“Historic victories” was the name of the game at this weekend’s 32nd annual Magic Dry Absorbent NHRA Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceways, especially for one of this sport’s most legendary drivers. It has been a long road for the patriarch of the John Force Racing family to become the first driver to reach the 150-win mark, but after once again reigniting his Funny Car spark this weekend, John Force finally felt a huge weight lifted off of his shoulders.
Beginning with his first victory in Montreal, Canada, in 1987 to 16 Funny Car championships, the NHRA’s winningest driver rolled to yet another milestone victory at Pacific Raceways. After taking down Jim Campbell, JFR teammate and points leader Robert Hight and Jack Beckman, Force moved on Sunday to reach the final round for the 253rd time in his NHRA career.
Much as in his 149th win, last year in Denver, John Force matched up with long-time friend Ron Capps in Sunday’s final round. After lining up side by side, both Force and Capps left almost as one, with a slight edge to Capps, before Force’s Peak Auto Lighting Chevy roared ahead to a 3.97-second victory over last year’s event champion Ron Capps for his 150th Funny Car win.
“This is such a huge relief,” said Force. “It has been 25 races, since Denver last year, and my poor team has had to put up with me all year complaining about how this PEAK Chevrolet Camaro has been performing, so to have this monkey off my back makes all of our hard work to improve all worth it.
“Give me a good race car, I can race. I may not be as young as these kids and a hot shot on that Tree, but I can still get it done. I’m glad it’s over and I can calm down now and not live with that, thinking you’d never get it. I know I’ve only got a few years left. I want to enjoy it. I want to have fun. And when you can’t win … I’ve been trained to win and without that it’s just not fun.”
Despite this historic victory, Force continues sit behind teammate Robert Hight in the Funny Car point standings heading into the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway.
The president of John Force Racing wouldn’t be the only team driver to find himself in the Winner’s Circle this weekend at Pacific Raceways. Everyone knows that rookie Top Fuel driver Austin Prock has a winning pedigree, but JFR’s newest winning driver took what he has learned from driver’s like John Force to take down drivers like Leah Pritchett, Clay Millican and Mike Salinas before taking on tire-smoking points leader Steve Torrence in Sunday’s final round.
Not counting the times that his father, crew chief Jimmy Prock, has had a car that he was tuning in a final round, it was the first time in 43 years that a Prock raced for a Wally, dating back to the 1976 event in Montreal, where Austin’s grandfather, Tom, lost in the Funny Car final to Don Prudhomme.
Now, John Force Racing’s newest winning rookie driver picked up one of the most impressive professional wins by going 3.875-seconds at 307.86 MPH in his Montana Brand/Rocky Mountain Twist dragster to take down the rocket Steve Torrence.
“This is a dream come true,” said Prock. “I have wanted this since deciding to drive a Top Fuel car. To get the win with my dad as well as alongside the legendary John Force is amazing. I just have to thank the Lord above and John Force for giving me this opportunity.”
Although Torrence wouldn’t pull off a win this weekend, he continues to lead the Top Fuel point standings as the series moves onto the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals.
Although John Force Racing was all the rage at the 32nd annual Magic Dry Absorbent NHRA Northwest Nationals, the Pro Stock division led to a whole different kind of victor. While not many people would have given Matt Hartford very good odds at pulling off a victory at Pacific Raceways, this single car team driver launched his day on Sunday with a victory over points leader Bo Butner, as well as low qualifier Jeg Coughlin Jr., who rattled the tires on the JEGS.com Camaro, and Deric Kramer before moving onto the final round against recent Pro Stock victor Greg Anderson.
While most would have given Anderson all of the odds at taking down Hartford, Sunday’s Pro Stock final round was just the opposite. Thanks to a strong .023 reaction time and a 6.606-second pass, Hartford found his way to his second career win.
“This win is so incredible,” said Hartford. “Greg is obviously one of the best who’s ever raced in the class, and he’d beaten me 10 times out of 10 times, but I told him he’s like a slot machine, that I’m going to keep pulling the handle and sooner or later he’s going to pay out, and this weekend it did,” said Hartford.
The 2019 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season continues at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, in Brainerd, MN August 15-18. Stay tuned to RacingJunk.com for all your NHRA coverage!