As the 2019 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season begins to wind down, girl power is beginning to heat up as two of this sport’s most impressive drivers found a way to fuel their fire at this weekend’s Dodge NHRA Nationals presented by Pennzoil. 2017 Top Fuel champion Brittany Force, whose second win of the season could not have come at a better time, lowered the boom on points leader Steve Torrence in Sunday’s final round at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Pro Stock driver Erica Enders’ 150th win for women in the National Hot Rod Association catapulted her to a huge Pro Stock points lead going into the final race of the season.
Much like last season, the final two drivers who seem to have the best shot of earning a world championship are now only separated by 16 points following their latest legendary battle at this weekend’s historic 900th Top Fuel event in NHRA history. It was clear early on that the points would be the big story of the day after the top seven drivers in the Top Fuel points battle all won in the first round, with the top four proceeding to the semifinals.
The most impressive of these drivers began her war path after taking down Pat Dakin in Sunday’s first round with a 3.689-second pass. This led the daughter of Funny Car king John Force to her rookie teammate Austin Prock; she defeated him for the fourth time this season. Then, before driving to Sunday’s final round against the younger Torrence Racing driver, Force had to face one last hurdle. Despite being hot off his win in Dallas, Billy Torrence fell short thanks to Force’s holeshot victory of 3.714-seconds.
This impressive win would ultimately lead Force to what some might deem her Goliath. While points leader Steve Torrence put up one heck of a battle in Sunday’s final, Brittany Force’s David Grubnic-tuned Advance Auto Parts dragster streaked to a track record of 3.652-seconds for her 10th win and her first since the Houston event in April.
“I have always wanted to win in Las Vegas,” said Force. “We set the national speed record at this track and we also held the E.T. record, so we’ve accomplished a lot here, but we are really after that win as well as the world championship. We knew it would be tough to accomplish this next goal, but we got the job done.”
Force wasn’t the only female driver to drive her way to the top this weekend. Current Pro Stock point leader Erica Enders captured the 200th win for the Chevy Camaro in the Pro Stock category in her Elite Motorsports Chevy Camaro after taking down Steve Graham, Matt Hartford and Bo Butner en route to her fifth final of the season.
While she would have to face teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr. in Sunday’s final round, she ended up having no trouble outrunning her teammate by .003-seconds for yet another win, extending her lead to 92 points over teammate Jeg Coughlin Jr. going into the final race at Pomona.
“This latest win is fueling my adrenaline,” said Enders. “I don’t think complacency is a word in my vocabulary, and we are going to go out to Pomona to win the race and ultimately the championship.”
Another well known driver fought past a tough start to the Countdown to the Championship to earn his second straight win and a chance at the 2019 Funny Car world championship. The Mopar team of driver Matt Hagan and tuner Dickie Venables seemed to come alive this weekend after carving their way to Sunday’s final round with a steady string of runs 3.90-seconds to beat Paul Lee, 3.86-seconds to defeat Tommy Johnson Jr., and 3.881-seconds to put the brakes on Bob Tasca III’s hopes to continue to climb the points ladder to take on Jonnie Lindberg in the final.
In front of a packed house that included executives from both of his primary sponsors, Dodge and Pennzoil, Hagan defeated upset-minded Jonnie Lindberg in the final, 3.87 to 3.94, to climb to third in the points battle going into the final race in Pomona.
“I think a lot of people wrote us off after St. Louis,” said Hagan. “Everyone was kind of moping around and when we bounced back recently all I could think was, ‘Wow, we can still do this,’ and now I am going to get my pom-poms out and start cheering because we are still in this thing.”
Stay tuned to RacingJunk.com as the champions of the NHRA compete in the final race in the Countdown to the Championship at the Auto Club NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona in Pomono, CA Nov. 14-17, 2019.
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