Brittany Force confident she can break out of slump in Topeka
TOPEKA, Kan. (May 16) – All professional athletes go through slumps like Monster Energy Top Fuel dragster driver Brittany Force is facing.
The key to getting out of a slump is to keep working – and that’s just what Force and her team have done. The Menards NHRA Heartland Nationals this weekend at Heartland Park Topeka could be the breakthrough Force needs.
“I’m feeling good,” Force said after a successful test last week. “I’m positive that we have this bug out of our car. We’ve been struggling, and after Atlanta, my crew chiefs sat me down and said, ‘We figured out what the problem is. Now, it’s correcting it and getting better from here.’
“I was to come out and test and see if we could work the problem out. Four runs (in testing), and we went down the race track. I think we’ve got our old car back.”
Force’s team installed a new front half to her car after the race in Charlotte, but rain wiped out two qualifying sessions at the Atlanta race, and she fell in the first round there.
But crew chief Brian Husen and tuning consultant Alan Johnson knew in Atlanta that another issue with the clutch had been found, and that was confirmed with a solid test at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis last Wednesday.
“We knew we had to come out and do some testing,” Force said. “They knew it was a problem in the clutch, and they figured it out. They knew before we got out here (to test at Indy), and we fixed it. We made four runs right down the race track, so we’re excited and ready to get to the next one.”
And that’s Topeka, where Force has earned two No. 1 qualifiers – including matching No. 1s with her sister Courtney Force in Funny Car in 2014 – and has raced to the semifinals twice in her four races. Brittany Force’s career-best elapsed time of 3.676 seconds was set here in 2016 – and matched at Phoenix earlier this season.
“Topeka is a good race track for us,” Force said. “We’ve qualified No. 1 there, but we’ve never won the thing. Topeka would be an awesome first win to the season.”
Two qualifying sessions are slated for Friday (5 p.m. and 8 p.m. Eastern) and Saturday (3 and 6 p.m.), with final eliminations scheduled for 11 a.m. Sunday.
Fox Sports 1 will provide one hour of qualifying coverage on Friday (11 p.m. Eastern) and Saturday (3 p.m.) and three hours of live finals coverage starting at 3 p.m.
• Brittany Force has competed in the NHRA Heartland Nationals four times, and every year since 2013, her first race at the track.
• Force has advanced to the semifinals twice – 2014 and 2015.
• Force is 5-4 in elimination rounds at Heartland Park Topeka.
• Force has qualified No. 1 twice for the NHRA Heartland Nationals – 2014 and 2016. Her 2016 run was a track record.
• Force is 3-1 in first-round matchups in the NHRA Heartland Nationals.
• Force is currently seventh in Top Fuel points standings.
• In her career, Force has three victories, 93 round wins, and six No. 1 qualifying spots.
• Force’s most recent NHRA victory – 2016 NHRA Nationals in Brainerd, Minn.
• Force’s most recent No. 1 qualifying effort – 2016 NHRA Route 66 Nationals in Joliet, Ill.
• Force’s best time/speed at Topeka – 3.676 seconds (2016 Q2); 329.75 (2014 Q3)
• Force’s best time/speed of career – 3.676 seconds (twice – most recently 2017 Phoenix E1); 331.53 (2015 Reading Q1)