Atlanta will have new FC winner in 2019 after Force’s retirement

By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher 

Funny Cars will be roaring back to life this weekend in Commerce, Georgia. The Arby’s NHRA Southern Nationals will be taking place from Friday, May 3rd through Sunday, May 5th at Atlanta Dragway. 

There will be no repeat winner. Courtney Force, who was the 2018 winner, retired from drag racing in the off-season. 

Former Funny Car pilot Courtney Force on Sunday at the NHRA Southern Nationals
Courtney Force on Sunday at the NHRA Southern Nationals (Photo by Marc Gewertz/NHRA)

This was one of Force’s four wins on the season. Her final win of the career came at the Virginia NHRA Nationals on June 10th, 2018.

She defeated Matt Hagan in the 2018 final round. Force went 4.046 at 313.73 mph for the win. 

“The Hulk” went 4.148 at 291.13 mph in the losing effort. 

Hagan will be on the property this weekend. In addition, his Don Schumacher Racing teammates Tommy Johnson Jr., Jack Beckman, and Ron Capps will be there, as well. 

Reigning Funny Car pilot J.R. Todd will be competing, as well. His Kalitta Motorsports teammate, pilot Shawn Langdon — who just won his first Funny Car win at the NGK Spark Plugs NHRA Four-Wide Nationals after making the switch from Top Fuel — will also be on the property. 

John Force Racing dynamic duo in Robert Hight and living legend John Force will be competing. Hight has won three of the events thus far. 

Levi, Ray, and Shoup Inc. Funny Car pilot Tim Wilkerson will be competing at the property. Fellow full-time pilot Cruz Pedregon will be there, as he looks to win for the first-time since April 2018. 

Ford Motorcraft/Quick Lane Funny Car pilot Robert Tasca III will be present. In addition, fellow full-time pilot Jim Campbell in the Jim Dunn Racing Funny Car will be there. 

There will be 17 Funny Cars on the property. One will not make the show on Sunday after the scheduled four qualifying sessions. 

Besides the full-time drivers, Jeff Diehl will be there, who does nearly a full schedule. The part-timers include Blake Alexander, Dave Richards, Terry Haddock, and Paul Lee. 

This will be Lee’s debut of the season. The Straight-line Strategy Group driver will be making his first appearance since suffering a heart attack near the end of the 2016 season.

The living legend has more than double the nearest competitors in wins. He has seven wins, while three drivers have three wins each — Hight, Ed McCulloch, and Tony Pedregon. 

Force; however, hasn’t won since 2005 near Atlanta. Besides the 2005 win, he also has wins in 2000, 1999, 1995, 1994, 1993, and 1992.

Former Funny Car pilot Courtney Force after winning the Wally at the NHRA Southern Nationals
Courtney Force after winning the Wally at the NHRA Southern Nationals (Photo by Marc Gewertz/NHRA)

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