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Originally published August 2, 2014 at 7:29 PM | Page modified August 2, 2014 at 9:49 PM

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John Force remains on top of his game, leads Funny Car qualifying | NHRA Northwest Nationals

After briefly seeing his daughter Courtney take over the top spot, Force earned the top speed at 308.07 mph. Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel) and Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) kept their qualifying leads.


Special to The Seattle Times

NHRA Northwest Nationals

What: 27th annual O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Northwest Nationals. This is the 16th of 24 events in the NHRA Mellow Yellow Drag Racing Series.

Where: Pacific Raceways is in Kent, 10 miles east of interstate 5 on Highway 18.

Sunday: Final eliminations begin at 11 a.m.

TV: ESPN2 will televise three hours of the eliminations.

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KENT — There’s something super human about ageless wonder John Force.

Maybe it’s his work with a sports psychologist to eliminate all fear, or the unique goggles he wears to help him react quicker to the starting light, or the draconian doctor-designed workout regimen he endures every day.

No matter what it might be, Force, 65, is still on top of his game and getting better from the pinnacle of the sport of drag racing.

Force, a 16-time world champion, will be the No. 1 Funny Car qualifier for a record 150th time in his career at Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts Northwest Nationals elimination finals that begin at 11 a.m. at Pacific Raceways

After his daughter, Courtney Force, ran 306.33 mph Saturday to take over the top qualifying spot, John Force followed with a run of 308.07 mph, just off his track record of 308.85 set in 2011, in the last run of the day.

“I told (crew chief) Jimmy (Prock) to turn it up,” John Force said. “She whipped me last week (in the final at Sonoma) and I wanted to whip her.”

Courtney Force knew it was too early to celebrate after her dramatic run. “I knew he was either going to smoke the tires trying too hard or it was going to fly,” she said. “Maybe we can meet in the final again.”

Tony Schumacher, who has won here four times, is the fastest Top Fuel qualifier for the 74th time in his career after a run of 320.20 mph.

A seven-time world champion, Schumacher will race against Jenna Haddock in the first round. Haddock has won one round in her career, but that came when she upset Schumacher two weeks ago in Denver.

“You can’t start thinking let’s back it down,” Schumacher said. “It doesn’t matter who we’re racing. We need to forget two weeks ago in Denver, none of that matters. If you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much space. I wouldn’t want to race me tomorrow. We got the right car at the right time of the season.”

Allen Johnson, the 2006 champion here, is the top qualifier in Pro Stock for the fourth time this season and the 35th time in his career. If he can win Sunday, he can grab the points lead from Erica Enders-Stevens by six points.

Johnson said he received an email from Enders-Stevens, who is not here, wishing him good luck. “I know she didn’t mean it,” he said.

The 2012 world champion, Johnson had the fastest car in each of the four qualifying sessions.



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