Pro Stock driver Matt Hartford earned his first-career Wally in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series after beating Erica Enders in the final round of the NHRA SpringNationals Sunday at Royal Purple Raceway in Baytown, TX.
Brittany Force won Top Fuel, and J.R. Todd won Funny Car for the second consecutive event.
Hartford clocked 5.552 seconds at 211.36 miles per hour in his Chevrolet Camaro to beat Enders in the finals.
“We started in the back half of the field today and had to work our way through,” Hartford said. “We earned this. We did a better job with our car today than the other teams. My driving is not why we won today and that is a fact. My crew tuned the car enough for us to be able to drive around [Enders] at the end.”
Hartford faced Chris McGaha, Tanner Gray, and Jeg Coughlin Jr. to enter the first final round of his career. Enders took down Vincent Nobile, Rodger Brogdon and #1 qualifier Greg Anderson.
Todd Goes Back-to-Back in Funny Car
Todd powered his Toyota Camry to a pass of 3.955 at 313.29 mph to defeat defending world champion Robert Hight in the final round. Todd is the third driver in Royal Purple Raceway history to have won in both Top Fuel and Funny Car.
This is his second win of the season and 13th of his career.
“It’s nice to have this much momentum early in the season,” Todd said. “We struggled really bad last season and didn’t really turn around till probably the Western Swing. It’s nice, as Kalitta Motorsports, to come out swinging at these races this year.”
Todd defeated Tommy Johnson Jr., Jeff Diehl, and Tim Wilkerson before entering the final round. Hight drove past Todd Simpson, Jonnie Lindberg, and Jack Beckman before entering his second final round of the season and 66th career final round.
Force Makes it a Family Affair with Baytown Win
Force, the defending Top Fuel world champion, piloted her dragster to a pass of 3.762 at 299.46 to defeat Terry McMillen in the final round for her first win of the season and eighth of her career.
She is the seventh different John Force Racing driver to win at Royal Purple Raceway and she completes the cycle of all Force family members have one at the facility.
“We kind of struggled a little bit today,” Force said. “The tires were spinning and I’m trying to drive the thing down there and try to get it to the finish line. I didn’t know where the guy was next to me, but it was just about getting down there first. Saw our win lights come on in the final round and that was the most important one.”
Force drove past Terry Haddock, Doug Kalitta, and Tony Schumacher to reach her first final round of the season, and the 18th of her career. McMillen defeated Antron Brown, Billy Torrence and top-qualifier Leah Pritchett before entering his fourth career final round.
The Mello Yello Drag Racing Series continues April 27-29 at the NGK Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway in Charlotte, NC.
NHRA Pro Stock Point Standings
1. Bo Butner 374 2. Greg Anderson 337 3. Chris McGaha 330 4. Deric Kramer 322 5. Vincent Nobile 319
NHRA Funny Car Point Standings
1. Jack Beckman 415 2. Matt Hagan 363 3. J.R. Todd 347 4. Courtney Force 342 5. Robert Hight 326
NHRA Top Fuel Point Standings
1. Steve Torrence 385 1. Tony Schumacher 385 3. Antron Brown 324 4. Clay Millican 309 5. Doug Kalitta 304
NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle Point Standings
1. Eddie Krawiec 123 2. Andrew Hines 107 3. Scotty Pollacheck 76 4. Hector Arana 71 5. Steve Johnson 53 5. Angelle Sampey 53
Drag Race Central and NHRA contributed to this report.