Bristol Full race Story

BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Eight-time NHRA Winston Funny Car champion John Force earned the crown of professional drag racing's king by winning the inaugural Winston Showdown July 11 at Bristol Dragway, the first NHRA drag race to feature Top Fuel...

BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Eight-time NHRA Winston Funny Car champion John Force earned the crown of professional drag racing's king by winning the inaugural Winston Showdown July 11 at Bristol Dragway, the first NHRA drag race to feature Top Fuel dragsters against Funny Cars. Force marched through a lineup of some of the best Top Fuel drivers in the sport, including Cory McClenathan, Jim Head, Doug Kalitta and Cristen Powell before defeating Bob Vandergriff in Sunday's rain-delayed final to earn the fifth NHRA all-star event victory of his career. Jeg Coughlin, Matt Hines and Randy Daniels were also winners in their respective pro categories at the $1.1 million race. Force, driving a special edition Superman Racing Castrol Ford Mustang, collected the $200,000 payday by crossing the finish line in front of the Jerzees dragster driver following a wild side-by-side, tire-smoking battle. The final was truly a showdown, showcasing the two No. 1 qualifiers from their respective fields. "I've been at this game for over 20 years and I've got a lot of trophies and championships, but this is the biggest win of my career," said Force, 50, from Yorba Linda, Calif. "This is a once in a lifetime deal and we were the first to do it. I was a day late on being the first to run four seconds and I also missed out on that first 300 (mph) run. The dragsters are still the kings of the sport, but for this day Funny Cars rule." Force covered the quarter-mile in 5.470 seconds at 262.18 mph, while Vandergriff finished just behind, running 5.876 at 243.90. "We were going for the throat on that run and it smoked the tires," said Vandergriff, who had an incredible weekend considering he entered the historic event not occupying one of the 10 guaranteed starting spots in his category. "At first it lost traction, but then I got back on the gas when I saw Force heading for the wall. He corrected his car and we didn't have enough track to run him down. It's hard to have that money right in front of you and not be able to grab it." Funny Car competitors received a .370 second handicap at the starting line in the competition, based on average elapsed times posted during qualifying. Vandergriff, who helped bump the handicap up from .318 seconds with his No. 1 qualifying effort of 4.559 seconds, said the head-start was a little steep, but not unfair for the Top Fuel contingent. In overall head-to-head matches during eliminations, Top Fuelers claimed a 12-11 advantage over the Funny Car crowd. "Anybody could have won tonight, the format worked out great," said Vandergriff, who defeated Funny Car drivers Al Hofmann, Tommy Johnson Jr. and Chuck Etchells, along with fellow dragster driver Tony Schumacher to make it to the final. "It wasn't dominated by either side. I don't think any round was lost by a dragster due to the handicap. But anytime you give up that much of a start to a car like the one John Force drives, you've got your work cut out for you." Coughlin, from Columbus, Ohio, claimed the Pro Stock top prize by defeating brother Troy in an all-Oldsmobile Cutlass final, running 7.004 at 196.85, while Troy ran 9.982 at 91.63. It is the second $50,000 payday for Jeg this season, also the winner of the Holley Pro Stock Dominator Duel at Englishtown, N.J., in May. "We have had great success this season in the special events," he said. "Our program has been coming along extremely well. To race Troy here in the final is pretty awesome for our entire team. I think you're going to hear a lot of noise out of the yellow and black team for the rest of the season." Trinidad, Colo.'s Hines took the $10,000 Pro Stock Motorcycle victory in a battle of Suzuki's against veteran Dave Schultz. Hines, a two-time Winston champion, ran 7.347 at 185.92 on his Eagle One mount, pulling away from Schultz's Sunoco bike, which went 7.461 at 183.05. "It really felt like old times this weekend, the bike was running great," Hines said. "We had no pressure here this weekend and the track was awesome. I'm looking forward to the last half of the season. We want to take this momentum and build on it." Birthday-boy Daniels, from Grantsboro, N.C., earned the $15,000 Pro Stock Truck winner's share by defeating a red-lighting Brad Jeter in a rematch of the Chevrolet S-10 competitors from the season-opening Winternationals from Pomona, Calif. "It's a real thrill to pull this win off," said Daniels, who turned 31 Sunday. "We had a fast truck and made some adjustments for the final with Jeter and it paid off. It was a great weekend." The next NHRA Winston Drag Racing Series event is the 21st annual Mopar Parts Mile-High Nationals, July 15-18, at Bandimere Speedway, near Denver.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Jim Head , Matt Hines , Jeg Coughlin , Brad Jeter , Al Hofmann , John Force , Tony Schumacher , Doug Kalitta , Randy Daniels , Tommy Johnson , Chuck Etchells , Cory McClenathan , Bob Vandergriff , Cristen Powell