2013 NHRA WINTERNATS - EVENT RESULTS

Written by NHRA Communications; Photos by Roger Richards, Joel Gelfand, Marty Reger.

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SUNDAY - FUNNY CAR DRIVER COURTNEY FORCE VICTORIOUS AT MELLO YELLO SEASON-OPENER
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Courtney Force raced to victory in Funny Car Sunday at the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals presented by Super Start Batteries at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.
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Shawn Langdon (Top Fuel) and Vincent Nobile (Pro Stock) also were winners at the first of 24 events in the 2013 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.
 
Force powered her Traxxas Ford Mustang past NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger driver Ron Capps with a pass of 4.025 seconds at 317.12 mph to earn her second career victory.
 
“It was definitely unbelievable,” Force said. “My team, (crew chiefs) Ron Douglas and Dan Hood, thanks to them, they had given me great race car all weekend long. I just try to keep it straight down the center and they really made my job easy. I really owe it to those guys. It was kind of bittersweet finishing here (at the NHRA Finals in November) and not getting that win, then coming back and picking up where we left off and finishing our job. We got the win and I’m just proud of my team.”
 
In Top Fuel, Langdon drove his Al-Anabi Racing dragster to the win with his pass of 3.721 at 322.27, defeating seven-time champion Tony Schumacher and the U.S. Army team. In front of a hometown crowd, Langdon said the second victory is so much sweeter than the first.
 
“Couldn’t have scripted it any better really,” Langdon said. “We struggled a little in qualifying. We didn’t really have the car that we thought we should have had, but we qualified seventh. We knew the things we learned in testing that we had a car capable of winning. It showed today.”
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In the second round of eliminations, 2012 world champion Antron Brown’s Matco Tools dragster went out of control and crashed near the finish line. Brown emerged from the crashed car under his own power and was checked and released by NHRA emergency services officials. He received only very minor injuries in the incident.
 
“I am feeling good,” Brown said. “I’ve got some scrapes on my legs and my back is a little sore, but overall I feel good. The best feeling was seeing how quickly the NHRA Safety Safari got to my car after it stopped. The car did its job and we’ll be ready for Phoenix.”
 
Nobile claimed his sixth Pro Stock victory with a performance of 6.571 at 211.03 in his Mountain View Tire Dodge Avenger, taking the automatic victory over Jeg Coughlin, who turned on the red light at the starting line and fouled out in his JEGS.com/Mopar Dodge Avenger.
 
“It’s pretty awesome leaving here with the points lead,” said Nobile. “That’s every team’s goal. Now we just want to stay there, stay consistent and keep the wins coming.”
 
The Mello Yello Drag Racing Series rolls in to Phoenix Feb. 22-24 for the NHRA Arizona Nationals at Firebird International Raceway which will be aired on ESPN2HD.
 


SATURDAY - FORCE, SCHUMACHER AND EDWARDS RACE TO NO. 1 QUALIFYING POSITIONS
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Courtney Force raced to her first No. 1 qualifying position of the season Saturday at the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals presented by Super Start Batteries.
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Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel) and Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) also will lead their categories into Sunday’s 11 a.m. eliminations at the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season-opener at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.
 
Force grabbed the No. 1 spot from Friday’s leader Jack Beckman in her Traxxas Ford Mustang with a performance of 4.036 seconds at 318.24 mph. This is her first No. 1 qualifier at Pomona and third of her career.
 
“I’m really excited because it’s my home track,” Force said. “I’m pretty excited that we got the No. 1 spot, but I’ve still got to focus and not get distracted by anything. It’s definitely exciting to have (sister) Brittany running (in Top Fuel). She is my best friend and really amazing to be living our passion and drive 300 mph race cars. There are not a lot of families that can say that. It’s really unique to be doing it with my dad (John Force) and family.”
 
Force will line up against Phil Burkart in the first round of eliminations. Her father John, the defending event winner, qualified 11th while teammate Robert Hight is 12th.  Defending Funny Car world champion Jack Beckman qualified second in the field followed by Gary Densham, Del Worsham and Cruz Pedregon.
 
In Top Fuel, Schumacher powered his U. S. Army dragster to the 72nd No. 1 qualifying position of his career with his pass of 3.753 at 324.05.
 
“It was a great to be the number one,” Schumacher said. “That was a phenomenal run. That’s a consistent race car and doing some great stuff. The conditions aren’t going to change at Pomona. We are running really good and assume the other cars are going to run good too. Great cars make you rise to the occasion and do a great job. Fans pay big money to see a good race.”
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In the opening round Schumacher will face Brazilian rookie Sidnei Frigo, who rounded out the quickest Top Fuel field in NHRA history. Brandon Bernstein took the second spot in his Protect the Harvest/MAVTV dragster with a performance of 3.761 at 325.22, while defending Top Fuel world champion Antron Brown qualified fourth in his Matco Tools dragster.
 
Edwards took the top spot in Pro Stock for the 42nd time with a performance of 6.528 at 212.39 in his Interstate Batteries/I Am Second Chevy Camaro.  He will open eliminations against Chris McGaha at an event he has won one time in three final round attempts.
 
“I’m ecstatic and real proud of my guys,” Edwards said. “We did a phenomenal job. It’s going to be interesting tomorrow and we’ll see what happens but real proud. I think you’ll see some real good runs by the Pro Stockers tomorrow. This is an exciting way to start the season.”
 
Veteran driver V. Gaines qualified second in his Kendall Oil Avenger with a performance of 6.538 at 211.49. Defending Pro Stock world champion Allen Johnson qualified 10th for his first event in the 2013 season.

