Courtney Force kicked off her sophomore season in Funny Car by earning the No. 1 spot at the NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, California. Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel) and Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) also earned No. 1s in the 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series opener.
Force’s fast pass of 4.036 seconds (318.24 mph) knocked 2012 Funny Car champ Jack Beckman back to second (4.045 seconds/317.05 mph). Force faces Phil Burkart in the first round of eliminations on Sunday. Gary Densham, Del Worsham and Cruz Pedregon complete the Funny Car top five.
“I’m really excited because it’s my home track,” said Force. “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.”
Schumacher held onto the Top Fuel No. 1 spot with his pass of 3.758 seconds (328.14 mph) from Friday. Brandon Bernstein held onto second with his run of 3.761 seconds (325.22 mph) from Thursday. Schumacher faces rookie Sidnei Frigo in the first round of eliminations. Doug Kalitta, 2012 champ Antron Brown and Dave Grubnic round out the top five in Top Fuel.
“It was great to be the number one,” said Schumacher. “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.”
Edwards also held onto the Pro Stock No. 1 with his Friday time of 6.528 seconds (212.39 mph) and will meet Chris McGaha in the first round Sunday. V. Gaines maintained the second spot with his Thursday run of 6.538 seconds (211.49 mph), while Erica Enders-Stevens held onto third with Friday’s pass of 6.539 seconds (212.23 mph). Jason Line and Vincent Nobile qualified fourth and fifth on the 16-car field.
“I’m ecstatic and real proud of my guys,” said Edwards. “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.”
Quotes in this piece provided by the NHRA.
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