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With all the grace and confident composure of a veteran drag racer and enthusiasm for the sport like a true member of the Force family, Top Fuel rookie Brittany Force took the first round-loss of her career in stride.
The No. 15-qualified Force, driving the Castrol Edge Dragster, gave No. 2 Brandon Bernstein and his Protect the Harvest / MAVTV car a strong challenge. But thanks to a better reaction time at the starting line (.035 seconds to .096), his 3.785-second elapsed time at 324.44 mph beat her respectable 3.822, 323.43.
Shaken but apparently not seriously injured, reigning Top Fuel champion Antron Brown rode out a violent second-round accident during Sunday's eliminations of the O'Reilly Auto Parts Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, Calif.
Almost at the end of his 1,000-foot race against Dave Grubnic, the engine in Brown's Matco Tools Dragster exploded. Brown was clocked going across the finish line first in 3.848 seconds at 308.64 mph.
The last time Courtney Force was in Pomona, she lost to Cruz Pedregon in the finals.
But like she has displayed throughout her brief Funny Car career, the learning curve appears to be rapid for the reigning Rookie of the Year winner.
Back in Pomona, this time to kick off the 2013 season with the NHRA Winternationals, Force was incredible, qualifying No. 1 and then rolling through eliminations on Sunday. She capped it off with an event-best 4.025 at 317.12 mph to beat Ron Capps for the second straight time en route to her second career win.
As the easygoing Shawn Langdon soaked up the spotlight Sunday evening at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona for winning the Top Fuel final of the O'Reilly Auto Parts Winternationals, the memories flooded back to him.
He grew up in nearby Mira Loma, Calif., and this is the dragstrip where he grew up, watching dad Chad race in the NHRA's Super Gas class in the mid-1980s. It's where he started his own racing career in 1994 in the Jr. Dragster program.
In this video, Langdon discusses his second career victory Sunday in Pomona.
Sunday's Pomona final round will go down as one of the most memorable anti-climactic wins in Vincent Nobile's Pro Stock career.
But it was the wild turn of events leading up to the Pro Stock final against teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr. which promises to keep people talking for quite some time.
Coughlin eventually went red, giving Nobile the Pro Stock victory at the season-opening NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, but that is only part of the story.