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Posted: Monday, July 7th 2014 at 12:03am

John Force thunders to first Funny Car win at Norwalk

By Pete McCole
EMAIL STORY CONTACT EDITOR PRINT
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John Force scored the Funny Car victory at Summit Racing Equiptment Motorsports Park on Sunday, the first of his career at the Norwalk, OH track. / Photo: Courtesy NHRA Media
NORWALK, OH - Defending NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Funny Car World Champion John Force won his 140th-career victory with a win in the finals over his long-time rival Ron Capps in Sunday’s Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals at Summit Racing Equipment Motorsports Park.

Antron Brown won in the Top Fuel division to pick up his fifth win of the season, while Erica Enders-Stevens swept the weekend in the Pro Stocks. Andrew Hines won out in the Pro Stock Motorcycle bracket.

Force bested Capps in a classic side-by-side battle that saw the NHRA’s all-time wins leader just pull ahead in the closing moments to take the win by less than a car length, running 4.113 at 317.27 mph over Capp’s 4.135/305.56.

The victory was Force’s second of the year and his first ever at Norwalk, which has been hosting NHRA events since 2007.

“It was special to me,” said Force, who beat out Tim Wilkerson, Chad Head and Cruz Pedregon to reach the finals. “I’ve come to this track for decades. I’ve won here at the Night of Fire races. Robert (Hight) and my daughter Ashley (Force Hood) have won here. I keep coming back here.

“I’ve been real lucky in my career and you want to win them all, but I really wanted this win.”

With the win, Force jumps to second in the series points standings over Tommy Johnson, Jr., and now trails points leader Robert Hight by 178 points.

In Top Fuel, defending World Champion Antron Brown kept himself in the hunt for the series points lead with a victory over top qualifier Shawn Langdon for his second victory in a row.

Brown won out over Clay Millican, Steve Torrence and teammate Tony Schumacher to reach his second-straight final round and his third-career final-round match up against Langdon.

In the final, Brown and Langdon hit nearly identical lights with Langdon taking a slight advantage until his tires went up in smoke just past the tree, giving Brown an easy run to the finish, posting a 3.797 at 318.84.

The victory was Brown’s 46th win overall and his 30th in Top Fuel competition.

“It’s been a true blessing to be out at this racetrack this weekend,” said Brown. “The Bader family really put on a great show. The racetrack was great all weekend long. We got some cloud cover today. When four cars can run 3.75 in the first round with other cars across the board at .76, .77, that shows you how competitive the Top Fuel class is right now. It’s crazy tough to win a round right now, let alone a race.”

Brown still trails Doug Kalitta in the Top Fuel points standings but shaved 54 points out of Kalitta lead and is now just 48 points back.

In Pro Stock, Erica Enders-Stevens took the boys to school with a dominating performance capped with a win over Dave Connolly in the final round to collect her fourth Wally of the season and 10th of her career, and increase her points lead in the Pro Stock standings.

Coming into Sunday’s eliminations as the top qualifier after setting both the track speed and ET records, Enders-Stevens took down Travis Mazza, Jonathan Gray and Chris McGaha, posting the low ET in each of the first three rounds before moving on to face Connolly, who once served as Enders-Stevens crew chief.

Facing each other in the finals for just the second time, Enders-Stevens was off the line first with a .015 light and never looked back, turning in a 6.632 at 210.14 mph over Connolly, who went 6.665/207.56.

“You can’t think about any of the negative things when you get into a 215-mph race car and I was able to do that today,” Enders-Stevens said. “At the end of the day we came out on top and that’s all that matters.”

Enders-Stevens added to her points lead by 51 points over Allen Johnson, who moved past Jeg Coughlin into second in the points standing, 241 points behind Enders-Stevens.

Three-time Pro Stock Motorcycle champion Andrew Hines won his third event of the season in a thrilling back-and-forth race over Hector Arana to hold onto his lead in the series points standings.

Hines, a three-time Norwalk winner, defeated John Hall, Jim Underdahl and Steve Johnson to face Arana for their fifth-career final-round showdown.

At the start, Hines was out the gate first, but Arana pulled even and nosed ahead by mere inches before Hines powered back ahead of Arana and held on for the win by a bike-length, going 6.901/193.96 to Arana’s 6.924/195.53 for his 35th-career victory.

“It was a lot of little things that needed to fall into place to finally come around today,” said Hines, who is now a perfect 4-0 in final rounds at Norwalk. “Without the help of everybody on the crew, we wouldn’t been able to get where we are. We struggled in the semis. But I was able to outrun Hector and to get around him was big. The fourth win light was definitely the prettiest one of the day.”

Hines added 48 points to his advantage over teammate Eddie Krawiec, who now trails by 69 points.

NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series
Summit Racing Equiptment Motorsports Park – Norwalk, OH
Summit Racing Nationals – July 6, 2014

Final Finish Order (1-16)

TOP FUEL
1. Antron Brown; 2. Shawn Langdon; 3. Tony Schumacher; 4. Troy Buff; 5. Brittany Force; 6. Doug Kalitta; 7. Steve Torrence; 8. Pat Dakin; 9. Spencer Massey; 10. Richie Crampton; 11. Khalid alBalooshi; 12. Larry Dixon; 13. Terry McMillen; 14. Clay Millican; 15. Bob Vandergriff; 16. J.R. Todd.

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

PRO STOCK
1. Erica Enders-Stevens; 2. Dave Connolly; 3. Allen Johnson; 4. Chris McGaha; 5. Shane Gray; 6. Jeg Coughlin; 7. Jonathan Gray; 8. Vincent Nobile; 9. Jason Line; 10. Greg Anderson; 11. Rodger Brogdon; 12. Shane Tucker; 13. Larry Morgan; 14. John Gaydosh Jr; 15. Mark Hogan; 16. Travis Mazza.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE
1. Andrew Hines; 2. Hector Arana; 3. Adam Arana; 4. Steve Johnson; 5. Angie Smith; 6. Jim Underdahl; 7. Chaz Kennedy; 8. Eddie Krawiec; 9. Hector Arana Jr; 10. Matt Smith; 11. John Hall; 12. Shawn Gann; 13. Scotty Pollacheck; 14. Elvira Karlsson; 15. Michael Ray; 16. Jerry Savoie.

Sunday's Final Results

Top Fuel -- Antron Brown, 3.797 seconds, 318.84 mph def. Shawn Langdon, 4.982 seconds, 155.52 mph.

Funny Car -- John Force, Ford Mustang, 4.113, 317.27 def. Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 4.135, 305.56.

Pro Stock -- Erica Enders-Stevens, Chevy Camaro, 6.632, 210.14 def. Dave Connolly, Camaro, 6.665, 207.56.

Pro Stock Motorcycle -- Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.901, 193.96 def. Hector Arana, Buell, 6.924, 195.53.

Final Round-By-Round Results

TOP FUEL

ROUND ONE -- Tony Schumacher, 3.772, 328.06 def. Khalid alBalooshi, 3.786, 324.59; Steve Torrence, 3.780, 327.11 def. Larry Dixon, 3.801, 325.45; Pat Dakin, 3.829, 320.28 def. Bob Vandergriff, 4.159, 289.69; Shawn Langdon, 3.759, 324.44 def. Terry McMillen, 3.884, 325.22; Doug Kalitta, 3.752, 327.51 def. Richie Crampton, 3.779, 323.35; Antron Brown, 3.756, 324.67 def. Clay Millican, 4.038, 241.58; Troy Buff, 3.834, 312.50 def. J.R. Todd, 6.795, 96.38; Brittany Force, 3.753, 329.83 def. Spencer Massey, 3.778, 326.95;

QUARTERFINALS -- Buff, 4.689, 190.27 def. Dakin, 11.648, 69.71; Brown, 3.824, 320.89 def. Torrence, 4.527, 186.67; Langdon, 3.786, 327.51 def. Force, 3.866, 305.56; Schumacher, 3.847, 317.42 def. Kalitta, 4.224, 236.26;

SEMIFINALS -- Brown, 3.793, 320.89 def. Schumacher, 5.171, 144.41; Langdon, 9.866, 80.36 def. Buff, broke;

FINAL -- Brown, 3.797, 318.84 def. Langdon, 4.982, 155.52.

FUNNY CAR

ROUND ONE -- Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 4.104, 315.19 def. Courtney Force, Ford Mustang, 4.439, 209.95; Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 4.094, 311.77 def. Tony Pedregon, Toyota Camry, 4.258, 258.91; Del Worsham, Camry, 4.072, 317.64 def. Jeff Diehl, Toyota Solara, 4.295, 282.78; John Force, Mustang, 4.080, 317.72 def. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.199, 261.57; Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.059, 316.90 def. Jeff Arend, Charger, 11.685, 70.73; Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 4.167, 304.25 def. Robert Hight, Mustang, DQ; Chad Head, Camry, 4.075, 316.30 def. Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 4.090, 309.77; Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.075, 315.49 def. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 4.145, 312.86;

QUARTERFINALS -- C. Pedregon, 4.109, 307.58 def. Johnson Jr., 4.141, 312.06; Capps, 4.130, 309.42 def. Hagan, foul; Beckman, 4.181, 305.91 def. Worsham, 4.476, 226.01; J. Force, 4.217, 279.21 def. Head, 4.755, 181.76;

SEMIFINALS -- Capps, 4.126, 311.34 def. Beckman, 4.169, 309.84; J. Force, 4.149, 290.88 def. C. Pedregon, 4.150, 306.53;

FINAL -- J. Force, 4.113, 317.27 def. Capps, 4.135, 305.56.

