SUNDAY - WOMEN DOMINATE THE NHRA IN THE NORTHWEST AS COURTNEY FORCE AND ERICA ENDERS CLAIM VICTORIES; STEVE TORRENCE ALSO WINS
For the first time in NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series history, two female drivers claimed Wally trophies at the same event. Courtney Force powered her Traxxas Ford Mustang Funny Car to the winner's circle for the first time in her career, and Erica Enders earned her second career Pro Stock victory in her GK Racing Chevy Cobalt at the O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Northwest Nationals presented by Super Start Batteries at Pacific Raceways.
"To have both me and Erica in the winner's circle is awesome," Force said. "We're not just out here to race the boys, we're here to beat the boys and today just proves that."
“This [the women drag racers] is a big family out here, and all of the girls tend to stick together,” Enders said. “I couldn’t be more proud of her. She’s an awesome driver and she does a tremendous job out here.”
Steve Torrence also earned his third career Top Fuel victory at the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event.
Force, the youngest daughter of 15-time Funny Car world champion John Force and sister of the first woman to win in Funny Car, Ashley Force Hood, earned her firstcareer Funny Car victory at the same track where she earned her first victory in the Lucas Oil series in 2009.
“I remember coming out here and getting my Top Alcohol Dragster win,” Force said, “I looked at that Wally and remember thinking how much I couldn’t wait for the day I could get one that said Funny Car on the side. Being that it’s my rookie season, I didn’t expect it to happen this year at all. This is my learning season. I’m doing everything I can to be the best at what I’m trying to do.”
Force struggled throughout qualifying, starting from the No. 14 spot but managed to get the tune-up right for Sunday's eliminations as she maintained lane choice in the semifinal and final round in the tough conditions.
“Our Traxxas Ford Mustang was running good today but we worked hard just to get it in the show. This track is tough.”
Force took out Cruz Pedregon in the opening round, Bob Tasca in the quarterfinals and her father in the semifinals. Then Force’s 4.238-second pass at 293.54 mph in the final round was too much for reigning Funny Car world champ Matt Hagan's 4.328-second pass at 276.58 mph.
“Cruz (Pedregon), Bob Tasca, my dad, and Matt Hagan are some heavy hitters,” Force said. “We had tough competition today. Taking out a Schumacher car in the process was a huge accomplishment for us.”
This win is a dream come true for the rookie Funny Car driver who has dreamt of competing in Funny Car with her dad since she was a seven-year old girl.
“It was huge,” Force said. “Seeing that win light, I really couldn’t believe it. Getting that victory and having to take out my dad in the process was a huge accomplishment. I was listening to my guys on the radio, and I was yelling back at them. As a kid being in a tow truck watching my dad race, I told myself I wanted to be out there racing against my dad.”
Enders drove her GK Racing Chevy Cobalt straight to the winner’s circle for the second time in her career in the tough conditions at Pacific Raceways.
“I’m soproud of my guys because they won this race today,” Enders said. “They gave me a great car for me to drive, and we drove it right to the winner’s circle. I’m honored to be their driver, and hopefully we can get a few more wins before the season is over. If we can position ourselves well before the Countdown begins, this is a good time to be starting to gain momentum.”
Enders took out three of the heavy hitters in Pro Stock en route to her second career victory including four-time Pro Stock world champ Greg Anderson in the quarterfinals, points leader and the winner of the past two events Allen Johnson in the semifinals, and reigning Pro Stock world champ Jason Line in the final round.
“Beating those guys [Greg Anderson, Allen Johnson, and Jason Line] is something elsebecause they’ve always been on the top of my list, guys that I’ve looked up to my entire life. Allen and Pam are very good friends of mine. I knew that [Allen] wanted to sweep [the Western Swing], but I told him I was going to take that dagum broom out of his hand, and he wasn’t leaving here with it. I’m just very proud to do it for Gaston Kirby and the team.”
With the win, Enders clinched her spot in the Countdown to the Championship, NHRA’s playoffs that start in Charlotte, Sept. 14-16.
Texas native Torrence also had a successful weekend in the Northwest as he earned his first victory at Pacific Raceways. The hot conditions made it tough for the CapcoContractors Top Fuel team but they made the most of their day earning theirthird win of the season.
“We’ll take them anyway we can get them,” Torrence said. “It wasn’t pretty. We definitely had to work for it today, but we got our third win of the season and I’m so proud of my team.”
Torence raced fellow young-gun pilot Shawn Langdon and his Al-Anabi Racing dragster in the final round. The final-round wasn’t a picture perfect pass, but Torrence’s 4.168-second pass at 261.98 mph was enough to take out a tire-smoking Langdon.
