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Kalitta, Hight win at NHRA Gatornationals

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 16, 2014 at 5:24 pm •  Published: March 16, 2014

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — John Force and Antron Brown were looking to make history Sunday at the NHRA Gatornationals.

Those plans went up in smoke — literally.

Force and Brown spun their tires in the finals, helping Robert Hight and Doug Kalitta record easy victories in the top two divisions.

Hight beat his boss, 16-time champion Force, in the Funny Car division. Kalitta topped 2012 series champion Brown in Top Fuel.

"I'm racing the all-time leader, John Force, 16-time champ, my boss, the guy that gave me the opportunity to do this," Hight said. "It's tough to race him. ... It's also a lot fun when you actually race in the final and it's your teammate and you guys can just go up there and have some fun."

The 64-year-old Force was trying to become the fifth driver in Funny Car history to win as the No. 16 qualifier. He opened the day by upsetting top qualifier Cruz Pedregon, then knocked off Del Worsham and daughter Cortney Force to reach his second final in three events this year. That set up an all-Force final, with the team owner facing off against team president Hight, who is married to one of Force's four daughters, Ashley.

And Hight didn't even think about letting his boss win, not even with Force repeatedly talking about the need to win to "chase corporate America" as he's losing two key sponsors after this season.

Force was the first to congratulate Hight after the race.

"He told me he was trying to get me," Hight said. "He peddled his car a couple of times and smoked the tires. Luckily we got lane choice over him in the final, and I think that may have been the difference. We put those guys over there on the right, where they hadn't made a run all day."

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