It took Brittany Force nearly 3½ years and 75 events to get her first NHRA Top Fuel title.
The second didn’t take nearly as long, as Force won in the Top Fuel final at zMax Dragway on Sunday to claim her first NHRA Four-Wide Nationals title.
“Everyone always told me, ‘The first (win) is definitely tough to get,’ ” said Force, 29, whose first career win came March 20 at Gainesville, Fla.
“But the second one, for it to come this quickly, is amazing. My team is definitely capable of doing anything. They put together a car that just ran consistently every single run.”
Force – the daughter of 16-time Funny Car champion John Force – beat Antron Brown, Doug Kalitta and Clay Millican in the Top Fuel final to become the first female driver to win a Four-Wide Nationals title in any of the pro divisions.
Force also became the first female driver to win in either of the nitro-fueled classes – Top Fuel or Funny Car – at zMax Dragway, and the second to win there in any of the pro divisions. Erica Enders-Stevens was the first, taking the Pro Stock title at the 2015 NHRA Carolina Nationals.
She beat Brown off the starting line by 0.011 seconds, and extended her lead at the finish to 0.013 seconds. Force’s winning pass came in 3.764 seconds at 319.98 mph.
“It’s a whole new ballgame here” in the Four-Wide Nationals, said Force, who now leads the Top Fuel standings by 63 points over Brown (428-365). “You’re staging with three other cars, which is a challenge.
“I screwed up in qualifying (third-fastest), and lost my focus. But my guys told me to let that go, and go into Sunday as a new day. That’s what we did, and it worked out.”
Wilkerson gets 1st Four-Wide title
Tim Wilkerson is making a habit of following the NHRA’s female Top Fuel winners with a win of his own in the Funny Car division.
Wilkerson, 55, won his first Four-Wide Nationals title Sunday (and his first at zMax Dragway), just before Force won the Top Fuel title.
“I noticed that – Leah won and I won, then Brittany won and I won,” said Wilkerson, whose first win came at Phoenix on Feb. 28, the same day Leah Pritchett won the Top Fuel title. “I think I’m the one making them win – after all, I won each time first.”
Wilkerson beat out Cruz Pedregon, Matt Hagan and Ron Capps in the final, posting a run of 3.967 seconds at 315.56 mph for his 20th career title, tying with Whit Bazemore for 10th in NHRA history.
Line gets 3rd Pro Stock win of 2016
Jason Line continued Mooresville-based KB Racing’s dominance in the Pro Stock division by winning his second career title at zMax Dragway, and his first in the Four-Wide Nationals.
Line beat out Bo Butner, Drew Skillman and Chris McGaha in the finals for his third win in five final-round appearances this season.
His winning pass came in 6.565 seconds at 211.33 mph, and put Line 102 points (583-481) ahead of teammate Greg Anderson in the standings.
Line’s 40th career win also moved him into a tie with Kurt Johnson and Mike Edwards for fifth all-time in Pro Stock victories.
Hines adds to zMax wins total
Andrew Hines added to his career win total at zMax Dragway by taking his third straight Four-Wide Nationals title in Pro Stock Motorcycle on Sunday.
Hines beat out Vance & Hines Racing teammate Eddie Krawiec, Matt Smith and Chip Ellis in the finals for his sixth career victory at zMax, best among all NHRA pro divisions.
Hines’ winning pass came in 6.844 seconds at 195.42 mph, and pulled him within 35 points of Krawiec (232-197) in the division standings.
Hines’ 44th career win moved within one of tying with the late Dave Schultz, who died of cancer in 2001, atop the all-time Pro Stock Motorcycle victories list.
Sportsman division winners during Sunday’s Four-Wide Nationals were Megan Meyer of Spring Hill, Kan. (top alcohol dragster), Kris Hool of Evansville, Wyo. (top alcohol funny car), David Rampy of Piedmont, Ala. (competition eliminator), Bryan Worner of Duncannon, Pa. (super stock), Jeff Harrington of Kathleen, Ga. (stock eliminator), Ray Miller of Spring Hill, Tenn. (super comp), Jim Perry of Niota, Tenn. (super gas), and Mark Payne of Waynesboro, Va. (top sportsman).