The first one was won by Shirley Muldowney – No. 100 goes to Courtney Force.
Funny Car driver Courtney Force took home the Wally from Heartland Park Topeka on Sunday, earning the 100th win by a female driver in NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series history. Force, celebrating her fourth career victory, is one of 14 female drivers to have won in Mello Yello Series competition.
Spencer Massey (Top Fuel) and Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) also picked up Wallys from the NHRA Kansas Nationals on Sunday.
“There’s just a lot of emotion right now,” said Force, who was the No. 1 qualifier in Funny Car. “It’s been a long weekend. I’m so proud of my Traxxas Ford Mustang team and I am happy to win it for all of the girls who have won races in NHRA over the years. They all know how to win.”
Force earned the win in her second-straight final-round appearance; last weekend, she lost to her brother-in-law Robert Hight.
“It’s huge,” said Force, who earned early round wins over Dale Creasy Jr., Jeff Arend and Tommy Johnson Jr. “You can see the emotions on my face after the loss in the final round last weekend. It’s a big deal. It’s a milestone for women, and every girl out here wanted to get it. Every girl put their heart out into it. I was crushed last weekend, because I thought that opportunity would never come around again. I’m still trying to soak it all in right now.”
Force was presented a special Wally with a commemorative pink 100th female win faceplate and design on the trophy’s bottom.
“This is for all the girls out there in any type of sport, any motorsport,” said Force. “It’s an exciting day for us. It’s an honor to be number 100 on a list of the legends like Shirley Muldowney, Angelle Sampey, Melanie Troxel, Erica Enders-Stevens, Shelly Payne, Ashley (Force Hood – her sister), Alexis DeJoria, there are so many great names. My sister Brittany is so close. It’s an honor to be a part of it. We’ve hit 100, but there’s 100 more to go.”
Massey took his second-straight Top Fuel victory by defeating defending world champion Shawn Langdon in the final round. Massey earned round wins over his Don Schumacher Racing teammate Tony Schumacher, Terry McMillen and Brittany Force.
"It was a struggle that started with running (teammate) Tony Schumacher and every round after that," said Massey. "We kept trying to get the car to perform. Like everybody else we were trying to run a .70, but the car just wouldn't do it. We'd give it more clutch, then more clutch again, then more motor. It kept running a .86 and then an .87, but it was enough.”
“Whenever you get your momentum going, everything seems to fall into place,” continued Massey. “I like these races that are back-to-back-to-back. When the summer months come along and it gets hot, that weather works good with our tune-up.”
Johnson won his third Wally of the season and third at Topeka, beating teammate Jeg Coughlin in the final round.
"When we get to these altitude tracks, with a little bit of humidity – like here, Las Vegas and Denver, it seems like we excel,” said Johnson. “I was wondering where that was at all weekend until that second round, where we laid down a really good run. This team just keeps battling. Every single run, we're just attacking the car. To have half the wins (from the class) in our camp this year is a pretty good feeling."
Johnson defeated Larry Morgan, Shane Gray and points leader Erica Enders-Stevens to reach the finals; her defeat in the semi-finals ended Enders-Stevens bid to take the 100th win.
"She's (young), heck she can get the 200th," said Johnson. "I really wanted her to get that, to be honest. Jeg kept her from getting it last week and I kept her from getting it this week, so it's sort of bittersweet. She's a young lady with a big future ahead of her."
The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series heads to Englishtown, New Jersey next weekend, home of the 45th annual Toyota NHRA Summernationals, Thursday through Sunday, May 29th through June 1st. Keep up with the action at www.nhra.com.
Quotes in this piece provided by the NHRA.
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