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Drag racing legend John Force invited USA TODAY Sports for a behind-the-scenes peek at life at home, away from the track. Force, a 16-time Funny Car champion driver, has three daughters that also are champion drag racers.
Robert Hanashiro, USA TODAY Network

POMONA, Calif. (AP) — Brittany Force escaped serious injury in a wall-banging crash Sunday in the season-opening Lucas Oil NHRA Winternationals.

NHRA said the defending Top Fuel season champion “was responsive, speaking with medical staff and was transported to the hospital for evaluation.”

John Force Racing said Brittany, the 31-year-old daughter of NHRA Funny Car great John Force, sustained no major internal injuries, but does have some bruising of the lungs and will remain hospitalized overnight as a precaution. The team said a CT scan was negative and an MRI showed subtle findings likely from previous injuries.

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Brittany Force was racing against Terry Haddock in the first round of eliminations when her 11,000-horsepower dragster veered right just off the start, shot to the left — crossing in front of Haddock — and slammed into the left wall. It spun with the tangled parachute catching the nose and hit backward into the right wall, flipping on its side. It ended up back on what was left of the wheels when it finally skidded to a stop. She was taken to the hospital about the same time her father went out with an engine explosion.

Force’s Simpson safety gear, including her Steilo Helmet, R3 head and neck restraint, fire suit, neck collar and belts, kept her conscious and securely strapped into the driver’s seat her team reported.

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“Want to thank Simpson safety for building helmets, equipment and everything to keep our drivers safe,” John Force said. “The car giving way when it hit the wall head on allowed it to take the impact and fold up (as it was designed to do). I want to thank Schumacher Racing for creating the canopy (over the driver’s seat). Want to personally thank Don Schumacher for his investment (in the canopy program). Very important. Thanks, Don. Safety Safari was right on top of it, as always, that’s why they’re the best in the business.”

Force won four times last season en route to her first Top Fuel title. She was taken to the hospital about the same time her father went out with an engine explosion.

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