John Force added to his record NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series career Sunday, as he raced to the Funny Car victory at the 48th annual NHRA Gatornationals at Florida’s Gainesville Raceway.
Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel), Shane Gray (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were also winners in their respective categories.
Force, a sixteen-time world champion and the winningest driver in NHRA history, ran a 3.928 at 328.14 for the 148th victory of his career, eighth at Gainesville and first of the season. He defeated rookie Jonnie Lindberg’s 3.971 at 314.83 in his Head Racing Toyota Camry.
“I made a lot of changes coming here,” Force said. “Don’t know if I’m smart or just lucky. I surround myself with great people. They’re the ones who make it happen, then the sponsors and then the cheer of the crowd. They made one mistake out here. They let me find the music. I found myself. A lot of things area about heart, and about luck. You always feel somebody up there likes ya. I believe hard work, dedication and what we went though, it’s been a draining day. I’m not accepting that I’m done. I’ve been real lucky.”
The victory marks the 2,500 Funny Car round-win for John Force Racing. Force raced past Del Worsham, Jack Beckman and Tommy Johnson Jr. on his way to the finals. Lindberg defeated Dave Richards in the first round and upset Robert Hight and Matt Hagan to get to the final.
Schumacher piloted his dragster to a 3.703-second pass at 329.26 mph for the 83rd victory of his career and first of the season. He defeated Antron Brown who ran a 3.764 at 322.65. With the win, Schumacher becomes the winningest Top Fuel driver at the facility with five after previously being in a four-way tie.
“We have great, great people working together. I’m loving driving the car,” Schumacher said. “We’re in the fight every day, every race. It’s going to be a fun year, man. I’m comfortable driving the car. It’s running right down the middle. It’s running extremely fast. It doesn’t have any part on the race track where I feel that I’m in danger. Its doing everything that a driver dreams about sitting in a Top Fuel car.”
Schumacher defeated Smax Smith, Clay Millican and Steve Torrence en route to the victory. Brown was able to get past Chris Karamasines, rookie Troy Coughlin, Jr. and Doug Kalitta before falling to Schumacher in the finals.
In Pro Stock, Gray picked up the sixth victory of his career and first at Gainesville Raceway when he ran a 6.535 at 212.96 to defeat Greg Anderson’s 6.560 at 213.43 in the final.
“I wasn’t supposed to win,” Gray said. “When you’re testing parts you’re just not supposed to win which is basically what we’re doing with my car. We had a lucky day today. There were some round wins when the car pulled me out of the whole and there were a couple rounds where I pulled the car out of the whole. It was a complete team effort today.”
Gray turned on win lights against Allen Johnson, Erica Enders and Chris McGaha while Anderson won against Matt Hartford, Jeg Coughlin, Jr., and Jason Line before reaching the finals.
Eddie Krawiec defeated teammate Andrew Hines for his 37th career Pro Stock Motorcycle victory, second consecutive and fifth total at Gainesville Raceway. Krawiec rode to a 6.763 pass at 199.76 bettering Hines’ 6.802 at 197.10.
“This helps set the pace for the year,” Krawiec said. “Get that first win off your back, keep that momentum rolling, get the points. You know once you win one or two races you kind of solidify your spot. With the extra competitive class we have this year it definitely helps. There’s a lot of great motorcycles. My Harley-Davidson this weekend really has been really fast, we just haven’t been able to harness that power and get it sorted out. I think as the year goes on we’re going to get better.”
Krawiec rode past Mike Berry, Matt Smith and Joey Gladstone before racing Hines in the finals. Hines defeated Angelle Sampey, Scotty Pollacheck and Steve Johnson before being defeated himself.
The 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season continues at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway March 31-April 2.
NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series
Gainesville Raceway – Gainesville, FL
NHRA Gatornationals – March 19, 2017
Sunday’s Final Results
Top Fuel — Tony Schumacher, 3.703 seconds, 329.26 mph def. Antron Brown, 3.764 seconds, 322.65 mph.
Funny Car — John Force, Chevy Camaro, 3.928, 328.14 def. Jonnie Lindberg, Toyota Camry, 3.971, 314.83.
Pro Stock — Shane Gray, Chevy Camaro, 6.535, 212.96 def. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.560, 213.43.
Pro Stock Motorcycle — Eddie Krawiec, Harley-Davidson, 6.763, 199.76 def. Andrew Hines, Harley-Davidson, 6.802, 197.10.
Point standings (Top 10)
1. Leah Pritchett, 300; 2. Tony Schumacher, 279; 3. Antron Brown, 243; 4. Doug Kalitta, 220; 5. Brittany Force, 202; 6. Steve Torrence, 185; 7. Troy Coughlin Jr., 143; 8. Shawn Reed, 136; 9. Clay Millican, 133; 10. Scott Palmer, 116.
1. Matt Hagan, 308; 2. John Force, 238; 3. Ron Capps, 235; 4. Tommy Johnson Jr., 209; 5. Courtney Force, 177; 6. Robert Hight, 150; 7. Jim Campbell, 148; 8. Jack Beckman, 144; 9. J.R. Todd, 138; 10. Tim Wilkerson, 117.
1. Greg Anderson, 319; 2. Jason Line, 281; 3. Shane Gray, 226; 4. Bo Butner, 198; 5. Jeg Coughlin, 187; 6. Tanner Gray, 181; 7. Erica Enders, 167; 8. Drew Skillman, 157; 9. Vincent Nobile, 149; 10. Chris McGaha, 139.
Pro Stock Motorcycle
1. Eddie Krawiec, 120; 2. Andrew Hines, 97; 3. Joey Gladstone, 81; 4. Steve Johnson, 74; 5. Jerry Savoie, 63; 6. LE Tonglet, 58; 7. (tie) Scotty Pollacheck, 52; Matt Smith, 52; 9. Hector Arana, 36; 10. Hector Arana Jr, 35.