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Force, Torrence Take Wins At Arizona Nationals
Courtney Force
Courtney Force and her Advance Auto Parts/Chevrolet team got the event win in Funny Car this weekend, coming back strong after watching her father, John Force, endure a major crash. Photo By Mike Burghardt

Steve “Stevo” Torrence took home the event win in Top Fuel, as he marched from his number two qualifying position to defeat Scott Palmer in the final round of the 34th annual NHRA Arizona Nationals. Torrence’s Capco Construction dragster ran consistent 3.70 second elapse times, with a 3.69 at 331.36 mph winning effort in the second round of eliminations to take out the number seven qualifier, Blake Alexander. In the final, he took out Palmer’s Spot/Capco dragster with a strong 3.729 at 330.72 mph run. It was his 17th career event win.

Courtney Force had an emotional run to the final round. In the second round of elimination her father (16-time NHRA season Funny Car Champion, John Force) suffered a huge engine explosion as he crossed the center line ahead of Jonnie Lindberg. The explosion blew the body completely off his car and into pieces in a fiery explosion. With his car uncontrollable, it headed straight across the track and into the wall, where he was then hit by Lindberg’s race car. Both cars became tangled up in Lindberg’s parachutes, causing both cars to crash. Lindberg was able to exit his car under his own power. Force was cut out of his race car, placed on a back board and taken to the hospital to be checked out. The accident was reminiscent of the accident he suffered at the event in Dallas in 2007. He was conscious and talking to the NHRA Safety team. In typical John Force fashion, he was more concerned with his race car than himself. Before he was taken to the hospital, he told daughter Courtney to “kick their butts and win the event.” That gave Force and her Advance Auto Parts/Chevrolet team all the motivation they needed. She was scheduled to race her famous dad in the semi-final round, but he was obviously not able to make that run, so she singled into the final with a strong 3.938 at 317.90 mph. Her opponent was Tommy Johnson and the “Make-A-Wish” Dodge. Johnson, who came in with lane choice, shook the tires and lost traction as Force streaked away to a 3.834 at 337.16 mph win. And where was her dad? With her mom, at the hospital under observation, watching the entire final round on TV and cheering her on. He was kept overnight for observation and should be released in a day or so. The safety devices that have been designed into these race cars, as a result of Eric Medlen’s death in 2007, kept this incident from being much worse than it could have been.

In Pro Stock, Chris McGaha collected the event win by defeating Jason Line 6.529 at 211.59 mph to 6.538 at 210.14 mph. It was McGaha’s sixth career victory. Line was seeking his 50th career victory.

Local Oakdale Funny Car racer, Richard Townsend completed two team goals for his first season in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing season. He qualified for his first national event in the 14th position. He also collected his first elimination round win as he took out the 2012 Funny Car season champion, Fast Jack Beckman in the opening round of eliminations when Beckman’s engine exploded. Townsend and his “Nitroholic” team were taken out in the second round by eventual runner-up Tommy Johnson. It was a thrilling event weekend for the Oakdale team and their fans.

In another upset, Top Fuel newcomer, Greg Carrillo, defeating Tony Schumacher (eight-time Top Fuel Champion) and the US Army dragster in the opening round and then took out Antron Brown (three-time Top Fuel Champion) in the second round. His miraculous day was ended in the semi-finals by eventual runner-up, Scott Palmer.