The Monster Energy Dragster driver outlasted Steve Torrence, who arrived at the season finale with eight victories and the points lead. He lost to 2016 champion Antron Brown in the quarterfinals, and Force eliminated Richie Crampton in the next pairing to record her first championship in only her fifth season in the sport’s headliner class.
“This just seems like a dream. I never knew we could ever get here. And the reason we are here is because of that Monster team and all the support that I have,” she said. “We struggled. We had our ups and downs. But we pulled it together when it mattered most.
“I have to give all this up to my crew chiefs, Alan Johnson and Brian Husen. They are the ones that made this possible. They never gave up on me. They always had my back, and they kept pushing for more. And I can’t believe we’re here. This is just unbelievable. I have to thank my Dad and my family. They always had my back, no matter what. This is a very proud moment.”
Force joined Robert Hight who earlier in the day won the Funny Car title, to give John Force Racing a nitro-class championship sweep Sunday at the NHRA Finals at Pomona, Calif.
Then both advanced to the final round at Auto Club Raceway, where Force won the event trophy against final-round opponent Shawn Langdon and Hight was runner-up to Tommy Johnson Jr.
Force left Langdon in his own tire smoke, blasting to a 3.668-second elapsed time at 330.07 mph in her Monster Energy Dragster. Hight was coming back from a semifinal engine explosion, fire, and wall-banging accident in his Auto Club Chevy Camaro that left him in the top-end sand trap.
Force and Hight joined Pro Stock’s Bo Butner and Pro Stock Motorcycle’s Eddie Krawiec on the champions podium. In the Pro Stock Motorcycle final, Andrew Hines knocked off his Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Street Rod teammate Eddie Krawiec, the newly crowned class champion.
Butner won the race and the championship, ambushing points leader and KB/Summit Racing Chevy Camaro teammate Greg Anderson for his first Pro Stock title. Butner beat Anderson in the semifinal, then rookie whiz Tanner Gray in the final.
A tearful Hight clinched his second Funny Car championship and first since 2009 in the opening round. Having advanced already to the quarterfinals, he watched as nemesis Ron Capps, seeking back-to-back titles, lost his match against Del Worsham.
“I knew this Auto Club team was just an adjustment away,” Hight said, alluding to his failure to qualify in his first three of four attempts and took the lowly No. 15 spot in the 16-car field at the last minute Saturday.
“It’s been a long time and you want it so bad. This is just huge for John Force Racing,” Hight, who doubles as the organization’s president, said.