Tampa Bay Sports Day

NHRA: Historic Show of Force as Second Woman Claims Title

Brittany Force became the second woman in drag racing history to win an NHRA Top Fuel championship, capping the season by also winning Sunday’s Auto Club Finals in Ponoma, Calif.

The other woman to win a Top Fuel title was Shirley Muldowney, who won the last of her three in 1982.

Force earned her first championship with a second-round victory after her closest competitor, Steve Torrence, lost in the same round. The season title was the first in Top Fuel for John Force Racing, which won its 18th Funny Car title in this event with Robert Hight driving.

Hight is married to another of John Force’s daughters, making him a brother-in-law to the new Top Fuel champion.
Brittany Force entered NHRA’s six-race playoffs in sixth position but quickly emerged as the title favorite by winning the first two rounds and three of the first four. She was the No. 1 qualifier in this race en route to winning her fourth event of the season.

Hight won his second career season championship, the other coming in 2009. Hight clinched this title with a first-round win over Tim Wilkerson coupled with Ron Capps’ loss to Del Worsham. But Hight, who qualified 15th, didn’t have a perfect day.

In the semifinals against another sister-in-law, Courtney Force, something in Hight’s car exploded as it crossed the finish line. The car veered across the track and hit the left-side wall.

Fortunately, Courtney Force had aborted her run just beyond the starting line. From there it was a matter of Hight hanging on, and for the first time in his career he ended up in the sand pit and catch fence serving as the final way to halt the car.

Hight was not injured and raced a backup car in the finals. However, he lost that round to Tommy Johnson Jr. Johnson won this final event last year, too. 

The Pro Stock championship went down to the final round after Bo Butner beat KB Racing teammate Greg Anderson in these semifinals. Butner then beat Tanner Gray in the finals to score his fifth event of the season, which gave him his first season championship. Anderson lost a chance for a fifth series title.

The championship was the second in succession for the team. Jason Line won last year’s title.

Gray, a rookie, won five races this season. He might have won a sixth had the right front tire not gone flat.

Eddie Krawiec clinched his fourth Pro Stock Motorcycle title simply by earning a spot in Sunday’s elimination round. He entered this event with a 150-point lead over former series champion LE Tonglet. Krawiec previously won titles in 2008, 2011 and 2012.

Krawiec started his championship drive by winning the U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis. He then won the first two events of the Countdown to cement his status as the top contender.

Krawiec had a chance to end the year with an event win, too, but he lost in the finals to Andrew Hines.