In their first finals head-to-head matchup, Courtney Force claimed a memorable Funny Car victory against her legendary father on Sunday at the inaugural NHRA New England Nationals at New England Dragway.
Spencer Massey in Top Fuel and Allen Johnson in Pro Stock also were winners of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event, the 11th of 24 in the 2013 season.
Courtney Force earned her second victory in 2013 and third in her career, improving her overall record against her dad, John Force, a 15-time Funny Car world champion, to 4-2. It was their first meeting in the finals. Courtney Force, who lost to John in the first round at Bristol Dragway last weekend, outran Alexis DeJoria, Tim Wilkerson, and defending Funny Car world champion Jack Beckman to reach the championship round.
In the final round, Courtney Force powered her Ford Mustang to a winning performance of 4.301 seconds at 261.67 miles-per-hour, edging past John Force’s Mustang, which trailed with a 4.367 at 262.28.
“I definitely told him I was going to get some revenge (from last week) and we were able to do it. It was a lot of fun,” Courtney Force said. “We got down there, and our car got in a little bit of trouble, but I had my foot on the throttle hoping he wouldn’t catch up. After the win, he came over and hugged me and congratulated me. We were both really excited, and it was great for our team.”
With the win, Courtney Force moved to fourth in the points standings, while John Force, racing in his second straight final, jumped to fifth with the runner-up finish. Courtney Force also enjoyed the massive reaction from fans who packed New England Dragway all weekend for the NHRA’s debut at the track.
In Top Fuel, Massey claimed his second victory of the season and 12th of his career, knocking off points leader Shawn Langdon in the final round. Massey, who has advanced to finals in back-to-back weeks, covered the distance in 4.105 at 271.57 to knock off Langdon’s Al-Anabi Racing dragster, which smoked the tires early and finished with a 9.694 at 81.50.
“I’ve been jacked up all weekend, but I really wanted to win this inaugural event,” Massey said. “This whole area is filled with die-hard fans and they were so ready for NHRA drag racing, so this victory really means a lot to me. We were having the time of our life this weekend.”
Johnson, the defending Pro Stock world champion, claimed his third victory in 2013 and 19th for his career by outrunning Shane Gray in the final round on a holeshot. Johnson’s Dodge Avenger posted a 6.642 at 205.38 while Gray ran 6.633 at 210.34 in his Chevy Camaro. The difference came down to Johnson’s stellar .025 reaction time on the starting line.
“We had a great day and we just kept adapting to the track,” Johnson said. “Our team really worked hard and that was a fantastic run we put together in the finals. We made a radical change after the semifinals to get ready for the finals, and it really worked. We found something that will help the rest of the season.”
Pro Stock Championship point standings
1. Mike Edwards 1,003 2. Allen Johnson 879 3. Jeg Coughlin 843 4. Jason Line 711 5. Erica Enders-Stevens 687
Funny Car Championship point standings
1. Matt Hagan 788 2. Cruz Pedregon 767 3. Johnny Gray 711 4. Courtney Force 677 5. John Force 662
Top Fuel Championship point standings
1. Shawn Langdon 903 2. Tony Schumacher 860 3. Spencer Massey 833 4. Antron Brown 693 5. Doug Kalitta 644
The NHRA and Drag Race Central contributed to this report.