POMONA, Calif. (November 12, 2017) Nine long months. Twenty-four excruciating events. We’re back at the racetrack where the season first season began, for the conclusion of the 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. It was an emotional day as not only were there race winners, but world champions were also crowned.
The most emotional category to watch today was Top Fuel. Brittany Force was four points behind points leader, Steve Torrence going into the first round of final eliminations on Sunday. Both drivers got past the opening round and had to face tough customers in the next. Steve Torrence had to race defending world champion, Antron Brown. While Force needed to get past Richie Crampton to keep her championship hopes alive. Torrence’s dream was put on the line when Brown’s 3.961 second pass at 328.30 mph got around his 3.695 second run at 328.46 mph. All Torrence could do was sit and wait to see what Brittany Force was going to do later in the round. Force was first off the starting line and first to the stripe. Her 3.679 second lap at 328.22 mph was more than enough to get by Crampton’s 3.757 second run at 323.81. By doing so, Force picked up her very first Top Fuel world championship. However, the day was not over for her; she went on to defeat Antron Brown in the semis to race Shawn Langdon in the final. Langdon out-raced Tony Schumacher, Leah Pritchett, and Doug Kalitta earlier in the day. Shawn Langdon had been running strong all day but in the final round, he went right into tire shake at the hit of the throttle and could only muster a 9.818 second lap at 89.10 mph. Force powered her way to the win in 3.668 seconds at 330.07 mph, her best run of the day. “We’ve had an incredible day. I still haven’t wrapped my head around everything that’s happened. It’s a dream. I don’t know if I ever thought we would be here,” Force revealed. “Just to lock everything up like we did is pretty incredible.” She continued, “ I have to thank Alan Johnson, Brian Husen, and my entire Monster Energy team for that.”
This is Force’s fourth win of the season and the seventh of her career. This is her first Top Fuel world championship.
Today was very eventful for the Funny Car category. The championship fight between Robert Hight and Ron Capps was decided in the opening round. Capps had a stunning loss against part-time racer, Gary Densham. When Hight got by Tim Wilkerson, it was all over; Hight became a two-time world champion. The excitement didn’t end there. Hight raced Matt Hagan before he raced his teammate, Courtney Force in the semis. Force went into tire shake around the eight-mile mark and Hight drove to the win-light. Unfortunately, his engine blew up and caught fire towards the finish line and he crossed the center line and hit the left guard wall. Hight’s parachutes didn’t deploy until a few hundred feet before the sand trap and it wasn’t enough to slow him down. Robert Hight went straight into the sand trap and was caught by the net which stopped his car from going any further. His team was forced to bring a backup car out in order to make the final. Hight’s final round opponent, Tommy Johnson Jr. also sent his Funny Car into the sand trap during the second round, but only had to replace the body. Johnson took down his teammate Jack Beckman in the semis. Tommy Johnson Jr. powered down the track in 3.920 seconds at 329.10 mph for the win over 2017 world champion, Robert Hight’s 6.827 second effort at 103.71 mph. “We’ve had a tough year with the loss of Terry [Chandler], such a great person. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for her; she gave me the opportunity. I sat out for five years and she gave me the opportunity to drive for her,” said Johnson. “To lose her this season was very tough on our entire team and we had four runner-ups throughout the season trying to get a win for Terry. Last opportunity of the season, I was determined to do it so I kept thinking all day ‘Man, I’d love to get a win for Terry to close out the season, it’s the right thing to do.’” He continued, “Last time we took pictures in the Winners Circle with Terry was here last year, I said ‘If we happen to get there today, she’ll still be here.’ and she definitely was.”
This is Johnson’s second race victory of the year and the seventeenth of his career. This is the second year in a row that Johnson has won this event. He finished sixth in the points.
The final of Pro Stock was an intense one; it determined the Pro Stock World Championship. Coming into this event KB Racing teammates Greg Anderson, Bo Butner, and Jason Line all had a shot at winning the title. Line red-lit against Tanner Gray and took himself out of the championship fight. Anderson lost to Butner in the semis, which put Butner at an advantage but he still needed to win the next round in order to take the championship away from Greg Anderson. In the last round Tanner Gray was .022 on the Christmas tree and had the early lead but a punctured tire would allow Bo Butner, who left the line 0.51 seconds after the light turned green, to drive around for the race win and the world championship. Butner’s winning lap of 6.554 seconds at 210.70 mph was more than enough to overtake Gray’s 6.653 second run at 208.62 mph. “Long season, it was a very tough season; we were all kinda bunched together. My team and the KB team, they give me the best.” He continued, “I probably didn’t drive the best today but when it’s your day… God blesses us. I was blessed today,” Butner said.
This is Butner’s fifth win of the season as well as his career, and his first Pro Stock World Championship.
Pro Stock Motorcycle
It wasn’t enough for Vance & Hines Screamin’ Eagle Harley-Davidson to win the Pro Stock Motorcycle World Championship on Saturday. They also went on to win the national event on Sunday. Teammates, Eddie Krawiec and Andrew Hines squared off in the final round. 2017 World Champion, Eddie Krawiec flew past Lance Bonham, Jerry Savoie, and Matt Smith in the first three rounds. Andrew Hines bested Ryan Oehler, Joey Gladstone, and LE Tonglet before he took on his teammate. Krawiec shot off the starting line with a .005 reaction time, while Hines left with a slower .031 reaction, but Krawiec’s bike started to slow as they approached the quarter-mile. Hines managed to ride past Krawiec with his 6.856 second elapsed time at 196.02 mph for the win. Krawiec ran his slowest lap of the day, 6.930 seconds at 177.58 mph. “It was a long year for my side of the team, at least. We had a pretty good struggle there in the middle of the season with both of our Street Rods. Our team found ways to make ourselves better. Figure out how to tune better, figure out how to make the motorcycles more consistent, and that’s what I’m most proud about. What we had to overcome to get back to the level that we expect of ourselves,” Hines explained.
This is Hines’ first win of the season and the forty-eight of his career. This is his fourteenth consecutive season with at least one race win. He finished After winning the championship yesterday, Eddie Krawiec expressed his desire to win the championship as well as Sunday’s race, something he’s never been able to accomplish at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, his quest will continue next season.