Sixteen-time NHRA Funny Car champion John Force and fellow former world champion J.R. Todd were involved in a two-car accident in the shutdown area in the second qualifying session at the Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals.

Force’s Peak Chevy got loose early in the run, then, right at the finish line, swapped lanes behind Todd’s DHL Toyota,, which had just finished a 3.935-second pass. Force squeezed between Todd’s left side and the wall, but the car then cut in front of Todd’s left-front fender, hooking hard right and running head-first into the guardwall in his original lane, his parachute dragging Todd’s Toyota along for the side.

Force’s car ended back in the left lane against the guardwall, after trailing fire beneath the car. Both drivers got out of their cars under their own power.

“I was driving around some and I’m steering it; mentally you stay with it,” said Force. “I thought it was OK and then all sudden, boy, it struck the tires and it made a hard left on me … I saw J.R.’s ‘chutes. I thought I only got the header. I didn’t realize how hard I shoved him over into the wall. So I’m sorry about that.

“I’m OK. He’s OK. That’s most important first, and we’re both just trying to stay in the show. We got another hot rod. There’s a lot of things going on trying to keep these cars right, keep them straight. I don’t think I overdrove it. It was moving around — that’s kind of a normal deal when it blows the tires off — but I’ll have to look at the video. But I’m smarter than that. I’m just sorry I hit his car.”

Said Todd, “I crossed the finish line, get the ‘chutes out like I normally do, coming up on the speed cone. The ‘chutes hit and the next thing I know I feel someone on my left side, which is kind of odd when you’re in the left lane. Not much room between the car and the wall. Next thing I know, I’m getting hit and trying to get spun around. It’s really unfortunate. I’m more mad than anything. This is a brand new car from PBRC[precision Built Race Cars]. The thing is awesome to drive. Now we have to get the backup car and the old body and try to win this thing tomorrow for DHL, Toyota, and everybody that supports us. I can’t thank them enough.”

Tune into FS1 later tonight at 7 p.m. Eastern (following the NASCAR truck race) for complete coverage of final qualifying and this incident.


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