Putting the disappointment of only one victory in 2011 behind him, fifteen-time champion John Force notched up his 134th Funny Car victory in the O’Reilly Auto Parts Winternational held at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona. Quoted as saying that it was good to get a win under his belt, Force noted that he anticipates that it will be tough to make the top ten this year. Despite clocking up a slower time, Force outgunned Mike Neff in the final round due to his quick reaction time, thereby taking his Ford Mustang to victory on a hole-shot 4.080-second run at 315.64 mph. Neff clocked 4.036, but lost ground being slow at the start.
Other highlights of the Winternational were Spencer Massy’s Top Fuel victory over Antron Brown in the final round with a run of 3.750 seconds at a speed of 325.77 mph, while Jeg Coughlin Jr’s return to the Pro Stock saw the four-time champion reach the final round, only to lost to Greg Anderson’s 6.549 seconds at 210.87 mph. This was the 71st career victory for Anderson, as well as being his fifth at the Winternational.
Two female rookies – Courtney Force and Alexis DeJoria – had the opportunity to test their mettle in Funny Car at the Winternational. The 23-year old daughter of John Force, Courtney Force, qualified 12th and made it through to the second round of eliminations before losing to Neff. Nevertheless, her run of 4.143 seconds at 313.88 mph against Neff was her best of the Winternationals weekend. Alexis DeJoria was out in the first round of eliminations as she lost to John Force.
Current top five point standings in Top Fuel are Spencer Massey (119); Antron Brown (95); Morgan Lucas (87); Tony Schumacher (78); and Bob Vandergriff (57). Funny Car top five points are John Force (114); Mike Neff (95); Ron Capps and Gary Densham (73 tie); and Courtney Force. Pro Stock top five are Greg Anderson (114); Jeg Coughlin (91); Jason Line (82); Mike Edwards (81); and Allen Johnson (59).
The next event in the series will take place next weekend at Firebird International Raceway, located near Phoenix, for the NHRA Arizona Nationals.
Ron Capps and Antron Brown seem to be streaks ahead of the pack at this relatively early stage in the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle Racing Series. Both drivers have dominated their respective fields during the first two events of the season and have also started to build a rather impressive points lead in the Full Throttle standings.
Ron Capps may have endured a rather dismal 2008 season, but he managed to catch up somewhat at the end. This year he seems to have picked up where he left off. His explosion into the limelight this year started when he won the Funny Car season opener at Pomona in California. His most recent victory took place at the Firebird International Raceway on Sunday when he captured his second straight Funny Car title in the young campaign by beating Robert Hight and Del Worsham in the Lucas Oil Slick Mist Nationals. Not only did he win, but he managed to gain an impressive 97 point lead over fellow competitors. Commenting on his most recent victories, Capps told reporters: “I’m living a dream right now.” He also commented on his recent experiences behind the wheel, saying: “It’s like a really good cook learning how to cook again completely differently. The car is just so different to run, to feel, and it puts me in the trunk at half track. It’s so much fun to drive and when the win light comes on, it’s even better.” No doubt fans can expect to see more from Capps in upcoming races.
Brown began his 2009 Top Fuel season with a No.1 qualifier and a runner-up finish during the Kragen O’Reilly NHRA Winternationals held at the Auto Club Raceway in Pomona. He followed it up with his most recent performance in Phoenix which saw him take the lead over two-time event winner Brandon Bernstein to take the checkered flag. The win also boosted him to the lead in the Top Fuel standings. Speaking about his victory, Brown said: “This just shows how strong our team really is here at Mike Ashley Racing. With all the adversity we dealt with this off season, this is just an awesome feeling.” Brown and Capps were joined by Jeg Coughlin who won in Pro Stock at the recent 2009 NHRA Full Throttle Racing Series event.