VIDEO: John Force, J.R. Todd get together during NHRA qualifying at Pomona

Funny car champions John Force and J.R. Todd were involved in a two-car accident in the shutdown area in the second qualifying session at the NHRA Winternationals at Pomona Saturday.

The sixteen-time NHRA Funny Car champion’s Chevy got loose early in the run then at the finish line swapped lanes behind Todd’s Toyota that had just ran a 3.935-second pass. Force wedged 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 wall in his original lane, his parachute dragging Todd’s Toyota along for the ride.

Force’s car ended back in the left lane against the wall 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.”

Todd wasn’t upset at Force so much as he was at damaging a brand-new car.

“I crossed the finish line, get the ‘chutes out like I normally do, coming up on the speed cone,” Todd said. “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.”

Greg Engle