Sonoma, CA – NHRA Sonoma Nationals
DSR Sonoma Saturday Highlights:
Jack Beckman, Matt Hagan, and Tommy Johnson Jr. will start race day from the top half of the Funny Car field; Antron Brown qualified in the quick-half of the Top Fuel field
Leah Pritchett made two bonus point-worthy runs on Saturday, powering to the second-quickest pass of Q4 and third-quickest of Q3
Ron Capps picked up a bonus point after maneuvering his Funny Car to the third-quickest run of the third session and was one of only three cars to run in the three-second zone during Q3
With 499 Top Fuel round wins, Brown is on the verge of reaching No. 500 on Sunday and is set up to become the sixth Top Fuel pilot in NHRA history to reach that milestone
Driver of the Matco Tools Top Fuel Dragster
ADEL, GA – A second evening of heavy pop-up rain storms forced Professional Drag Racers Association (PDRA) officials to push Saturday eliminations for the PDRA Summer Nationals Ignited by Lithium Pros Batteries into Sunday. Racing will resume at 9 a.m. at South Georgia Motorsports Park to complete the all-eighth-mile series’ fourth of eight races.
“We were all worried about the heat when we came to South Georgia in June, but this time of year also comes with these pop-up showers and thunderstorms,” said Tyler Crossnoe, race director, PDRA. “We hate to push things to Sunday. We know it’s a long drive for a lot of people. But Sunday is our rain date at the PDRA and we’re going to have to utilize it. We explored other options, such as pushing it to the next race, but we feel this is the best decision for the series.”
The series was preparing to go into the first round of eliminations for its professional categories after starting racing in the sportsman classes. Efforts to dry the track were stopped twice, leading race officials to push racing into Sunday.
“We’ll start at 9 a.m. with Pro Boost and continue through the first round of the rest of the pro classes,” Crossnoe said. “We’ll run it as fast as we can and we’ll wrap up by early afternoon as long as everything runs smoothly. We want to get teams on the road as soon as possible.”
The professional class low qualifiers going into Sunday eliminations are Daniel Pharris in Moroso Pro Boost, Randy Weatherford in Switzer Dynamics Pro Nitrous, John Montecalvo in Liberty’s Gears Extreme Pro Stock, Walter Lanningan Jr. in Schwing America Pro Outlaw 632 presented by East Side Auto Transport, and Eric McKinney in Drag 965 Pro Nitrous Motorcycle.
Eliminations started in the PDRA’s sportsman classes: MagnaFuel Elite Top Sportsman, Top Sportsman 32, Lucas Oil Elite Top Dragster, Top Dragster 32, Coolshirt Pro Jr. Dragster presented by Knoxtown Products, Gilbert Motorsports Top Jr. Dragster and Edelbrock Bracket Bash.
Spectators who attended Saturday qualifying at the PDRA Summer Nationals can return for Sunday free of charge with a valid Saturday wristband. Otherwise, Sunday spectator passes will be available at the gate for $20.
NORWALK, OH – After two weeks off the tour Shane Tucker and the rest of his Pro Stock compatriots are ready to get back to racing action. This weekend Tucker will be wheeling his Auzmet/StructGlass Chevrolet Camaro onto the Summit Motorsports Park facility in search of his first win on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series tour. The young Australian has expanded his program and is competing on the full NHRA Pro Stock schedule for the first time in his career.
“I really wanted to commit to running for the NHRA Mello Yello championship this season,” said Tucker. “The only way to do that is to attend every race on the tour. We missed Phoenix due to an engine issue but we are set for the rest of the season and I think we are continuing to improve every race.”
So far this season since Tucker has gotten his motor program under control with the assistance of world champion motor supplier Nick Ferri, Tucker has qualified for the last four Pro Stock races. His run of qualifying success also includes a quarterfinal finish at the historic Gatornationals in March.
ENNIS, TX – Shane Conway is as anxious as any racer competing at this weekend’s 33rd annual AAA Texas NHRA Fall Nationals, especially since it’s been more than three months since he’s lined up against any national-level competition. That’ll change beginning this race as the son of NHRA stalwart Tom Conway plans to finish out the year by running Ennis, Las Vegas 2 and Pomona, Calif.
