John Force Wins at Mile-High NHRA Nationals
Since win number 148 at Gatornationals in 2017, it has looked like the 69-year old NHRA Funny Car driver was likely headed to a well-deserved retirement. But, John Force has always been the exception and never the "rule". In eliminations at Bandimere Speedway outside Denver CO, John Force raced his way past a handful of the best-ever Funny Car drivers, such as his daughter and points leader Courtney Force, two-time champion Matt Hagan, and long-time rival Cruz Pedregon to faceoff with Ron Capps in finals for the NHRA Dodge Mile-High Nationals. Although the patriarch at John Force Racing has not had a good year with the Peak Chevy having blown up in four of the ten races, the ageless wonder moved into eighth place overall in chase for this season's championship with 10 events to go.
When the Peak Chevy Camaro and NAPA Dodge R/T rolled into the stagging lanes at the mile-high facility, race fans knew this was a special matchup, a race of legends. And, the oldest driver to ever win a NHRA Funny Car event didn't disappoint. It was a "Holeshot Win" for Force with a .037 RT to Capps .057 RT. Although the NAPA Dodge laid down the faster ET at 4.067, Force's 315.42 mph final pass in the E3 Spark Plugs' left lane was good enough to earn his one hundred and forty ninth Wally. An excited and passionate John Force wasn't short on words at the finish. Force thanked his father's longtime friend John Bandimere for his encouragement over the years and dedicated the race win to the track owner and a very special guest Kirstie Ennis, a U.S. Marine who lost her leg in Afghanistan.
The historical weekend of great NHRA finals started in Pro Stock. After a seasonal full of number-one qualifying runs, Greg Anderson (driving the red Summit Racing Equipment Camaro) lined up for the finals against Jason Line (driving the blue Summit Racing Equipment Camaro) for a close "Hole Shot" win with a 6.943-second ET to Line's 6.947-second pass. Anderson's .015-second reaction time was good enough to earn him his first Wally since Las Vegas last year. In Top Fuel, Leah Pritchett and Doug Kalitta pushed into stagging with one of the two guaranteed to join Steve Torrence and Clay Millican as mutliple-time winners in Top Fuel for 2018. Obviously, the drag racing gods smiled on Bandimere Speedway this weekend as fans saw another great race, when Leah Pritchett grabbed the win with a margin of victory of .0024 seconds. Although Kalitta managed the holeshot, Pritchett rode the E3 Spark Plugs lane for her 10th career overall race win.
Next up for the NHRA championship teams is a trip west to Sonoma CA for the 2018 Toyota NHRA Sonoma Nationals on July 27-29 at less than 100 feet above sea level.