John Force finds winner's circle at Topeka

Just 252 days ago, John Force was airlifted out of Texas Motorplex in Dallas with career-threatening injuries after a 320 mile-an-hour crash. Today Force realized the fruits of his intense rehabilitation efforts by winning his 126th career NHRA ...

Just 252 days ago, John Force was airlifted out of Texas Motorplex in Dallas with career-threatening injuries after a 320 mile-an-hour crash. Today Force realized the fruits of his intense rehabilitation efforts by winning his 126th career NHRA Funny Car event at the O'Reilly NHRA Summer Nationals at Heartland Park Topeka. Hillary Will and Ron Krisher also capped the weekend off with wins.

His first win since August 2007, Force has won at least one NHRA national event for 22 consecutive seasons. He met Tim Wilkerson in today's Funny Car final round. Wilkerson got out of the groove just before half track and Force drove smoothly down the quarter mile to victory lane with a 4.996 at 299.66 mph.

"It's huge for me mentally," Force said. "You watch these kids work around the clock [on the car] and you think it just ain't fair if you can't deliver as a driver. It's not fair to them [to stay in the seat] just because I own it.

"At the end of the day, winning is what it's all about," Force continued. "I know every driver says that, but when you've won like me, you begin to take it for granted. And then I got slapped [with the Dallas crash] and I don't take it for granted no more. I told Ashley today, 'I'm gonna go after you baby.'"

Force defeated his daughter Ashley in the first round of eliminations then went on to beat Gary Densham and Ron Capps. Wilkerson eliminated Frank Hawley, Jerry Toliver and Gary Scelzi to reach the final.

His win pushed Force into third place in the Funny Car championship points standings behind Wilkerson and daughter Ashley.

Hillary Will grabbed her first national NHRA event win with a Top Fuel victory, making her the 11th woman to win a national event. Will faced off against top qualifier Larry Dixon in the final. Dixon led the race early, but hazed the tires after the 330 mark. Will drove around him and got the win light with her 4.744 second run at 304.53 mph.

"Words can't describe how I feel right now," Will said. "I have dreamed of this day for so long, and it's finally here. My KB racing team is awesome. They've given me such a great race car all year long and I can't thank them and my team owners enough for everything that they have done for me and this wonderful opportunity."

Will is the 11th woman to win a national NHRA event and the 8th female Top Fuel winner. She joins other recent auto racing female winners Ashley Force, Melanie Troxel and IndyCar's Danica Patrick.

"This is definitely the year of the woman racer," Will contends. "It's an honor for me to be mentioned with all of the great women who have raced and won."

Will defeated Doug Herbert, Morgan Lucas and Cory McClenathan in earlier rounds. Dixon eliminated Brandon Bernstein and Antron Brown to reach the final. With only 15 Top Fuel cars at the event, as the top qualifier Dixon received a bye in the first round, only the second bye in his career.

Defending POWERade champion Tony Schumacher increased his points lead, now carrying a 109 point advantage over Antron Brown.

It's been more than five years since Ron Krisher hoisted a Wally, but he did just that today after beating Larry Morgan in the Pro Stock final round. Morgan had a good start, but lost traction almost immediately and Krisher sailed to the win a 6.758 second run at 204.70 mph.

"Nobody beat us out there today, we took every round," Krisher said. "It had a lot to do with Tommy Utt and the whole bunch of guys who make up this team. A lot of people don't understand, but they have to get this car ready to go in 45 minutes every time and there can't be any mistakes. They don't make any.

"I got my driving back, or more confidence in my driving and that's what I needed," Krisher shared. "If I ever came out here with the thought I'd never win again then I'd quit. We've won this one, and we're going to win some more this year, you wait and see."

Krisher defeated Todd Hoerner, Rickie Jones and Kurt Johnson to reach the final versus Morgan who eliminated Allen Johnson, Dave Connolly and Jeg Coughlin in earlier rounds.

Kurt Johnson's strong day pushed him to the top of the Pro Stock point standings with a 20 point lead over defending champion Jeg Coughlin.

NHRA POWERade teams head to Chicagoland next weekend for the 11th annual NHRA Route 66 Nationals at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet.

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Series NHRA
Drivers Doug Herbert , Antron Brown , Jeg Coughlin , Larry Dixon , Kurt Johnson , Ron Capps , John Force , Tony Schumacher , Gary Scelzi , Ron Krisher , Larry Morgan , Gary Densham , Cory McClenathan , Tim Wilkerson , Ashley Force , Melanie Troxel , Brandon Bernstein , Allen Johnson , Morgan Lucas , Jerry Toliver , Hillary Will , Dave Connolly , Rickie Jones , Frank Hawley , Todd Hoerner , Danica Patrick