“Ever since Norwalk in mid-June, I’ve been working at my shop on another racecar so we haven’t had time to race,” Conway said. “But we got caught up with our work and since we’re from Spring (Texas, a suburb of Houston) this seemed like a great race to get back after it.
“We went to Tulsa Raceway Park up in Oklahoma last weekend with the A-Fuel dragster and did some testing. We are super happy with what we learned and hope it will continue running the way it was in testing this coming weekend in Ennis.”
SONOMA, CA — Courtney Force raced her Advance Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car to her 10th No. 1 qualifier of the season Saturday at the Toyota NHRA Sonoma Nationals at Sonoma Raceway. John Force will start from the No. 9 position with his PEAK Coolant and Motor Oil team and Robert Hight and the Auto Club of Southern California team will start from No. 11. In Top Fuel Britany Force and the PEAK Coolant and Motor Oil Monster Energy dragster will start from No. 5.
Courtney Force’s 10 No. 1 qualifiers ties the fourth most during one season in Funny Car history. It is also the most in the Funny Car category since 2000 when her dad, John Force, secured 11. Not to mention it is also the most No. 1 starts by a woman in any professional category.
“The credit is owed to my entire Advance Auto Parts team, every single crew guy who has been working on that race car doing such an incredible and consistent job on it, especially (co-crew chiefs) Brian Corradi and Dan Hood. It’s been a lot of fun for me to drive. They have that thing dialed in,” Force said.
Force secured the No. 1 spot off the efforts of her 3.910-second pass at 326.16 mph from Friday night’s session. Force has now tallied 27 No. 1 qualifiers in her career and two at Sonoma Raceway. She previously qualified in the top spot at the venue in 2014, doubling up with her sister Brittany Force who was No. 1 in Top Fuel, and went on to win the race.
BRISTOL, VA — After day one of qualifying at the Fitzgerald USA NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals, Courtney Force shows no signs of letting up on her domination of the Funny Car class. Force, along with her Advance Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car team, raced to the top of the field Friday night at Bristol Dragway. Robert Hight currently holds the No. 3 spot with John Force at No. 6. Brittany Force, in Top Fuel, ended the day No. 5.
Courtney Force has yet to qualify, even preliminarily, outside of the top four in 2018 and, at the 11th race of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing season, it doesn’t look like the Funny Car points leader has any intention of ending that streak. Force, who ran a 4.277-second pass during the first qualifying session, good enough for fourth, came out under the lights with a cool track and blasted to a 3.933-second pass at 325.92 mph to take over the top spot. It was the only Funny Car three-second pass of the day and earned her three bonus points.
“It was bumpy and we didn’t get down there like we wanted to in round one. We kind of looked at it to see what we could do to get it down there. That was Corradi and Hood getting their heads together and figuring it out. Really goes to show those guys are just doing a phenomenal job,” Force said. “It felt great to get the No. 1 spot and pick up some bonus points. Every point counts. It was a great run. It’s just a job well done by Brian Corradi and Dan Hood and every one of my Advance Auto Parts guys. It was hauling the mail down there. It was a little bumpy, so I had my hands full, and I think I want to go back and critique my run because I think I had it a little bit to the outside down there. But it stuck and that’s all that really matters. It’s a great start to the weekend. I’m lucky to be piloting this car for Corradi and Hood. I’m just trying not to screw up and just keep my focus and keep it straight down there.”
With the predicted weather for the weekend, Force knows the final qualifying sessions on Saturday will be critical for Sunday’s eliminations.
“Tomorrow is way more important than today because it’s going to be the same kind of conditions as Sunday,” explained Force. “We struggled in the heat today so we need to get it figured out tomorrow so we’re good going into race day. I think it’s a challenge for all of the drivers. You’ve got to keep that car as smooth as possible.”
After having to shut off early because of a dropped cylinder and crossing the line at only 4.340 seconds in the first qualifying session, reigning world champion Robert Hight went side-by-side with John Force and laid down a 4.077-second pass at 316.97 mph to land in the No. 3 spot.
