POMONA, Calif. – Rarely is John Force ever at a loss for words, but Sunday during the Auto Club NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, there was little that could be said and a whole lot of tears that were flowing at the end of the day.
Force, a 16-time NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series champion driver in his own right, added two more titles to his team’s amazing repertoire Sunday, with teammate Robert Hight winning the Funny Car championship over Ron Capps and daughter Brittany Force taking the Top Fuel crown in thrilling fashion by winning the final race of the season.
The performance netted John Force Racing a sweep of the nitro class championships for the first time in team history, marking the organization’s 19th and 20th NHRA titles in its storied, 30-plus year tenure in the sport.
It also left Force in tears at the starting line during the second round, when Brittany knocked off Richie Crampton to secure the title from Steve Torrence, who lost in his quarterfinal matchup just minutes earlier.
“Oh man, I haven’t figured this out yet,” said John Force. “I’m just proud to see it come together. I expected it from Robert, and I saw Brittany’s lights every round, right there with the hitters. She’s still numb; she doesn’t know what happened.”
“It was like a movie; you couldn’t have written it any better. Sometimes luck’s a big part, but as a team owner, I’ve been really proud how the people have stayed together and fought together and worked together. We put the band back together, that’s what I told Jim Campbell from Chevrolet. Me and Robert work every day, and we said we’d turn it around.”
Not to be outdone, Force made some history of his own, driving the PEAK Coolant & Motor Oil Chevrolet Camaro SS in the team’s 4,000th Funny Car elimination round. He defeated J.R. Todd in the opening round before falling in the quarterfinals.
This year also marked the 30th season that the team’s namesake won at least one race.
The day, though, belonged to his teammates, and Force acknowledged that their accolades are a huge boost to the organization. Force won the team’s last driving championship prior to Sunday in 2013.
“To see him (Hight) win it for Auto Club – they deserved it,” Force said. “They are a great partner.”
“For Brittany, as a father, to watch her go through the gut aches, I was living it with her and so was her mom, and that red light at Las Vegas really hurt her, but I told her, you have to find yourself. And I can’t take any credit. She had a great coach in Alan Johnson, who took a girl and did what (three-time Top Fuel champion) Shirley Muldowney did 35 years ago. He amazes me. They delivered a championship for Monster, and then went on and won the race.”
Force and his team members will be honored for their achievements Monday night during the 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series awards ceremony in Los Angeles.
CREDIT: John Force Racing