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John Force alert, undergoing evaluation after fiery crash

Record-setting NHRA drag racer John Force is undergoing evaluation in ICU after a fiery crash Sunday at Virginia Motorsports Park.

Force, the most prolific winner in drag racing, suffered a catastrophic engine failure after crossing the finish line at 302.62 miles per hour in the first round of Funny Car elimination. His Funny Car careened across the track and crashed into the concrete guardrail. It then crossed the track once again and hit the opposite guardrail.

John Force Racing issued a statement after the incident, saying in part that Force "was conscious and talking to NHRA Safety Safari personnel immediately following the crash. He was transported to a nearby Medical Center for further evaluation in the ICU."

"We're keeping our pal John Force in our thoughts and prayers. He's one tough cookie," fellow driver-owner Tony Stewart posted on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.

Force was in the midst of another winning season. He had scored two victories in the first eight events, including his record-setting 157th at New Hampshire. He was second in the standings behind teammate Austin Prock.

"This Wally is going straight to the hospital to Force," Prock said Sunday after defeating Bob Tasca III in the Funny Car finals.

Force was previously injured in a serious crash at Texas Motorplex in 2007. He sustained a compound fracture of his left ankle, a broken left wrist, a cut on his right knee, and multiple broken fingers. He missed the remainder of the season while recovering from the injuries.

In 2008, Force became instrumental in the development of multiple safety precautions. Eric Medlen and Scott Kalitta had both died in accidents at the track, and the goal was to prevent fatal incidents in the future.

The list of improvements includes a safety device that shuts down the fuel pump when the engine backfires and automatically deploys the parachute.