“It was exactly what we needed to do. (Crew chief) Jimmy (Prock) said going up there we would try to run 4.05 or 4.07, which really isn’t our forte,” Hight explained. “We’d much rather be running better but this is one of those racetracks where lane choice is a big deal and if we didn’t hit it tonight and get it down the track, then we wouldn’t have lane choice. We ended up third. Tomorrow it’s going to be hotter so if we try to make two runs around 4.10, or somewhere in that range, and I think we’d be in a good position for race day.”
Coming off a runner-up finish in Richmond, Va., where he qualified seventh, John Force is currently sixth in the Funny Car lineup. Off the trailer Force shut off early to run 4.340 seconds. With header flames lit under the lights and lined-up side-by-side with Robert Hight, Force improved to a 4.115-second run at 313.51 mph.
“I thought we’d run a little bit better. I thought this PEAK Coolant and Motor Oil hot rod might run an .07 or .08 but it didn’t leave. We got some new clutch discs and we’ve been playing for consistency,” Force said. “Tomorrow’s going to be hotter but I think we can step up a little. Didn’t run what we wanted because it’s been slow early, but it got over the hump that’s down track and that’s the biggest factor here. With the track prep, if you get airborne on the hump, then it won’t hook up. That’s what everyone’s going through, spinning the tires. Courtney, like I had for years, they have magic, her and that Advance Auto Parts team with (Dan) Hood and (Brian) Corradi.”
In the first session, Brittany Force, like many of the other Top Fuel pilots, hazed the tires half track to run a 4.561 that put her in sixth. Force currently holds the No. 5 position with a 3.875-second pass at 320.20 mph after the Friday night session.
“It was a good run. It might have spun the tires a little bit down track because it moved toward the center line, but it was still a solid run. We’re fifth and that’s a good start.,” Force said. “Tomorrow is going to be a little hotter and we’ll just work on getting our Advance Auto Parts Monster Energy dragster down a hot track so that we’re ready for first round on Sunday.”
The third and fourth qualifying sessions at the Fitzgerald USA NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals will take place Saturday at 1:30 and 4 p.m. and eliminations will begin Sunday at noon at Bristol Dragway.
COURTNEY FORCE, 29, Advance Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro SS
Qualifying: 1st; 3.993-seconds; 325.92 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: +3 (quickest Q2)
BRITTANY FORCE, 31, Monster Energy Top Fuel Dragster
Qualifying: 5th; 3.875-seconds; 320.20 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: 0
ROBERT HIGHT, 48, Auto Club of Southern California Chevy Camaro SS
Qualifying: 3rd, 4.077-seconds; 316.97 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: +1 (3rd quickest Q2)
JOHN FORCE, 69, PEAK Coolant and Motor Oil Chevrolet Camaro SS
Qualifying: 6th; 4.115-seconds; 313.51 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: 0
Photo Credit: Gary Nastase, Auto Imagery
GALAX, VA – When two people pledge their love and agree to spend a life together, they never quite know what the road ahead holds, especially for couples in which drag racing is involved. The journey for Ricky and Michelle Furr has been full of life’s typical – and not so typical – ups and downs. With Michelle in the driver’s seat of various hot rods and Ricky crewing her to a respectable amount of NHRA, IHRA and other event wins, they’ve seen a fair amount of “for better” in their marriage.
Last year, however, there was quite a bit of “for worse”. After partnering with Marvin Benoit and Papa Motorsports and debuting the first C7 Corvette Roadster at the tail end of the 2016 season, 2017 followed with one bad break after another. New car blues hit, and, even when those weren’t plaguing the Furrs, they were often headed home early.
“New car blues hit us, silly little things,” Michelle explained. “When it wasn’t anything with the car, it was one of those years where if I had a .001 package, the guy in the other lane had a .000 package. If I had a .010 package, they had a .009 package. It was like that in Super Gas and in the dragster. I really began to doubt myself. Maybe I’d lost it. Maybe it’s just not meant to be.”