NHRA Notebook: Courtney Force gets even with her father
By Tony Baranek firstname.lastname@example.org June 29, 2014 9:24PM
Courtney Force and her father, 16-time NHRA Funny Car champion John Force, met in the second round Sunday at the Route 66 Nationals. Courtney prevailed to even their series at 5-5. | Ron Lewis Photography for Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 1, 2014 6:17AM
The daddy-daughter score is even.
Courtney Force landed a knockout of her 16-time champion father John Force in Sunday’s second round of the Funny Car competition at the Route 66 Nationals.
John Force got the advantage off the line and led at the 60-foot mark. He bobbled shortly after, however, and was left behind.
Courtney Force’s time of 4.151 seconds (307.30) landed her in the semifinals and marked the fifth time she had bested her dad in 10 tries.
It also ended a three-race losing streak, which included their last two meetings in 2013 and their semifinal showdown in March at the Amalie Motor Oil Gatornationals in Gainsville, Florida.
“I think it is easier to think of him as my dada when we pull up next to him,” she said. “I don’t look at him as the 16-time champion, but it definitely makes me feel good when I can take him out. That means our team is doing something right.”
No Schu-in this time
The biggest first-round upset occurred in the Top Fuel division when No. 15 Clay Millican defeated defending event champion and Chicago native Tony Schumacher.
Schumacher had been on a roll, having won the title the previous week at the New England Nationals and putting up a 3.775-second run (325.61) Saturday night that was second only to Doug Kalitta.
Schumacher’s 3.868 on Sunday came up just short as Millican recorded a personal weekend-best 3.842.
“It’s disappointing because we were really looking forward to the opportunity we had today,” said Schumacher, a four-time winner at Route 66. “The reality is this class is so tough from top to bottom that every round is a huge challenge. Looking at the data, it wore a ton of clutch so I’m not sure exactly what happened. Seeing some of the other cars smoking tires and not getting down the track proves that our run was one that would have gotten us to the second round in a lot of other scenarios but today it didn’t.”
DeJoria’s weekend tough
First it was food poisoning that put her on the shelf for the first night of qualifying.
Funny Car division championship contender Alexis DeJoria then saw her Sunday end early via a first-round loss to John Force.
It was a battle to the wire, but her 4.089-second (308.71) fell just short to Force’s 4.089.
The fourth-quickest run of the session wasn’t enough, but it did please DeJoria from one aspect.
“This weekend was a perfect example of how tough our team is and how strong of a car we have,“ DeJoria said. “Going into race day, we’d only had one full pass down the race track. The first two qualifying sessions we missed, but it didn’t matter because we went strong on the second day and made it in.
“I expected no less from my team because they always give me the very best car when I go down that race track. (Sunday) was no different. We made an excellent run — it was one of the best runs of the round actually — but unfortunately we lost to Force by just a little bit.”
Super Comp competitor Greg Kamplain went for a wild ride in his 2005 Spitzer when it veered to the right, flipped over and slid on its side toward the left-side wall. Bouncing off the wall, it careened back to the right and came to a halt on the other side of the track.
Kamplain was uninjured.