Words by Jeff Burk - Photos by Mark Rebilas

fter six days of dealing with every imaginable problem that a drag race could suffer through, the NHRA was able to at least finish up the eliminations in their Top Fuel and Funny Car class at Firebird International Raceway at Chandler, Ariz., on an unseasonably cold but dry Monday after the scheduled Sunday finals were “weathered out”.

Cory McClenathan in Top Fuel and Jack Beckman in Funny Car delivered a double win for mega-team owner Don Schumacher. The Schumacher organization showed tenacity as they soldiered on despite one of their own, Antron Brown, having a bad crash and the death of a spectator on Sunday that put a dark pall over the entire proceedings.

In fuel coupe eliminations the three-car team belonging to John Force appeared to have solved the issue of the tricky track surface of Firebird Raceway. Force, who was fresh off his first win in two years at the 50th annual Winternationals, was the favorite going into the final round against DSR driver Jack Beckman and his brand new crew (including leader Rahn Tobler) on the strength of his 4.08 spanking of teammate Robert Hight on Sunday night.

When asked if he was glad the NHRA kept the race in the Phoenix area for its conclusion Force gave an immediate response. “Without a doubt, I wish we could have finished it last night,” he said on Monday. “They had to make the call for the conditions on the track. We just didn’t get it. Let’s get over it and move onto Gainesville.”