Feb 7, 2014; Pomona, CA, USA; NHRA Funny Car driver John Force sets a new national record during qualifying for the Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Racing Season Starts With Force

The start of the motorsports season received a blastoff from the NHRA this past weekend when 16-time champion John Force led the way, winning the Funny Car class at historic Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, California.  Khalid alBalooshi won Top Fuel and Jason Line grabbed the victory in Pro Stock at the famed Winternationals on Sunday afternoon.

Force to be reckoned with

Feb 9, 2014; Pomona, CA, USA; NHRA Funny Car driver John Force celebrates after winning the Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.
Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off a 2013 season that saw Force win an incomprehensible 16th world championship, the iconic 64 year old Californian was a force all weekend, qualifying number one in Funny Car while breaking records along the way.  He defeated last year’s runner-up to the Funny Car title, Matt Hagan from Virginia, who looked strong all day until he ran into the record-setting final by Force.  As the John Force Racing family and entourage looked on, John went a blazing 3.965 elapsed time (E.T.) to thump Hagan who broke the tires loose.  By the way, if you thought you saw IndyCar driver Graham Rahal standing with the Force family near the starting line, you were right as he and Courtney Force have been a couple for a few months now.

In any case, with relatively cool conditions of Southern California, Force had the field covered and made a statement with his dominating performance.  Age doesn’t appear to be affecting the grizzled veteran.  Also in Funny Car, it should be noted that Alexis DeJoria is now the fastest woman ever at a 1,000 feet when she cracked off a 3.99 E.T. during qualifying.

Top Fuel and Pro Stock

In Top Fuel, Doug Kalitta of Michigan seemed to be the favorite during the weekend with the number one spot in qualifying plus he ended up with low E.T., top speed and quickest reaction time.  However, when it mattered in the finals, alBalooshi and his Al Anabi prepared digger was able to go from point A to point B faster.  Khalid, from the United Arab Emirates, earned the third victory of his career.

In highly competitive Pro Stock, Minnesotan Jason Line and his KB Racing Chevrolet held off the strong Mopar of V. Gaines to win the third Winternationals of his career.  Line offered to give his Wally to his teammate Greg Anderson who isn’t with the team right now as he recovers from recent heart surgery.  Said Line of Anderson:

“I’m forever indebted to him.  He gave me an opportunity that nobody else would.”

With the season-opener in the books, the teams will get a week off before traveling to Chandler, Arizona, for the second of 24 stops on the 2014 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.

Nothing like the force of nitro-powered, ground-pounding controlled bombs producing records to get the racing season started.

Source: ESPN

Tags: Auto Club Raceway Jason Line John Force Khalid AlBalooshi Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Pomona Raceway Winternationals

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