Joliet: Sunday eliminations report

FORCE EARNS 120TH CAREER WIN; KALITTA CONTINUES HOT STREAK JOLIET, Ill. - Drag racing legend John Force won his record 120th Funny Car race Sunday at Route 66 Raceway to close to within 48 points of the championship lead. Doug Kalitta, Kurt ...

FORCE EARNS 120TH CAREER WIN; KALITTA CONTINUES HOT STREAK

JOLIET, Ill. - Drag racing legend John Force won his record 120th Funny Car race Sunday at Route 66 Raceway to close to within 48 points of the championship lead.

Doug Kalitta, Kurt Johnson, and Ryan Schnitz joined the 13-time series titlist in the winner's circle of the ninth annual CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals, the 10th of 23 races in the $50 million POWERade Drag Racing Series.

Force's beat teammate Robert Hight in the money round with an off-pace 4.930-second pass at 233.60 mph in his Castrol GTX Ford Mustang after both men encountered engine trouble. Hight posted a 4.890 at 244.56 mph but left the starting line .057 seconds behind Force. Coming into this race, the 13-time champion had tried unsuccessfully on four different occasions to get his 120th victory.

"You get older and you start to wonder what it's going to take," Force said. "I've had to monitor how I sleep the night and what I eat. I used to coffee-up."

Mac Tools ace Kalitta chipped away at Melanie Troxel's lead in Top Fuel by dismissing her in the final round with a 4.503 at 330 mph. With a career-best four wins in his last five races, Kalitta is unquestionably the hottest driver on tour. He may have only gained one round on Troxel at this event but his recent run has trimmed her once daunting lead from 174 to 71 points.

"Rahn [Tobler, crew chief] has a very aggressive tune-up but it's also very safe," Kalitta said. "We were able to stay in the same lane all day and the car was perfect. [Team owner Connie Kalitta] has pulled back a little and let Rahn run the car the way he wants to run it. It's great to see him develop that confidence in what he's doing."

Johnson and Anderson had another great Pro Stock final with Johnson scoring his 34th victory and second of the year by .03 seconds. The Chevrolet Cobalt driver used a great .012- to .050-second reaction time advantage to steal this one away as Anderson's quicker 6.641 at 208.10 mph lost to Johnson's 6.646 at 207.46 mph.

"It was fun to race Greg in the final," Johnson said of his former teammate. "It's all-star boxing when the helmets are on but we're friends again at the other end. Everyone has an opponent that brings out the very best in you. For me that person is Greg."

Schnitz collected his first win of the season and the fourth of his brief 34-race career at the starting line when first-time finalist Matt Guidera got a little too excited and jumped the Christmas Tree by -.004 seconds. It might have been a moot point as Schnitz zoomed to a 7.064 at 182.03 mph to Guidera's 7.105 at 185.08 mph.

"It was Matt's first final and that probably played in my favor," Schnitz said. "He ended up pushing the Tree just a little too hard. I'm sure his pulse was up. He's a good rider and he has a great bike. He'll win one real soon. I just hope it's not against me."

-nhra

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Series NHRA
Drivers Kurt Johnson , John Force , Doug Kalitta , Melanie Troxel , Ryan Schnitz , Connie Kalitta , Robert Hight , Matt Guidera