EPPING, N.H. – In a thrilling final round between teammates, the legendary John Force defeated Robert Hight at New England Dragway, powering to his 153rd Funny Car victory Sunday at the TascaParts.com NHRA New England Nationals presented by Bandero Premium Tequila.
Billy Torrence (Top Fuel) and Aaron Stanfield (Pro Stock) also won in their respective categories at the sixth race of the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season.
Force, NHRA’s all-time wins leader, went 3.972 seconds at 327.51 mph in his 11,000-horsepower PEAK/BlueDEF Platinum Chevrolet Camaro SS to edge out teammate Hight’s 3.993-second pass at 323.35 mph. It gives the John Force Racing team its third-straight win this year and handed Force his second victory of the year. Force, who is now second in points, got past Cory Lee, J.R. Todd, and Terry Haddock to reach the final round for the 259th time in his career. He never trailed against Hight, winning for the second time in Epping and picking up the victory in Funny Car’s 900th career race.
“(The win) represents a team effort. You have to look at both of these cars and all the people that take care of me, that’s what it’s all about,” said Force, who has won two of the last three races this year. “Robert helps me so much trying to help me back in the driver’s seat where I don’t suck so bad and, right now, I’ve got a car and I won today, and I did my job. I want to thank all the people in Epping for coming back and I want to thank Daniel Hood for a great tune-up, and (Tim) Fabrisi for fixing the cockpit in my car.”
Coming off a win at the most recent event, Hight advanced to his third final this year and 83rd in his career on Sunday, beating Alexis DeJoria, local favorite and points leader Bob Tasca III and Tim Wilkerson.
Torrence, who qualified No. 1, finished off his standout Top Fuel weekend in Epping with a victory, beating Mike Salinas on a holeshot in his 11,000-horsepower Capco Contractors dragster. Torrence went 3.827 seconds at 324.44 mph to Salinas’ 3.816-second pass at 325.37 mph, but the Texan was slightly quicker on the starting line to earn his first victory of the year and seventh in his career. Following back-to-back wins by his son, Steve Torrence, the defending three-time world champ and points leader, it was Billy Torrence who impressed throughout the weekend at New England Dragway. He knocked off Joe Morrison and Antron Brown and then did his job on the starting line in the final round.
“I’ll tell you what, number one, I’ve got to thank the good Lord for watching over me and, number two, I’ve got thank those Capco boys, and the elation is I won a trophy for my little granddaughter,” said Billy Torrence, who picked up his first win at the track. “Steve’s been winning all the trophies for her and the old man will finally show up with one now. This place, I love it. The fans here are outstanding.”
Salinas, who qualified second, reached his first final round this year and sixth in his career thanks to victories against Buddy Hull, Doug Kalitta, and Steve Torrence.
Facing off with a class legend in the finals, Stanfield again came through with a clutch performance, beating four-time world champ Greg Anderson with a run of 6.576 seconds at 209.88 mph in his Janac Brothers Chevrolet Camaro. Stanfield’s first victory came a year ago when he beat Jeg Coughlin Jr. in the final round, and his second came on Sunday against Anderson. He reached the championship round with round wins against Alan Prusiensky, Richie Stevens, and Mason McGaha before leading Anderson from start to finish in the finals.
“It’s been a lot of hard work from all the guys on the team,” said Stanfield, who jumped to second in points. “They’ve been working a lot on this hot rod and I’ve been trying to do my best to do my job behind the wheel. It all gelled together today. Getting to race somebody you grew up watching do well over the years, it’s cool to race him and beat him, so we’re happy.”
Anderson, the No. 1 qualifier and points leader in the class, beat John Gaydosh, Troy Coughlin Jr., and Matt Hartford to make it to his third final round this year and 161st in his career.