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Sunday, September 23, 2007
Llewellyn races to first NHRA national event victory

Associated Press

ENNIS, Texas -- Peggy Llewellyn raced to her first NHRA national event victory Sunday, topping the Pro Stock Motorcycle field at Texas Motorplex in the competition marred by a wreck that seriously injured Funny Car star John Force.

The 58-year-old Force was alert and conscious Sunday after sustaining serious injuries in a wreck with Kenny Bernstein during the O'Reilly NHRA Fall Nationals.

Team spokesman Elon Werner said Force broke his left ankle and his left wrist and suffered a severe abrasion to his right knee. Force, a 14-time champion, was airlifted to Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, where Werner said doctors planned surgery Sunday night to clean up the abrasions and possibly set the broken bones.

The wreck occurred just after the two cars crossed the finish line in the second round of eliminations.

Llewellyn, based in San Antonio, shared a somber winner's circle with new NHRA POWERade Series points leaders Larry Dixon and Tony Pedregon, as well as Pro Stock star Dave Connolly, who collected his fourth trophy in a row.

Llewellyn needed to win her first NHRA national event to make it into the Countdown to One field and she delivered with a huge holeshot victory over points leader Andrew Hines. Hitting the Christmas Tree with a 0.010 reaction time in front of Hines' 0.045-second start, Llewellyn managed to hold off a hard-charging Hines to take the win with a 7.020-second run at 190.00 mph to Hines' quicker but losing 7.007 at 191.16 mph.

Matt Smith and Chip Ellis will also run for the title in the Pro Stock Motorcycle class, which finished the second phase of its playoffs this weekend.

Dixon used his third victory of the season to take the Top Fuel lead in the Countdown to Four, driving to the 41st win of his career in 4.629 seconds at 310.91 mph.

Bob Vandergriff extended his record streak of futility in final rounds to 0-for 11, but he did move within 21 points of the top four. The Countdown to Four field now shows Dixon with 2,297 points, Rod Fuller with 2,252 points, Tony Schumacher with 2.247 points, and Brandon Bernstein with 2,221 points.

The battle of the Pedregon brothers went to younger brother Tony as Cruz had to give up his pass just before halftrack when his Chevrolet Impala SS started smoking its tires. Tony's Chevy neared the centerline at the top end of the track, which forced him to lift off the gas to avoid crossing the line and getting disqualified. His 5.010 at 254.86 mph was definitely beatable, but Cruz was already in spectator mode, eventually drifting across the stripe in 6.882 at 131.31 mph.

Tony's big weekend lifted him from out of the top four and into the points lead with one race remaining before the Countdown to One begins.

Connolly has won four Pro Stock races in a row, the last three over three-time series champion Greg Anderson, to pad his lead in the Countdown to Four standings. This one was easy as Anderson began leaking oil after his burnout and was forced to shut off and surrender the race. Nevertheless, Connolly and Anderson both clinched berths in the Countdown to One this weekend.