(Photos courtesy NHRA/National Dragster)
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.”
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.
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 first career 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 so proud 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.
I’m so proud of my guys because they won this race today.
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 Capco Contractors 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.
Sunday’s final results from the 25th annual O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Northwest Nationals presented by Super Start Batteries at Pacific Raceways. The race is the 15th of 23 in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series:
Top Fuel — Steve Torrence, 4.168 seconds, 261.98 mph def. Shawn Langdon, 4.329 seconds, 254.57 mph.
Funny Car — Courtney Force, Ford Mustang, 4.238, 293.54 def. Matt Hagan, Dodge Charger, 4.328, 276.58.
Pro Stock — Erica Enders, Chevy Cobalt, 6.614, 209.65 def. Jason Line, Chevy Camaro, 6.631, 209.72.
Top Alcohol Dragster — Chris Demke, 11.370, 46.05 def. Jim Whiteley, 11.763, 50.91.
Top Alcohol Funny Car — John Evanchuk, Chevy Monte Carlo, 6.582, 230.88 def. Steve Gasparrelli, Monte Carlo, 6.803, 244.92.
Competition Eliminator — Mike DePalma, Pontiac Trans Am, 8.999, 149.93 def.Brandon Huhtala, Pontiac GXP, 7.344, 186.85.
Super Stock — Joe Sorensen, Chevy Camaro, 10.321, 121.65 def. Jody Lang, Chevy Malibu, 10.877, 120.20.
Stock Eliminator — Brad Plourd, Chevy Nova, 12.562, 95.13 def. DallasGlenn, Chevy Corvette, 10.870, 120.16.
Super Comp — Brad Plourd, Dragster, 8.925, 157.48 def. Stefan Kondolay, Dragster, 8.899, 171.51.
Super Gas — Ken Mostowich, Chevy Corvette, 9.896, 166.70 def. Mike Shannon, Corvette, 9.892, 154.46.
Super Street — Megan Ellingson, Chevy Chevelle, 10.849, 134.50 def. Jason Gibson, Ford Mustang, foul.
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.”
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.
“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.