PRO STOCK

ROUND ONE -- Jonathan Gray, Chevy Camaro, 6.619, 209.98 def. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.591, 210.83; Dave Connolly, Camaro, 6.590, 210.08 def. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.595, 210.64; Jeg Coughlin, Dodge Dart, 6.587, 210.47 def. Rodger Brogdon, Camaro, 6.603, 209.75; Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.590, 210.31 def. Shane Tucker, Camaro, 6.623, 209.82; Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.615, 209.79 def. John Gaydosh Jr, Pontiac GXP, 6.684, 207.62; Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.571, 211.10 def. Mark Hogan, GXP, 6.754, 205.88; Erica Enders-Stevens, Camaro, 6.570, 211.39 def. Travis Mazza, Ford Mustang, 12.297, 71.93; Allen Johnson, Dart, 6.589, 210.73 def. Larry Morgan, Mustang, 6.671, 209.30;

QUARTERFINALS -- McGaha, 6.621, 209.52 def. Nobile, 7.026, 158.89; Johnson, 6.609, 209.92 def. Coughlin, 6.658, 209.17; Connolly, 6.607, 209.85 def. S. Gray, 6.597, 210.50; Enders-Stevens, 6.593, 211.06 def. J. Gray, 6.660, 209.33;

SEMIFINALS -- Connolly, 6.883, 209.10 def. Johnson, 11.306, 81.45; Enders-Stevens, 6.601, 211.20 def. McGaha, 18.030, 46.32;

FINAL -- Enders-Stevens, 6.632, 210.14 def. Connolly, 6.665, 207.56.

PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE

ROUND ONE -- Steve Johnson, Suzuki, 6.985, 191.95 def. Jerry Savoie, Suzuki, 23.502, 24.78; Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.896, 193.35 def. John Hall, Buell, 6.923, 191.46; Adam Arana, Buell, 6.913, 194.30 def. Matt Smith, Buell, 6.911, 193.96; Chaz Kennedy, Buell, 6.905, 192.14 def. Michael Ray, Buell, foul; Hector Arana, Buell, 6.958, 195.42 def. Shawn Gann, Buell, 6.926, 194.13; Jim Underdahl, Suzuki, 6.905, 195.34 def. Hector Arana Jr, Buell, 6.873, 196.13; Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.897, 195.68 def. Elvira Karlsson, Suzuki, foul; Angie Smith, Buell, 6.910, 194.66 def. Scotty Pollacheck, Buell, 6.979, 192.77;

QUARTERFINALS -- Johnson, 6.988, 191.43 def. A. Smith, 6.986, 192.11; H. Arana, 6.970, 194.49 def. Kennedy, foul; A. Arana, 7.006, 183.94 def. Krawiec, 7.041, 179.06; Hines, 6.892, 193.35 def. Underdahl, 7.000, 192.91;

SEMIFINALS -- H. Arana, 6.894, 196.10 def. A. Arana, 6.960, 194.91; Hines, 6.950, 193.13 def. Johnson, 6.991, 191.46;

FINAL -- Hines, 6.901, 193.96 def. H. Arana, 6.924, 195.53.

Point Standings (Top 10)

Top Fuel
1. Doug Kalitta, 1,130; 2. Antron Brown, 1,082; 3. Shawn Langdon, 938; 4. Tony Schumacher, 785; 5. Spencer Massey, 780; 6. Steve Torrence, 747; 7. Brittany Force, 690; 8. Khalid alBalooshi, 652; 9. Richie Crampton, 626; 10. J.R. Todd, 593.

Funny Car
1. Robert Hight, 1,067; 2. John Force, 889; 3. Ron Capps, 846; 4. Tommy Johnson Jr., 845; 5. Alexis DeJoria, 779; 6. Courtney Force, 764; 7. Del Worsham, 748; 8. Matt Hagan, 739; 9. Cruz Pedregon, 726; 10. Jack Beckman, 655.

Pro Stock
1. Erica Enders-Stevens, 1,166; 2. Allen Johnson, 925; 3. Jeg Coughlin, 900; 4. Dave Connolly, 875; 5. Jason Line, 863; 6. Vincent Nobile, 840; 7. Shane Gray, 833; 8. Chris McGaha, 600; 9. V. Gaines, 562; 10. Jonathan Gray, 484.

Pro Stock Motorcycle
1. Andrew Hines, 650; 2. Eddie Krawiec, 581; 3. Hector Arana Jr, 515; 4. Hector Arana, 416; 5. John Hall, 407; 6. Matt Smith, 394; 7. Scotty Pollacheck, 375; 8. Angie Smith, 352; 9. Michael Ray, 333; 10. Steve Johnson, 320.
Associated Categories: Sports News, Professional Sports, NASCAR

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