By Briar Starr, NHRA Staff Writer
For the first time since 2017, Brittany Force became a two-time Top Fuel champion in her Monster Energy dragster with a solid but whacky day in Pomona.
Coming into the 2022 season, Force knew she needed to beat four-time champion Steve Torrence who had been dominant in recent years of the class. Additionally, she also tougher opponents this year as well with the return of Tony Schumacher along with the similar likes of Antron Brown and Team Scrappers Mike Salinas.
Force had been fast all year long by breaking speed records in either qualifying or on race day. Speaking of which, Force qualified No. 1 for the 10th time this season with a pass of 3.641 following four rounds of qualifying. Though just like in Funny Car, there were some outside shots like Justin Ashley, Brown, Torrence, and Salinas.
Ashley originally had the points lead heading into Vegas, but lost in the first round to Clay Millican while Force did win that event, which saw her retake the point lead.
Both Ashley, Torrence, and Salinas would have had to hope that Force would lose the first round in order to have a chance at the championship.
However, just as Top Fuel has been all year, the first round was a wild one. Force met Steven Chrisman in round one and did her job with a win-light of 3.701 at 334.90 mph to advance. That win, it made tougher for her other championship competitors to get the job done.
There was an upset win in round one. Krista Baldwin eliminated one of those championship contenders, as she won against Salinas after Salinas smoked the tires in his Scrappers Racing team. That ended Salinas’s championship hopes.
Next up was another upset. This time Ron August eliminated Steve Torrence after Torrence was up in smoke while leaving the starting line. His championship hopes were done as well.
That left Justin Ashley and Antron Brown for the final pair. The whacky round continued as Ashley slowed to a 4.070, while Brown won with a 3.704 at 333.82 mph. Despite the win for Brown, the championship was a lock for Force after her closest competitor Ashley was done in round one.
“I want people to remember this day here in Pomona with this Monster Energy/Flav-R-Pac team — David Grubnic, Mac Savage, every single one of my guys,” said Force, who also joined three-time champion Shirley Muldowney as the only female multiple titleholders in Top Fuel. “We have been working all season long, we never gave up, and then we struggled in the Countdown and we recovered when we needed to in Vegas and win it here today in Pomona.
“I have to thank every single one of my guys and our sponsors. We wouldn’t be here without them today, and I’m just so proud of everybody. It just seems surreal right now. I can’t believe it ended up this way.”
The Monster Energy driver went on to get victories over Clay Millican in E2 before falling to her teammate Austin Prock in E3. Her teammate Prock went on to win the race over Brown in the finals making it a Force double-up at Pomona.
Final Top Fuel Championship Points
- Brittany Force, 2,596 points
- Antron Brown, -62
- Austin Prock, -82
- Justin Ashley, -86
- Mike Salinas, -135
- Steve Torrence, -153
- Josh Hart, -177
- Clay Millican, -248
- Shawn Langdon, -257
- Doug Kalitta, -261
Top Fuel Pomona Results
- Austin Prock
- Antron Brown
- Brittany Force
- Josh Hart
- Leah Pruett
- Clay Millican
- Ron August
- Krista Baldwin
- Justin Ashley
- Doug Kalitta
- Steve Torrence
- Steven Chrisman
- Alex Laughlin
- Tony Schumacher
- Shawn Langdon
- Mike Salinas