Allen Lessels' Motorsports: Courtney Force gets revenge on her father, John Force, in NHRA final in Epping
NHRA funny car driver Courtney Force during the New England Nationals at New England Dragway. (Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports)
EPPING -- IT DIDN'T TAKE Courtney Force long to get her rematch. She quickly turned rematch into revenge.
Force knocked off John Force, her father, in the Funny Car finals and collected the Wally Trophy — honoring NHRA founder Wally Parks — that goes with a win to cap off the successful and jam-packed inaugural Auto Plus NHRA New England Nationals at New England Dragway on Sunday.
"It's awesome," Courtney Force said. "I love it out here. It was great to be able to take home the first win here. No one will be able to take that away from us ... It's great to be able to hold the first New England Dragway trophy. I'm definitely excited. It means a lot to me. It's going in a special place in my house."
Courtney Force lost an extra tight drag race to her father a week ago on Father's Day in Bristol, Tenn., in a first-round matchup in the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.
Last week, Courtney told her dad she wanted to give him a Father's Day present of the day off by beating him in the first round.
That bit of gamesmanship backfired.
"I decided to keep my mouth shut this time," she said, though she admitted she might have mentioned revenge.
John Force topped Courtney last week and went on to his first win in more than a year.
Courtney, who celebrated her 25th birthday in Manchester on Thursday, capped off her birthday week with her second triumph of the season and third in her two years racing Funny Cars.
"I celebrate the whole month," she said with a laugh.
She moved up from seventh to fourth in the Funny Car point standings with the win. John, 64, jumped from ninth to fifth with his runnerup finish.
The Forces marched through the elimination rounds on Sunday, knocking off opponents and putting down similar times en route to the final faceoff.
John beat Ron Capps in the semifinals and Courtney took out Jack Beckham.
They both had a little trouble in the final round and Courtney held on and won with a run of 4.301 and hit a high speed of 261.67. John Force was at 4.367.
"I'm not really sure what was happening," Courtney said. "I think I was spinning tires or I might have dropped a cylinder. . . . I didn't want to make my car even more angry at me. I was so close to the finish line, I wanted to hang on and get that win."
Other Wally winners in the Yello Mello Drag Racing Series on Sunday were Spencer Massey, who held off Shawn Langdon in Top Fuel for his second win of the season; Allen Johnson, who beat Shane Gray for his third win of the year in Pro Stock; and John Hall of Hamden, Conn., who got his first victory in his first appearance in the finals over Adam Arana in Pro Stock Motorcycle.
Massey hit his high speed of 323.81 for the day in a second-round win over seven-time champion Tony Schumacher and overcame wiring issues to beat Doug Kalitta in the semifinals. He turned in a run of 4.105 in the final and is third in points behind leader Langdon and Schumacher.
Massey won an International Hot Rod Association race at New England Dragway in 2010 and was also here in 2008.
"This is probably four, five, 10 times bigger than what I've seen in 2008 and 2010," Massey said. "This track and this whole area have been so diehard ready for NHRA drag racing. Every time I came here for IHRA racing — it's a great, great organization — they'd always want to see John Force come race. They want to see Tony Schumacher. They want to see 20 Top Fuel cars, not just eight or 10."
Nothing against IHRA, he noted.
"I won a Top Fuel championship in 2008 in IHRA, I'm not down on it, I'm not knocking it," he said. "It's something very, very special. But if you win something in NHRA ... For the fans they see NHRA drag racing, it's the best of the best. They can't get any louder, any faster, anything more exciting. They couldn't see it anywhere else. This is it."
And with that, he grabbed his Wally and headed home.
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