John Force continued his comeback run by racing to the Funny Car victory Sunday at the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Larry Dixon and Mike Edwards also were winners in their respective categories at the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series event.
The 60-year-old Force, the 14-time NHRA world champ who struggled on the track during the last three seasons, extended his Full Throttle Series lead with his third win of the season and 129th of his career. It is his second victory at this track.
Force defeated rival and former teammate Tony Pedregon in the final round. Force drove his Castrol GTX High-Mileage Ford Mustang to a winning performance of 4.334sec at 284.93mph, while Pedregon's Herzog/NitroFish Chevy Impala lost traction and trailed with a 5.630 at 138.34.
“The hardest thing I work for is to be able to compete and show my kids that I can still do it,” said an emotional Force, who defeated Robert Hight, Matt Hagan and Ashley Force Hood to advance to the final. “I want to show them how much I still love it. This is a great win here in front of a lot of family and friends. Now I'm back in the game, and it feels good.”
In Top Fuel, Dixon claimed his third win of the season and 51st of his career and, in the process, took over the series points lead by outrunning Cory McClenathan in the final round. Dixon powered his Al-Anabi Racing dragster to a 4.016 at 313.37 to hold off McClenathan's FRAM dragster, which lost traction near mid-track and finished in 5.113 at 158.41.
“We had a great car all weekend,” said Dixon, who beat Steve Faria, Shawn Langdon and Doug Kalitta in earlier rounds. “The car was unbelievable all through qualifying, just very strong. We qualified second and made up a bunch of points on Cory in qualifying. Then, we knew that if we could make it to the final round, if we beat him we'd get the points lead, and we got both. It's just a great, great weekend all around for everyone on the Al-Anabi team.”
Edwards continued his dominance in Pro Stock by racing to his fourth victory of the season and 24th of his career. The defending series champ posted a 6.751 at 205.51 in his Penhall/Interstate Batteries Pontiac GXP to defeat Greg Stanfield, who trailed with a 6.813 at 203.12 in his NitroFish GXP.
To reach his first career final at The Strip at Las Vegas, Edwards outran Rickie Jones, Warren Johnson and Greg Anderson.
“It feels good to come out here and win at Vegas,” Edwards said. “I've been coming here a long time and ran really, really well but just could never close the deal. It feels good.”
The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series continues April 30-May 2 with the AAA NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway International Raceway near St. Louis.