MORRISON — It was an ideal day for John Force Racing’s funny cars, and Don Schumacher Racing was equally pleased with its top fuel results. The juggernaut nitro-powered teams found themselves in triumphant situations before Sunday’s finals of the 37th Mopar Mile-High Nationals at Bandimere Speedway.
John Force won the all-JFR funny car final, defeating daughter Courtney Force for his record-tying seventh title at Bandimere, and DSR’s Tony Schumacher defeated teammate Antron Brown in the top fuel final. Force and Schumacher have combined for 24 world championships, but neither had won a race in the past year.
The other division winners were Allen Johnson (pro stock) and Andrew Hines (pro stock motorcycle). Johnson, who made it to his 10th consecutive final round at Bandimere, became the first driver not named Greg Anderson or Jason Line to win in pro stock this season (13 races). And Hines edged out teammate Eddie Krawiec in an all-Harley Davidson pro stock bike final that featured the two quickest times on two wheels in track history.
All three of JFR’s funny cars advanced to the semifinals. John Force, the legendary 16-time funny car world champion, beat Del Worsham before Courtney Force ousted her brother-in-law and fellow JFR driver Robert Hight. Force, 67, raced his 28-year-old daughter in his 244th career final round and, with a slightly faster start, beat Courtney, who was quicker (3.963-seconds to 3.965).
“I am not dead yet, and when I am, my kids and Robert Hight will take it over,” Force said from the winner’s podium.
Force, who reached a top speed of 319.45 mph, tied Bob Glidden of pro stock with seven all-time victories at Bandimere. He entered Bandimere just 13-13 on the year and ninth in the standings.
“I needed this real bad, and I told Courtney, ‘You’re my baby, I love you, I know you want to do this for (sponsor) Traxxas, but I’m giving this everything I got,’ ” said Force, who won a major-league race for the 29th year, the most in all of motorsports. “I had a little anxiety attack … but it’s a great day to come here on God’s mountain and look like we know what we’re doing.”
Schumacher, an eight-time world champion, won for the third time at Bandimere, and first since 2008. He did it from the No. 9 qualifying position, knocking out Doug Kalitta and defending winner Steve Torrence in the first two rounds. Torrence made the quickest passes in every qualifying round and ran a 3.843-second, 321.35 mph pass to win his first round. But he blew an engine against the tire-smoking Schumacher
“We spun the tires and he caught me off-guard,” Schumacher said. “When that win light came on, I was probably as excited as I was after the final round.”
About ending his nonwinning streak, Schumacher said: “Thank God we figured it out. You start to lose a little faith when you make big changes to a car and you don’t see those win lights. It’s a very difficult thing. But to win a championship, you don’t try to bring out an equal car with everyone else. You have very smart people design very smart cars that do things that other cars can’t do. It’s what we’re great at — adaptability.”
Team owner and father Don Schumacher added: “Great weekend here at Bandimere. They do such a phenomenal job here. Great, great day.”
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