The NHRA returned to Virginia Motorsports Park for the first time in three years and the weather provided an interesting variety of variables. Overcast and wet, overcast and cool, partly sunny, yet very warm. These changes would often come abruptly, making it more difficult on the crew chiefs to get the best out of their race cars. In some case, almost none of the Top Fuel or Funny Cars could make good runs, then the conditions would change and the cars would run near record times. In both scenarios, it provided some great on track racing, as the drivers often had to showcase their skills in getting their cars down the track to the finish line first.
Brittany Force is quickly becoming a “Force” to be reckoned with in Top Fuel. Her car is nearly always the quickest and fastest car at the event, as it has been for about the last three years. She is one of the best drivers in the Top Fuel category at keeping the car centered in the best traction area of the lane (commonly called the groove), so the car is able to get the most out of the tune-up. Her weak link has been starting line reaction times. This season she has worked hard to correct that weakness and her efforts have paid off. As has been the usual, her crew chief David Grubnic, once again, gave her the ‘baddest’ hot rod in the class and she qualified at the top. As there were only 15 cars for the 16-car eliminations ladder, she received a bye run in the opening round. This allowed her crew chief to further test what the race track would allow in his tune-up. It was the only eliminations run where her car lost traction, but she simply idled to the free round win. From that point on, her car was the best in class and thundered in to the final round, where she would match up with Steve Torrence. He had become a tough nemesis over the last three to four years, often beating her on hole shots when her car ran quicker. But this is a new year and Force has become an improved driver. She beat Torrence on the starting line (0.074 to 0.078) and thundered to a 3.77 at 334.07 mph to 3.781 at 326.24 mph win. It was her third win of the season and put her on top of the season Top Fuel championship point battle by 17 points over Mike Salinas.
In Funny Car, Robert Hight, who qualified 10th, dominated (performance wise) each round as he marched into a final round match up with the points leader, Matt Hagan. In the final, Hagan got away first (0.070 to 0.075), but Hight quickly made that up before 100 feet, streaking to his third win of the season, 3.907 at 328.86 mph to 3.948 at 327.59 mph. Hight now has 74 event wins in his career and is within 22 points of Hagan in the NHRA Camping World Funny Car season points race.
In Pro Stock, Steve Johnson has been the talk of the town in the class having won the last two events. Once again he looked to be the rider with the bike to beat. He had better reaction times than each opponent he faced and the quicker motorcycle, to boot. In the final he would match up against his big time competitive rival, Matt Smith. But Smith was ready for him, as he left first (0.048 to 0.110) and held on for a 6.842 at 198.35 mph to 6.786 at 198.06 mph hole shot win. Johnson did take over the Pro Stock Motorcycle season championship point battle lead by six points over Karen Stoffer.