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Brittany Force earns first Top Fuel victory at Gatornationals

GAINESVILLE — An hour after her first NHRA Top Fuel victory, Brittany Force was clutching the trophy as tightly as she does her steering wheel.

She wasn't about to let go, either. It was that special, even for a member of drag racing's first family.

Force, 29, earned that long-awaited win on Sunday by beating Terry McMillen in the final at the prestigious Gatornationals.

"I've been chasing this for quite a few years," Force said. "I've been wanting it since Day 1. It took a lot of work and a lot of time to get here. It's definitely not as easy as you think it is."

Robert Hight gave John Force Racing its first double ever by winning the Funny Car class. Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also took their categories.

Force, one of 16-time Funny Car champion John Force's three racing daughters, had been winless in seven Top Fuel finals. The No. 5 qualifier knocked off Morgan Lucas (who qualified 12th), Tripp Tatum (13th), Dave Connolly (ninth) and McMillen (14th).

Hight was waiting for her at the finish line.

"The next one's going to come a lot easier," Hight said. "Until you actually win a race, you don't know that you can do it. There's always that element of doubt and now she knows that she can do it."

Force's mom, dad, sister and team celebrated back at the starting line. John Force climbed on his scooter, with his wife Laurie and daughter Courtney in tow, to join the celebration.

"Courtney looked like she was in tears," Brittany Force said. "She had her sunglasses on, so it was hard to tell. She was very excited. My mom was screaming and jumping up and down. My dad actually didn't say much for once. He was a little speechless. He was a little emotional."

John and Courtney Force were both eliminated in the Funny Car quarterfinals.

Brittany Force, in her first season with 11-time Top Fuel champion crew chief Alan Johnson, lost to Leah Pritchett three weeks ago in Phoenix in the first all-female Top Fuel final since 1982.

Hight defeated Ron Capps in his final, Greg Anderson topped Jason Line and Krawiec downed Hector Arana.

Formula One: Nico Rosberg beat Lewis Hamilton in yet another Mercedes 1-2 finish at the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne, but the predictable result disguised an exciting opener, punctuated by a frightening accident that suspended the race. Red flags came out after a high-speed collision between McLaren's Fernando Alonso and Esteban Gutierrez of Haas about a third of the way through the race. Alonso walked away from the crash, in which his car was demolished. While in the pits awaiting a restart, Mercedes made a crucial call, switching to the hardest available tire to set up a run to the finish. Sebastian Vettel's Ferrari was third.

Brittany Force earns first Top Fuel victory at Gatornationals 03/20/16 [Last modified: Sunday, March 20, 2016 8:44pm]
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