Force Smokes Nitro Shootout Competition

John Force pocketed $100,000 for winning the NHRA Funny Car Traxxas Nitro Shootout at Lucas Oil Raceway Sunday. (Kent Steele Photo)
John Force pocketed $100,000 for winning the NHRA Funny Car Traxxas Nitro Shootout at Lucas Oil Raceway Sunday. (Kent Steele Photo)
John Force pocketed $100,000 for winning the NHRA Funny Car Traxxas Nitro Shootout at Lucas Oil Raceway Sunday. (Kent Steele Photo)

CLERMONT, Ind. – John Force took home the Traxxas Nitro Shootout victory Sunday, concluding an action packed day of racing at the 60th annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, the world’s most prestigious drag race.

Force, a 16-time Funny Car world champ, pocketed $100,000 and bragging rights when he beat teammate Robert Hight with a 4.061-second run at 317.19 mph in the Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang. He defeated fan vote/lottery winner Tim Wilkerson and two-time season winner Alexis DeJoria to reach the final. It was Force’s second Traxxas Shootout win and seventh career victory in an NHRA all-star race. Force will look to conclude the weekend tomorrow with his fifth Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals victory.

“It was a win-win situation,” Force said of running against his teammate in the final. “We couldn’t lose. All of the sponsors were on all of the cars. We just couldn’t lose it.”

Hight, driver of the Auto Club Ford Mustang, was appearing in his first Traxxas Shootout final round. He is a three-time and defending Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals winner and will be going for a fourth tomorrow.

In other racing on Sunday, Jason Line claimed the rain-delayed Brainerd victory and the No. 1 qualifying position in Pro Stock. Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel), Matt Hagan (Funny Car) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) joined Line as No. 1 qualifiers and will lead their categories into Monday’s 11 a.m. eliminations at the final NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event of the regular season. Following this event the top 10 fields in each class will be set for the six-race Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship playoffs, which starts Sept. 12-14 at zMAX Dragway in Concord, N.C.

In the Brainerd final, Line raced to a 6.596 at 207.40 in the Summit Racing Chevy Camaro to defeat reigning world champ Jeg Coughlin in the Dodge Dart. It was Line’s third win in a row and the first time he has achieved that feat. It was Line’s 35th career victory and the win propelled him into the top spot in Pro Stock points. Line’s 6.589 at 210.01 from Saturday qualifying was good enough to also secure the No. 1 starting position. He will face Rodger Brogdon in the opener as he goes for his first U.S. Nationals victory.

“It was very Brainerd-ish,” Line said of the cloudy and rainy weather conditions that delayed racing for a bit on Sunday morning at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis. “Our car ran very good. Our Camaro was very fast this weekend. It was a little bit weird to win Brainerd at Indy. But it’s the first thing I’ve ever done well at in Indy.”

In Pro Stock qualifying, Vincent Nobile was second with a 6.601 at 208.49 in the Mountain View Tire Camaro. He will race Matt Hartford in the first round. Shane Gray’s Gray Manufacturing Camaro qualified third with a 6.603 at 209.17 and will face Aussie rookie driver Shane Tucker.

With their results in qualifying, V Gaines and Chris McGaha clinched their spots in the Countdown to the Championship. Greg Anderson and Jonathan Gray will face off tomorrow in the first round, a matchup that will be critical in deciding the final transfer spot for the Pro Stock top 10.

In Top Fuel, Schumacher ran a 3.748 at a track record speed of 328.54 in his U.S. Army dragster during the Traxxas Nitro Shootout final, which was quick enough to earn the No. 1 qualifying position. It was the third top starting spot of the season for Schumacher and 75th of his career. He will go for a record-breaking 10th Indianapolis victory when he meets 2012 world champ and 2011 event winner Antron Brown in the first round.

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