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John Force wins season-opening NHRA Winternationals with record-setting run

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In this photo provided by the NHRA, John Force races during qualifying position in Funny Car at the NHRA Winternationals drag races at Auto Club Raceway on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014, in Pomona, Calif. His time from Friday night stood up for the rest of qualifications. (AP Photo/NHRA, Jerry Foss)The Associated Press

John Force won the season-opening NHRA Winternationals with a record-setting run.

The 64-year-old Force beat Matt Hagan in the Funny Car final Sunday at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, powering his Ford Mustang to a record time of 3.965 seconds at 323.58 mph.

Force raced past Paul Lee, Tommy Johnson Jr. and Bob Tasca in the earlier rounds, won from the No. 1 qualifying position and also set the Funny Car speed record at 324.12 mph.

The defending series champion has a record 139 victories and unprecedented 16 season titles. He has 16 victories at his home track, seven in the Winternationals.

"It's a good race car," Force said. "Everything is going right here lately, I just don't get it. What a good time to flex your muscles. This is a critical year. I need to focus on my car. This old race car will do the running. I just need to stay in the gym and stay healthy."

Hagan lost traction and finished in 6.613 at 117.88.

Khalid alBalooshi won in Top Fuel, and Jason Line topped the Pro Stock field.

AlBalooshi beat top qualifier Doug Kalitta in the final round, finishing in 3.974 at 324.36. Kalittalost traction at mid-track and slowed to a 5.368 at 143.40.

Line outran V. Gaines in the final. Line powered his Chevy Camaro to a 6.526 at 212.06.