POMONA, Calif, Feb. 12, 2012 -- John Force raced to his 134th career Funny Car victory Sunday at the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals presented by Super Start Batteries at historic Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.
Spencer Massey (Top Fuel) and Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) also were winners of the season-opening NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event.
|“It’s a great start,” Force said. “You really want to perform. I know all those other kids on our teams and others, like Cruz Pedregon, the Schumacher teams, [Tim] Wilkerson, and [Bob] Tasca [III], those guys are going to win races, and it was just nice to get a win under my belt. Those boys are bad out there. To make that top 10 is going to be tough. Somebody’s going to be left out, so I’m just going to keep fighting and keep my nose clean.”
Force, 62, used a holeshot start to claim his sixth win at this event and 15th at this track with a performance of 4.080 seconds at 315.64 mph in his Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang. Runner-up Mike Neff finished ran 4.036 at 316.82 in his Castrol GTX Mustang.
“Before the final, I said, ‘What are we going to do ‘Guido?’ [crew chief Dean Antonelli],” Force said. “He said, ‘We can’t race him the way we are, running .12 or .14. We’re going to have to go after it, and if it smokes the tires, we’ll go home.’ They were all over there, looking at the numbers, and it just went. It wasn’t quick enough to beat him. He was late, so I got the win. He told me something distracted him.”
In her much-publicized debut, Force’s 23-year-old daughter Courtney lost in the second round to Neff, while the elder Force defeated his daughter’s rookie rival, Alexis DeJoria, in a close first-round meeting. Force also beat Tim Wilkerson and Gary Densham to reach the final round.
Massey, who finished second in the points standings last year, opened the new season in first place by outrunning Antron Brown in the final round to take his seventh career Top Fuel victory and first at Pomona. Massey posted a 3.750 at 325.77 in his FRAM/Prestone dragster to hold off Brown’s charging Matco Tools dragster, which trailed with a 3.794 at 320.43.
“Coming up a little short and ending up in second place last year made us that much more hungry and motivated to win a championship, so we focused this winter and acted like there wasn’t an off-season,” said Massey, who beat Steve Faria, Clay Millican, and Tony Schumacher in early rounds.
“It shows that they know what it takes to get the car down the racetrack,” Massey continued. “After the second round, we didn’t have any computer data, and [crew chiefs] Phil [Shuler] and Todd [Okuhara] tuned that thing like it was a Top Fuel car from 1968. They looked at the plugs, looked at the bearings, and it went 3.74 at 328 mph. It’s awesome to start like this and have the No. 1 spot going into Phoenix. This is my life dream, and we’re living it.”
The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series continues next weekend (Feb. 17-19) at Firebird Int'l Raceway near Phoenix with the NHRA Arizona Nationals.
Lincoln Electric is a proud partner of Don Schumacher Racing and John Force Racing.