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Defending Funny Car champion Del Worsham and Pro Stock driver Drew Skillman got their first wins of the 2016 season at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway on Aug. 21.
Brittany Force (Top Fuel) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also got wins in the penultimate event of the regular season. Racers will have one more opportunity at the U.S. Nationals Aug. 31-Sept. 5 at Indianapolis to make the final 10 spots in the Countdown to the Championship.
Brittany Force made the most of her return to the final round as against two-time world champion Antron Brown Force took the win in a wild, fireball spewing final run. Force and her Monster Energy Top Fuel dragster had just enough power to outrun a tire-smoking Brown, who she beat last year in Brainerd in the semifinals. Force finished the run in 4.169 seconds at 180.21 mph while Brown could only manage 6.566 at 103.47.
“It’s just awesome to be able to win here. I felt good coming in here this weekend just because we had some success (runner-up finish) last year. We had been struggling a little bit and to come out here and get the win is exactly where we want to be going to the Countdown and the biggest race of our season in Indy, so we’re exactly where we want to be,” said Force. “I have to say thank you to my entire Monster Energy team for all their hard work, and it feels so good to bring home another win.”
On the last run of the day the motor on her Monster Energy Top Fuel dragster exploded just before the finish line. When Force, now a three-time winner in 2016, stopped her dragster it was still on fire but that did not dampen the enthusiasm for getting another win.
“It was definitely a crazy one. If we’re going to blow everything up, at least turn on a win light and we did that. I didn’t see Antron (Brown) next to me. I had no clue where he was, what he was doing. But I just had to keep my foot into it and I just felt it blow up and felt the tug and as long as I could hang on until I got to that 1,000-foot stripe and get the win light, and it did. I jumped out of the car and saw that it was on fire, but we’re in the winner’s circle,” added Force.
She got past Terry Haddock (3.725/324.765 to 4.242/212.66), Dough Kalitta (3.711/325.53 to 3.939/265.01), and Shawn Langdon (3.717/324.36 to 3.736/328.86) to get to the final round.