What a Sea­son … What a Fi­nal Race!

Drag Racer - - The Mongoo$e Journals -


Af­ter all of the years I've raced, I'm not the best spec­ta­tor, but the NHRA Fi­nals re­ally held my at­ten­tion. Talk about ac­tion and drama, a Hol­ly­wood scriptwriter couldn't have dreamed up a bet­ter end­ing for this sea­son.

I'm happy for John Force Rac­ing (JFR). He and his teams had one heck of a year. John's daugh­ter, Brit­tany, did a great job in 2017. Un­less you've been liv­ing in a cave, you know she won the Top Fuel World Cham­pi­onship—the first woman to do so since Shirley Mul­downey's third ti­tle in 1982. Her driv­ing steadily im­proved through­out the year. Prior to the count­down, she'd won a race and was low qual­i­fier at sev­eral races, but once the play­offs started, she re­ally came into her own: She won three and run­nered-up once. Go­ing into elims at the fi­nals, she was down nine points to Steve Tor­rence, who had one hell of a sea­son him­self with eight wins. Talk about pres­sure, es­pe­cially all she was putting on her­self. I know first­hand that you don't want to dis­ap­point your team, spon­sors, fans or fam­ily. There's so much on the line, but she re­ally stepped up. She and Tor­rence won their first rounds, and in the sec­ond, she beat Cramp­ton, and Tor­rence lost a crusher to An­tron Brown. The cham­pi­onship was hers. Some thought once the pres­sure was off she'd slack off a bit, but no. Brit­tany kept her fo­cus and won the race. It was a heck of a sea­son. Con­grats also to Alan John­son and Brit­tany's crew chief, Brian Hu­san.

Talk about drama, Brit­tany's team­mate Robert Hight re­ally kept every­body guess­ing. Af­ter an up-and-down sea­son that saw him, Jimmy Prock and Chris Cun­ning­ham reel off record-break­ing speeds and ETs, go­ing into the fi­nals, he had a 20-point lead over Ron Capps. Capps, like Tor­rence, had a great sea­son, lead­ing in the points by a large mar­gin for most of the year.

Well, Hight couldn't get down the track and just barely qual­i­fied 15th on his fi­nal pass. What­ever the prob­lem was, the crew found it and Hight ran a 3.83 first round to win. Capps and Rahn Tobler had been steady all sea­son, but came up short and Hight won his sec­ond cham­pi­onship.

His first, with Jimmy

Prock, was in 2009. Con­grat­u­la­tions to Triple A and Tom McKer­nan.

On pa­per, you'd have thought it would be Court­ney Force win­ning a cham­pi­onship. She went to five fi­nal rounds (three in the count­down) and qual­i­fied #1 seven times. But all of the nec­es­sary pieces didn't fall into place for her this sea­son.

I can't for­get John Force. Win­ning the Ga­tors this year marked the 30th sea­son he's won at least one race. In Funny Car,

JFR fin­ished 1 (Hight), 3 (Court­ney) and 7 (John) in fi­nal points to­tals. The two cham­pi­onships bring the team's to­tal to 20. Con­grats to all in­volved.

And how about Pro Stock champ Bo But­ner— what a nail-biter—win­ning the cham­pi­onship in the fi­nal round of the fi­nal race? He was 53 points down to Greg An­der­son go­ing into Pomona. I wouldn't have given him a chance, but he ended up beat­ing An­der­son in the semis. In the fi­nals, he met that kid Tan­ner Gray who's been leav­ing on every­body this sea­son. He did it again, but But­ner caught up and beat him. He took the cham­pi­onship by seven points.

It was also a great year for Terry McMillen and Clay Mil­li­can. Mil­li­can had been a killer in IHRA T/F rac­ing, he'd won six straight world cham­pi­onships, but in NHRA, he'd run very well, but never broke into the win­ner's cir­cle. In Bris­tol, he fi­nally scored his first NHRA win. McMillen had been bat­tling for eight or nine years for his first NHRA win and fi­nally got one at Ve­gas. They both have de­vel­oped strong pro­grams and should see more wins in 2018.

Once again, un­for­tu­nately, I close on a dark note. Re­cently, we lost Gas Ronda and Bett Henry. They will be missed. We also lost this mag­a­zine's first edi­tor, Scott Cochran. To those who knew him, Cochran was quite a char­ac­ter. Cur­rent and long-time Man­ag­ing Edi­tor Michelle Sal­cedo also worked with him for many years and re­mem­bers a lot of crazy and hi­lar­i­ous times around the of­fice. Cochran was good peo­ple, and he'll be missed.

I hope you all had a great Thanks­giv­ing and a Merry Christ­mas. May the New Year bring you all good things. Thanks for rid­ing along for an­other year.

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