“Shawn had me nervous in the final,” Torrence said. “He’s a great leaver and a great race car driver. Alan Johnson has had that Al-Anabi car runnin’ all day. I counted on Richard Hogan and had a lot of confidence and did my job. I felt it start to knock the tire off in the final round and went as quick as I could to get it back going. Today, we were just on the right side. We’re living lucky.”
Torrence also clinched his spot in the Countdown to the Championship.
Seattle-native Megan Ellingson also won Super Street in the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, NHRA's sportsman category, making even more history as this is the first NHRA event where three women have claimed victories across all categories of NHRA competition.
The next NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event is the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, Aug. 16-19 at Brainerd International Raceway in Brainerd, Minn.
SATURDAY - JOHNSON, CAPPS AND MASSEY SECURE TOP QUALIFYING SPOTS AT PACIFIC RACEWAYS
Pro Stock points leader Allen Johnson secured his sixth straight No. 1 qualifying position at the 25th annual O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Northwest Nationals presented by Super Start Batteries at Pacific Raceways.
Don Schumacher Racing teammates Spencer Massey (Top Fuel) and Ron Capps (Funny Car) also led their qualifying fields at the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event.
Johnson powered his Mopar Dodge Avenger to the No. 1 position with his 6.554 second pass at 211.66 mph Friday evening. He earned the maximum amount of qualifying bonus points during the Western Swing by making the quickest run of every qualifying round since the Denver event.
"It was warm today and we hurt a motor early, but in the fourth qualifying session we went out there and ran well so I think we have a good race day tune-up for the hot track tomorrow," Johnson said. "I thought we'd run a little better and we missed the tune-up a little bit, but we were still able to go low of the round. This Hemi is running awesome."
Not only has Johnson secured the No. 1 qualifying position for the past six races, he's also won the first two stops of the Western Swing in Denver and Sonoma and has his sights on becoming just the eighth driver to even sweep the elusive Western Swing.
"Anytime you can put your name in the record books of any kind is awesome," Johnson said. "The Western Swing has some sort of aura about it, so it would be great to become the eighth guy to ever sweep the Swing but we'll see what happens tomorrow."
Johnson isn't the only one who hopes to add their name to the record books during eliminations Sunday. Top Fuel driver Antron Brown also has a shot to become the first driver to ever sweep the Western Swing twice.
"We've had a great Western Swing so far no matter what happens Sunday," Brown said. "My Matco boys have been killing it out here, they've been digging deep. You have to dig deep just to even win one race out here, let alone try and sweep the Swing. I know I have a great race car behind me. Tomorrow is going to be a tough, hot day so we just have to take it one round at a time."
As much as Brown would like to sweep the Swing with a win at Pacific Raceways, he knows that he's got an uphill battle in the ultra-competitive Top Fuel class.
"We've got Clay Millican first round and that will be a tough match up. That team has been running very well," Brown said. "We'll take it one round at a time and if we get past them then we'll see what happens in round two. We're hoping for a very long Sunday but we'll have to wait and see what happens."
Brown's DSR teammate Massey earned the No. 1 spot in Top Fuel thanks to his Friday evening qualifying session when his Top Fuel dragster laid down a 3.837 second pass at 319.60 mph.
"Our goal in qualifying was to get data for raceday and we ran great Friday and ran pretty good in the heat today," Massey said. "The conditions should be about the same tomorrow and we have a race car that can get down the hot track so I think we're ready for raceday."
The 29-year old driver, who is also the point leader in Top Fuel, has never won at Pacific Raceways but is hoping that will change tomorrow. Massey will face Washington-native Ron Smith in the opening round of eliminations Sunday.
"We have Ron Smith tomorrow and he's a guy that comes out once a year; we have to watch out for guys like that," Massey said. "We have to make sure we don't let him play spoiler. We're going to stick to our game plan and try not to beat ourselves and hopefully that will get us to go some rounds tomorrow."
In Funny Car, Capps also maintained the top spot in his NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger thanks to his 4.119 second pass at 298.47 mph during the second qualifying session Friday, which held up as the quickest Funny Car pass of qualifying.
"Being number one is always nice but you can never take anyone for granted on race day," Capps said. "Anything can happen, but I've had great mojo here in the past and I'm hoping that continues."
The veteran driver loves coming to Pacific Raceways thanks to all of the success he's had at this track throughout his 17-year driving career. It is the home of his first career win back in 1995, and he has two other wins here in seven final-round appearances.
"I feel good," Capps said. "I've been here as the 14th or 15th qualifier and won from the bottom before so I know we can win from any position here. We got down the track today on the hot track so we'll sleep good tonight, and I'll be on my game tomorrow.
Sunday’s eliminations start at 11 a.m.
