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Courtney Force wins Funny Car title at Sonoma Nationals; alBalooshi, Line, Krawiec also victorious

WInner's Circle at Sonoma Raceway

From left to right, Khalid alBalooshi, Eddie Krawiec, Jason Line and Courtney Force celebrate with their trophies in the WInner's Circle at Sonoma Raceway, Sunday. (Mike Finnegan/Sonoma Raceway)

By
From page B1 | July 28, 2014 |

SONOMA — It was a family affair and youth got the best of experience.

Courtney Force raced to the win in the Funny Car class during Sunday’s NHRA Sonoma Nationals at Sonoma Raceway, outracing her father John to the finish line to claim the victory.

Courtney turned a lap of 4.253 seconds at 296.24 mph, easily besting dad’s time of 4.405 at 237.05 after he spun the tires approaching the finish line.

Other winners included Khalid alBalooshi in Top Fuel, Jason Line in Pro Stock and Eddie Krawiec in Pro Stock Motorcycle.

But the talk of the track was all about the Forces in the final, and Courtney was ecstatic to get a win over her father.

“I think about way too many things when I’m pulling up there against dad,” Courtney said. “Normally, I’m like calm and collected and whatever is going to happen will happen. But I was so wanting this win. I was telling myself ‘Don’t screw up on the light. Don’t red light. Don’t pull in too deep.’

“I wanted to pull in deep on him but not light the red light and ruin it for my team. It was a typical final round scenario that goes through you head, but it’s even more when it’s against my dad. I was nervous and just didn’t want to screw up.”

As for John, he thought he might have had the win until his tire spin.

“I was outrunning her at half-track by a car and then it rattled,” he said. “I drove through that little bit of rattle and then it blew the tires off. I still thought I had her but she went by me right at the finish line.

“(As for the team), We got the win and we got the money. I moved up in points and she moved up in points.”

It was an all-Team Al-Anabi final in the Top Fuel championship race, with alBalooshi getting to the finish line first with a lap of 3.912 at 309.42 mph ahead of teammate Shawn Langdon (4.008, 271.35).

It was a special win for alBalooshi, who was celebrating his 35th birthday Sunday.

“I knew we had the car for race day,” alBalooshi said. “I was talking before the (final) round and I know exactly what he does,” alBalooshi said. “He told me that his car wasn’t going to smoke the tires. I saw him at half-track and then I went passed him.

“This is one of the best (birthday) gifts I’ve got in my life.”

Line came out of the No. 3 qualifying spot to win the Pro Stock category, outdistancing V Gaines by 16 thousandths of a second (6.548-6.564).

Line also gave Team Chevy its 200th career victory.

“Two hundred is really cool, actually,” Line said. “I’m not big on looking back, but 200 is really cool. I don’t know who (won the 100th) but it’s pretty cool that they keep track of that. I’m very proud to represent GM and to be able to do that.

“As far as my car winning, I rated it as good or better than anybody’s (in the morning). I’ve got a really good race car right now.”

Krawiec and his Harley-Davidson took the title in Sonoma when Jerry Savoie red-lighted at the start by 14 thousandths of second, automatically giving Krawiec the crown.

“Jerry was knocking off (7).81s, 81s, 81s going out there (in the first three rounds). . . . but that’s why we drag race, that’s why we go out there,” Krawiec said. “We made a change with my motorcycle and it went the opposite way. . . . My crew chief stepped back and looked at the data and did what he thought was best. We were lucky to get the win there when Jerry went red.

“With that said, I honestly thought we had the bike to beat him. We were within thousandths of a second every lap. I knew if I did my job on the starting line, I could have turned on the win light.”

Doug Kalitta, who was eliminated in the second round by Langdon, still leads the Top Fuel standings over Antron Brown (1,223-1,177). Robert Hight (1,216-1,097) leads John Force in the Funny Car rankings.

Erica Enders-Stevens, who didn’t race in Sonoma, leads the Pro Stock category over Allen Johnson (1,229-1,107), while Harley-Davidson’s Andrew Hines leads teammate Krawiec in the Pro Stock Motorcycle standings (853-762).

Reach Brian Arnold at 427-6969 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/barnolddr.

Brian Arnold

Brian Arnold

1992 graduate of San Francisco State University with a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism.
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