In a momentous day for women in motorsport, Courtney Force has started the 2013 Mello Yello NHRA Drag Racing Series in best possible fashion, defeating Ron Capps in the Funny Car Final of the Winternationals at Pomona, being joined in victory lane by Shawn Langdon (Top Fuel) and Vincent Nobile (Pro Stock Car).
On a day where the NASCAR world was celebrating Danica Patrick’s historic pole position for the Daytona 500, top qualifier Force carved her way through to the final by eliminating Phil Burkhart and Matt Hagan. She got to the final when Bob Tasca III broke out too quickly and was red-lighted.
Capps – the form man at the back end of 2012 – forced Courtney’s dad, John out of proceedings before taking out Garry Densham and Johnny Gray.
Defending Champion, Jack Beckman was eliminated in the first round by Todd Lesenko.
The big talk of the Top Fuel race was the qualifying crash by Tony Schumacher – when his parachute failed, sending him into the sandtrap at the end of the track and the huge explosion that put Antron Brown out of proceedings in the second round.
CLICK HERE for more on the Brown crash, including video.
The Sarge was able to strike back in the US Army machine, getting through to the final, however he would have to play second fiddle to Shawn Langdon who tore down the strip in 3.721 seconds at 521.61kph (324.11mph) over Schumacher’s 3.747 at 518.64 kph (322.27mph).
Langdon eliminated Clay Millican, Brandon Bernstein and Khalid AlBalooshi on his way to the finale, whilst top qualifier Schumacher overcame Sidnei Frigo and Steve Torrence. He had a free run in the semi-final as Brown was unable to make the final due to his round two crash after defeating Australian, Dave Grubnic.
Brown escaped the spectacular incident with nothing more than a few minor burns.
Australian team, Rapisarda Autosport International with former Champion Larry Dixon behind the wheel qualified 13th fastest for the first event of the season. They could not advance from round one, being taken out by Brown.
PRO STOCK CAR
Youngster, Vincent Nobile won the Pro Stock division at Pomona having come up against Jeg Coughlin in the final. Coughlin red-lighted off the startline, but it wouldn’t have mattered as Nobile’s 6.584 second run was well in advance of his more experienced counterpart.
Nobile arrived at the final having qualified fifth and eliminating Matt Hartford, Shane Gray and Greg Stanfield. Whilst Coughlin faced off for the first Wally trophy of 2013 by taking out Steve Kent, Kurt Johnson and V. Gaines.
A notable early round casualty was Erica Enders-Stevens, taken out in round one by Kurt Johnson after she was the third quickest runner in qualifying.
The second round of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series is next weekend in Phoenix, Arizona.