Sunday's first-round pairings for eliminations for the 25th annual O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Northwest Nationals presented by SuperStart Batteries at Pacific Raceways, the 15th of 23 events in the NHRA FullThrottle Drag Racing Series. Pairings based on results in qualifying, whichended Saturday. DNQs listed below pairings.
Top Fuel -- 1. Spencer Massey, 3.837 seconds, 319.60 mph vs. 16. Ron Smith, 5.088, 235.35; 2. Tony Schumacher, 3.837,318.02 vs. 15. Scott Palmer, 4.259, 214.79; 3. Steve Torrence, 3.838, 319.37 vs. 14. Steven Chrisman, 4.176, 281.30; 4. Shawn Langdon, 3.842, 316.23 vs. 13. Terry McMillen, 4.036, 299.20; 5.Antron Brown, 3.842, 316.23 vs. 12. Clay Millican, 3.912, 312.78; 6. Khalid alBalooshi, 3.857, 317.34 vs. 11. Bob Vandergriff, 3.906, 310.77; 7. Doug Kalitta, 3.859, 312.57 vs. 10. Brandon Bernstein, 3.893, 313.44; 8. Morgan Lucas, 3.864, 318.62 vs. 9. David Grubnic, 3.873, 312.42.
Funny Car -- 1. Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 4.119, 298.47 vs. 16. Jeff Diehl, Chevy Monte Carlo, 4.337, 271.35; 2. Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.121, 302.82 vs. 15. Gary Densham, Charger, 4.324, 289.20; 3. Cruz Pedregon, Toyota Camry, 4.125, 300.53 vs. 14. Courtney Force, Ford Mustang, 4.237, 262.44; 4. Johnny Gray, Charger, 4.147, 300.86 vs. 13. Robert Hight, Mustang, 4.226, 292.27; 5. Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.157, 296.89 vs. 12. Jeff Arend, Camry, 4.222, 295.85; 6. Mike Neff, Mustang, 4.161, 297.16 vs. 11. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 4.213, 298.47; 7. Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 4.165,293.54 vs. 10. John Force, Mustang, 4.193, 291.57; 8. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.174, 296.18 vs. 9. Tony Pedregon, Camry, 4.186, 284.75. Did Not Qualify: 17. Joshua Crawford, 4.398, 274.89; 18. Todd Lesenko, 4.416, 271.73.
Pro Stock -- 1. Allen Johnson, Dodge Avenger, 6.554, 211.66 vs. 16. Matt Hartford, Avenger, 6.685, 208.55; 2. VincentNobile, Avenger, 6.564, 210.87 vs. 15. Mark Wolfe, Ford Mustang,6.674, 207.62; 3. Mike Edwards, Pontiac GXP, 6.573, 210.97 vs. 14. JR Carr, Mustang, 6.637, 207.27; 4. Erica Enders, Chevy Cobalt, 6.573, 210.73 vs. 13. Ron Krisher, GXP, 6.630, 209.56; 5. Greg Anderson, Chevy Camaro, 6.577, 210.97 vs. 12. Kurt Johnson, GXP, 6.629, 209.04; 6. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.587, 210.54 vs. 11. Jeg Coughlin, Avenger, 6.612, 210.05; 7. V. Gaines, Avenger, 6.599, 210.70 vs. 10. Larry Morgan, Mustang, 6.606, 209.65; 8. Warren Johnson, GXP, 6.599, 209.95 vs. 9. Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.603, 210.01.
FRIDAY - CAPPS, MASSEY AND JOHNSON LEAD QUALIFYING AT PACIFIC RACEWAYS
Veteran driver Ron Capps raced to the Funny Car qualifying lead at the 25th annual O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Northwest Nationals presented by Super Start Batteries at Pacific Raceways.
Point leaders Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) and Spencer Massey (Top Fuel) were also qualifying leaders at the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event.
Capps' 4.119 second pass at 298.47 mph during the second qualifying session Friday was quickest of the day for the 8,000 horsepower NHRA Funny Car class. Capps has a lot of history at Pacific Raceways; it is the home of his first career victory in 1995, when he beat NHRA legend Connie Kalitta in the Top Fuel final. The NAPA Auto Parts pilot has three victories at the track and four runner-up finishes, making it a favorite of the popular driver.
"We talked about mojo earlier and I must say that we have something here at Seattle," Capps said. "I didn't expect to go to the top but I'm glad we did. We'll just have to wait and see what happens Sunday. I'm not sure what it is, but I just love coming here and always have, ever since my rookie season."
Massey ran the quickest pass of the day during the second qualifying session, edging out his Don Schumacher Racing teammate Tony Schumacher for the qualifying lead with a 3.837 second pass at 319.60 mph. Schumacher equaled Massey's e.t. But was relegated to the no. 2 spot based on speed.