 

FRIDAY - SCHUMACHER, BECKMAN AND EDWARDS TAKE QUALIFYING LEADS
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Tony Schumacher raced to the qualifying lead in dramatic fashion Friday at the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals presented by Super Start Batteries.
 
Jack Beckman (Funny Car) and Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) were also qualifying leaders at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona during the 2013 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season opener.
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Schumacher drove his U.S. Army dragster to the provisional No. 1 spot with a 3.758 second run at 328.14 mph to lead the Top Fuel class. If the performance holds through two more rounds of qualifying, it will be his 72nd No. 1 of his career. During his run, Schumacher’s parachutes failed to deploy properly and his 8,000-horsepower machine came to a stop in the sand trap at the end of the track. He was not injured.
 
“It was a great run,” Schumacher said. “From half-track to the finish line it was extremely fast. It was just a dynamite run. The parachute came out and it dropped for whatever reason. It could be a million different things that was the problem. Every time I would start to bounce I’m on and off the brakes because you’ve got to settle it down. I flipped the second parachute out and I don’t think it opened quick enough.”
 
Also in Top Fuel, Brandon Bernstein moved to second with his Thursday performance of 3.761 at 325.22, while 2012 world champion Antron Brown is currently third with a 3.768 at 328.14 in his Matco Tools dragster.
 
Reigning Funny Car champion Beckman powered his Valvoline/MTS Dodge Charger to the qualifying lead with a performance of 4.045 at 316.67.
 
“We are half way through qualifying,” said Beckman. “We’re not even close to declaring who’s going to take the No. 1 position. It was gratifying because we struggled on the first run, and it was gratifying because that first run and the 19 test runs we made in the off season didn’t really go the way we had hoped they would. We thought we had a pretty good hot rod at the end of last year.”
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Gary Densham moved to second with his Thursday run of 4.053 at 307.09, while 2012 Rookie of the Year Courtney Force is currently in third place with a 4.071 at 311.49 in her Traxxas Ford Mustang.
 
In Pro Stock, Edwards knocked off V. Gaines to secure the qualifying lead with a 6.528 pass at 212.39 mph in his Interstate Batteries/I Am Second Pontiac GXP.
 
“I’m very excited,” Edwards said. “We came here with a brand new car and got three new members on our team and we came here just hoping to qualify.  After two days, to do this, we’re ecstatic. I’ve been coming here for 20 years and I don’t think I’ve ever made a run like that in that right hand lane. It’s had its hold on me for a long time, but it’s very gratifying to come out here and run like that.”
 
Gaines was second in Pro Stock with a 6.538 at 211.49 in his Kendall Oil Dodge Avenger followed by Erica Enders-Stevens, who posted a 6.539 at 212.23 in her GK Racing Chevy Camaro.
 
Qualifying continues Saturday at noon and 2 p.m. Eliminations are scheduled for Sunday at 11 a.m.

 

THURSDAY - BERNSTEIN, DENSHAM AND GAINES LEAD QUALIFYING AT POMONA
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Brandon Bernstein continued the momentum from his win in last year’s season-finale by racing to the qualifying lead in Top Fuel Thursday at the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals presented by Super Start Batteries.
 
Gary Densham (Funny Car) and V. Gaines (Pro Stock) also were qualifying leaders at the 2013 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season opener at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.
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Bernstein drove his Protect the Harvest/MAV TV dragster to the provisional No. 1 spot with a 3.761 second pass at 325.22 mph in the Top Fuel class.  If the performance holds, it will be the 15th No. 1 of his career.
 
“The Protect the Harvest/MAV TV car came out of the gates real good,” Bernstein said.  “It felt like a really good run. It’s nice to be in that No.1 right now. There’s a lot of racing left. That win at the end of the year gave us a tremendous boost of confidence. The competition is so tight. This weekend is going to be even tougher.”
 
Also in Top Fuel, seven-time world champion Tony Schumacher is in the second spot with a 3.777 at 326.08 in his U.S Army dragster while Clay Millican sits with a 3.799 at 325.77 in his Auto-Plus dragster.
 
Veteran Funny Car driver Densham powered his Densham Motorsports Dodge Charger to the qualifying lead with a performance of 4.053 at 307.09.
 
“We have been very fortunate to qualify at every race and have a lot of fun doing it,” said Densham. “It was a good run. I feel I got the best team in drag racing. They do more with less than anybody out here and I think we’ve proved that every time we come out here. We’ll carry on the best we can. It’s gonna be a great weekend.”
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Last season’s top rookie Courtney Force is proving to be a sophomore sensation by taking the second spot in Funny Car with a 4.071 at 311.49 in her Traxxas Ford Mustang. Johnny Gray is third in his Pitch Energy Dodge Charger with a 4.087 at 308.78.
 
In Pro Stock, Gaines secured the qualifying lead with a 6.538 pass at 211.49 mph in his Kendall Oil Dodge Avenger.
 
“We had a really good end of last year and made a lot of progress,” Gaines said. “We’ve got a hot car and a fantastic engine program. We are looking forward to this year. For a single-car team to do what we’re doing I think it is phenomenal. It’s extremely gratifying when you’re doing it all yourself.”
 
Jason Line was second in Pro Stock with a 6.541 at 212.43 in his Summit Racing Chevy Camaro followed by Mike Edwards, who posted a 6.545 at 212.26 in his Interstate Batteries/I Am Second Pontiac GXP.
 
Qualifying continues Friday at 2 p.m. followed by the final two qualifying sessions Saturday at noon and 2 p.m. Eliminations are scheduled for Sunday at 11 a.m.
 

 


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