NHRA Funny Car icon John Force and Pro Stock Motorcycle rider Matt Smith became the first two 2013 champions crowned in the NHRA Countdown to the Championship after winning in their respective categories in the NHRA Toyota Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Antron Brown (Top Fuel) and Shane Gray (Pro Stock) also took home Wallys from Sunday’s event, the next-to-last race on the 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series calendar.
Force recorded his third-straight win in the Funny Car category, besting youngest daughter Courtney in final round to secure his 16th Funny Car championship. The Force family patriarch, who also took the No. 1 qualifier for the race, earned round wins against Gary Densham, Del Worsham and Alexis DeJoria on his way to his fourth-straight final-round appearance in the Countdown.
Smith, the No. 4 qualifier in PSM, took round wins against Andrew Hines, LE Tonglet and Shawn Gann on his way to the finals against Jerry Savoie, where he earned his fourth Wally of the season and third-straight in the Countdown. This is Smith’s second PSM title; his father, Rickie Smith, captured the NHRA Pro Mod championship in September at St. Louis.
Brown won his fourth Wally of the season with a final-round win over Clay Millican. Brown, the No. 6 qualifier in Top Fuel, took round wins over Bob Vandergriff Jr., Tony Schumacher and Brandon Bernstein on his way to the finals. He’s now 102 points back of points leader Shawn Langdon with one race remaining.
Gray came from the No. 4 spot on the Pro Stock ladder to beat Matt Hartford, Jason Line and Kurt Johnson on his way to the finals against V. Gaines. He became the eighth different winner in the Pro Stock category this season.
The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series wraps up its 2013 campaign back where it started in February: Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, California for the Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals, Thursday through Sunday, November 7th through 10th. Keep up with the action at www.nhra.com.
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