"Being number one is always what we want to do, but to actually come out and do it here makes it even that much better," Massey said. "We've been running really well lately. We went to the final round last weekend and got beat by our teammate Antron Brown, and here we come out and go no. 1 just by a little bit over Tony, it just shows that our DSR program is really great."
The driver of the FRAM/Prestone Top Fuel dragster has never been to a final round at Pacific Raceways in his Top Fuel career but the first time he reached a final round in his NHRA Drag Racing career was at Pacific Raceways in 2006, in the Top Alcohol Dragster category, which makes this track special for Massey as well.
"I've got a little bit of history here and I'd like to make some more of my own history here in Top Fuel as well and try get to a Wally here this weekend," Massey said. "We have an agenda and that agenda is to stay in the point lead heading into the Countdown, and we're doing our best to make that happen."
Johnson powered his Mopar Dodge Avenger to the provisional No. 1 position in Pro Stock with his 6.554-second pass at 211.66 mph under the sunny Northwest conditions Friday afternoon during qualifying for the final leg of of the Western Swing. Johnson has been the No. 1 qualifier at the past five events and eight times this season. He has made the quickest run of every qualifying session since the start of the Western Swing.
"We're just taking it round by round," Johnson said. "The Mopar Dodge Avenger is bad to the bone right now. We're just having fun and enjoying the highs right now because there are a lot of lows in the sport of NHRA Drag Racing. So we're really taking it round by round and enjoying it as it comes."
Qualifying continues Saturday with sessions at 12:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Sunday’s eliminations start at 11 a.m.
Friday's results after the first two of four rounds of qualifying for the 25th annual O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Northwest Nationals presented by Super Start Batteries at Pacific Raceways, 15th of 23 events in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series. Qualifying will continue Saturday for Sunday's final eliminations.
Top Fuel -- 1. Spencer Massey, 3.837 seconds,319.60 mph; 2. Tony Schumacher, 3.837, 318.02; 3. Steve Torrence, 3.838, 319.37; 4. Shawn Langdon, 3.842, 316.23; 5. Antron Brown, 3.842, 311.63; 6. Khalid alBalooshi, 3.857, 317.34; 7. Doug Kalitta, 3.861, 309.63; 8. Morgan Lucas,3.864, 318.62; 9. David Grubnic, 3.873, 312.42; 10. Bob Vandergriff, 3.906, 310.77; 11. Brandon Bernstein, 3.911, 313.44; 12. Clay Millican, 3.918, 312.78. Not Qualified: 13. Steven Chrisman, 4.167, 259.31; 14. Ron Smith, 4.573, 235.35; 15. Terry McMillen, 4.784, 182.67; 16. Scott Palmer, 5.488, 121.40.
Funny Car -- 1. Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 4.119, 298.47; 2. Jack Beckman, Charger, 4.121, 302.82; 3. Cruz Pedregon, Toyota Camry, 4.125, 300.53; 4. Johnny Gray, Charger, 4.156, 300.86; 5. Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.157, 296.89; 6. Mike Neff, Ford Mustang, 4.161, 297.16; 7. Alexis DeJoria, Camry, 4.165, 293.54; 8. Jeff Arend, Camry, 4.224, 295.85; 9. John Force, Mustang, 4.232, 290.38; 10. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.244, 292.27; 11. Robert Hight, Mustang, 4.263, 263.20; 12. Tony Pedregon, Camry, 4.266, 280.14. Not Qualified: 13. Courtney Force, 4.272, 262.08; 14. Gary Densham, 4.306, 289.20; 15. Joshua Crawford, 4.467, 239.31; 16. Jeff Diehl, 4.836, 178.21; 17. Todd Lesenko, 6.434, 87.70; 18. Bob Tasca III, 7.604, 87.45.
Pro Stock -- 1. Allen Johnson, Dodge Avenger,6.554, 211.66; 2. Vincent Nobile, Avenger, 6.564, 210.87; 3. Mike Edwards, Pontiac GXP, 6.573, 210.97; 4. Erica Enders, Chevy Cobalt, 6.573, 210.73; 5. Greg Anderson, Chevy Camaro, 6.577, 210.97; 6. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.597, 210.54; 7. V. Gaines, Avenger, 6.599, 210.70; 8. Warren Johnson, GXP, 6.599, 209.95; 9. Shane Gray, Camaro, 6.603, 210.01; 10. Larry Morgan,Ford Mustang, 6.606, 209.65; 11. Jeg Coughlin, Avenger, 6.612, 210.05; 12. Kurt Johnson, GXP, 6.629, 209.04. Not Qualified: 13. Ron Krisher, 6.637, 209.56; 14. Mark Wolfe, 6.645, 207.62; 15. Matt Hartford, 6.668, 208.55; 16. JR Carr, 17.476, 46.22.
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