IMSA standings, though Barbosa’s hopes of a driver’s championship are set to take an enormous hit with him missing Watkins Glen.

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