Force, Herbert, Morgan, Treble score wins at Fram-Autolite Nationals. SONOMA, Calif. -- John Force raced to his fourth Funny Car victory of the season and 102nd of his career Sunday at the FRAM-Autolite NHRA Nationals. Doug Herbert, Larry...
Force, Herbert, Morgan, Treble score wins at Fram-Autolite Nationals.
SONOMA, Calif. -- John Force raced to his fourth Funny Car victory of the season and 102nd of his career Sunday at the FRAM-Autolite NHRA Nationals.
Doug Herbert, Larry Morgan and Craig Treble also earned victories in their respective categories at the $1.8 million race, the 15th of 23 events in the $50 million NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series.
Force edged Ron Capps at the finish line in one of four final round photo finishes at Infineon Raceway. Force covered the quarter-mile distance in 4.953 seconds at 303.09 mph in his Castrol GTX Ford Mustang to hold off Capps' Skoal Chevy Camaro, which recorded a 4.956 at 300.46.
"When you get going side-by-side like that it's real exciting for the fans," Force said of his sixth win at this track. "We were trucking on down there and I knew it was real close. So close that we didn't know who won. Winning this race is just a credit to (Austin) Coil (crew chief), because he gave me a car that would run 4.90s. It's been a long time since I've had a car that is consistent as it was this weekend."
With the victory, Force extended his points lead to 99 over second place driver Tony Pedregon. Doug Herbert scored his first victory in more than a year and the seventh of his career in Top Fuel, holding off three-time Infineon winner Doug Kalitta at the finish line. Herbert drove his Snap-on Tools dragster to a 4.727 at 308.85 to edge Kalitta's Mac Tools dragster, which posted a 4.766 at 305.36.
"We had a little luck in the first couple of rounds and you need that these days to win a race," said Herbert, who gave up the starting line advantage in early round wins over John Smith and Melanie Troxel, but proved his driving skills with a holeshot victory in the semifinals over Darrell Russell, ending the young drivers' bid for a sweep of the West Coast Swing.
"We're picking up a little momentum," said Herbert of his third final round appearance of the season. "Hopefully were in that mode now. It feels good to win again. You can do all that other stuff off the track, but sometimes you've gotta win a race or two to keep your team and sponsors happy."
POWERade points leader Larry Dixon and rival Kenny Bernstein were upset in the second round. Dixon increased his series lead by one point over Bernstein, to 98.
Larry Morgan won his first Pro Stock title since 1994, driving his Mopar Parts Dodge Neon R/T to the win over top qualifier Greg Anderson. Morgan, who became the 11th different Pro Stock winner this season, used a holeshot start and 6.845 at 201.58 to claim his ninth career victory by the closest margin of the weekend -- a .0002 of-a-second difference -- and defeat Anderson's quicker run of 6.799 at 202.45 in a Chevy Cavalier.
"It's unbelievable to win again," Morgan said. "It's been a while. We've worked really hard and made some major changes to the setup of the car. It's exciting to see the hard work pay off. You begin to wonder if you'll ever win again. I am glad this team was able to do it again today."
Morgan used a consistent setup to defeat some of the category's promising rising stars, including Mark Whisnant, Greg Stanfield and Jeg Coughlin before beating Anderson in the final.
"When you run these kids out here they're so competitive that there's really no room for error," Morgan said. "It's just really tough to win races in this class right now. I'll bet there'll be several more new winners before the season is over."
With the runner-up finish, Anderson cut Jim Yates' series points lead to 14. Craig Treble claimed his fourth Pro Stock Motorcycle victory of the season and fifth of his career by outrunning Matt Hines in a battle between Suzukis. Treble clocked a 7.128 at 185.95 on his Matco Tools two-wheeler to outrun Hines' Eagle One bike, which posted a 7.144 at 188.81.
Treble, who defeated Fred Camarena, Andrew Hines and Angelle Savoie to advance to the final, saved his quickest run of the day for his final round meeting with Hines.
"We loaded it for bear in the final," Treble said. "(The bike) was going to rip off a good run or blow up on that one and fortunately for us, it ripped. We were worried about Matt because the conditions were improving and he was running very well so we tuned it up. What a day. This track is awesome, it's so smooth out there. I'm glad I was able to win the inaugural bike event here, that means a lot."
With the win, Treble cut Savoie's series lead to 82 points. "We just reeled her in two more rounds today," Treble said. "She's definitely in our cross-hairs now."