READING, PA --- The Monster Energy Top Fuel dragster and Brittany Force raced to another semi-final finish and moved up to the No. 3 position in the Mello Yello point standings this weekend. This was Force’s fifth semi-final finish to go along with two runner-up finishes and the third year pro is aggressively trying to chase down the points leaders with three Countdown races left in 2015.
This weekend at the 31st running of the NHRA Keystone Nationals Force was the No. 1 qualifier with a career best elapsed time of 3.725 seconds and in the opening round against No. 14 qualifier Dave Connolly Force stepped up even more with a blistering and session best 3.707 second run at 328.46 mph.
“We ran really well considering the circumstances we were dealt. We only got one out of four qualifying runs but we were able to make a career best run. This morning during the first round we ran even quicker. That is what we want to do and it is pretty exciting to be on this Monster Energy team,” said Force. “A performance like this motivates the whole team and lets us know we can compete with the championship caliber teams. We were running right there with them and we are still looking for that first win. We are not going to give up until we get that win.”
With three races left in 2015 and the possibility of forcing her way into the Mello Yello championship conversation Force is just trying to stay focused on the task at hand. As the lone John Force Racing Top Fuel dragster entry she is at a decided disadvantage against some of the multi-car Top Fuel dragster teams.
“Right now I am going to take this one race at a time. I am not thinking about how many races are left and I know where I am in the points but I am not going to make that my focus. I am focused on going into Dallas and taking it one step at a time. I am thinking about that first qualifying pass and then I will think about the next qualifying pass. I want to do the best job that I can on my next run and not get ahead of myself. I am going to take each run as it comes and then go to the next race,” said Brittany Force.
After ousting Connolly the Monster Energy Top Fuel dragster earned a second round bye and advanced straight to the semi-finals picking up an additional 20 points.
In the second round on her single Force took off down the left lane and just before the finish line Force lifted as the Monster Energy Top Fuel dragster drifted a little to the left. She faced Tony Schumacher in the semi-finals. Last year Force lost to Schumacher in the final round and for her career Force was 3-5 against Schumacher but this year they have split in their four appearances together. Force gave up lane choice to Schumacher 3.846 to 3.732 heading into the semis.
At the hit of the throttle Force’s day was over as tire smoke billowed from her Goodyear slicks as Schumacher took the win light. Force drove across the finish line with a less than stellar 9.913 second elapsed time.
Robert Hight took a huge starting line advantage in the first round against John Hale but his Auto Club Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car overpowered the track. Hight pedaled the race car but in an effort to regain momentum the rear end swung around and crossed the center line causing an immediate disqualification.
John Force and the Peak Antifreeze Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car ran into the same issue in their first round match-up with Chad Head. Force was 3-0 versus the second generation Funny Car driver but today Head picked up his first round win against the winningest driver in NHRA history, 5.328 to 7.689 seconds. Force tried to wrestle his Funny Car back under control but Head was pulling away as he also pedaled his Funny Car down the right lane.
“We are going to focus on winning the next three races. Our game plan hasn’t changed. This was a tough weekend for a lot of teams,” said Force, who will leave Reading No. 6 in the Funny Car point standings. “The Monster Energy dragster was No. 1 qualifier and ran career best numbers for Brittany. The Auto Club Chevy was No. 1 and set the track record on Saturday but we didn’t go rounds on Sunday. That is the name of the game and we will work on that. The track was tricky but we have a good handle on our tune ups and I have a lot of confidence in all my crew chiefs and drivers.”
Courtney Force was not able to play the spoiler role in the 2015 Countdown to the Championship today when she lost a tough first round match-up to Cruz Pedregon. This is the tenth time the pair has met in eliminations, but only the second time this season. This is the fifth time they have met in the opening round, but their first time racing in eliminations at Maple Grove Raceway. Force has won three of their last five match-ups, but unfortunately today Pedregon took the round win.
“This has been a trying year for our Traxxas Chevrolet Funny Car team, but I have faith in my crew and my crew chiefs. We’re all in this together and we know what we’re capable of. It’s just a tough year,” said the winningest female in Funny Car history. “We still have a few races left this season to go after a win so we’re not giving up on that. We’re excited for Dallas in a couple of weeks. That’s the home track for Traxxas, The Fastest Name in Radio Control so we’re pretty anxious to get there.”
Since her Funny Car debut in 2012, Force has raced to three strong Top Ten finishes. She ended her rookie season in the No. 5 position, her sophomore season in the No. 7 spot and last year finished No. 4, her best season effort yet. She has started from the front of the Funny Car field nine times and has raced her way to fourteen final rounds with her Traxxas team. Of those fourteen finals, she emerged victorious seven times, making her the winningest female Funny Car driver in history. She also holds the record for most Funny Car wins in a season by a female with four.
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MELLO YELLO CHAMPIONSHIP POINT STANDINGS
FUNNY CAR – 1. Del Worsham, 2361; 2. Jack Beckman, 2345; 3. Matt Hagan, 2271; 4. Tommy Johnson Jr, 2263; 5. Ron Capps, 2256; 6. John Force, Peak Antifreeze Chevrolet Camaro SS, 2211; 7. Cruz Pedregon, 2169; 8. Tim Wilkerson, 2162; 9. Alexis DeJoria, 2154; 10. Robert Hight, Auto Club Chevrolet Camaro SS, 2140; 11. Courtney Force, Traxxas Chevrolet Camaro SS, 978
TOP FUEL – 1. Antron Brown, 2432; 2. Tony Schumacher, 2338; 3. Brittany Force, Monster Energy dragster, 2238; 4. Larry Dixon, 2234; 5. Richie Crampton, 2187; 6. JR Todd, 2181; 7. Shawn Langdon, 2177; 8. Doug Kalitta, 2173; 9. Steve Torrence, 2160; 10. Dave Connolly, 2158
PRO STOCK – 1. Erica Enders, 2385; 2. Greg Anderson, 2313; 3. Chris McGaha, 2281; 4. Larry Morgan, 2240; 5. Allen Johnson, 2227; 6. Drew Skillman, 2212; 7. Vincent Nobile, 2187; 8. Jason Line, 2179; 9. Shane Gray, 2149; 10. Jonathan Gray, 2119
PRO STOCK MOTORCYCLE - 1. Andrew Hines, 2378; 2. Eddie Krawiec, 2289; 3. Hector Arana Jr, 2277; 4. Jerry Savoie, 2259; 5. Matt Smith, 2244; 6. Chip Ellis, 2223; 7. Karen Stoffer, 2199; 8. Hector Arana, 2167; 9. Jim Underdahl, 2126; 10. Scotty Pollacheck, 2076
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JOHN FORCE, 66, Peak Antifreeze Chevrolet Camaro SS
Qualifying: 8th at 9.594 seconds, 71.07 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: 0
Race results: Lost to Chad Head.
ROBERT HIGHT, 45, Auto Club Chevrolet Camaro SS
Qualifying: 1st at 3.922 seconds, 329.34 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: +3 (Quickest of Q1)
Race results: Lost to John Hale.
COURTNEY FORCE, 27, Traxxas Chevrolet Camaro SS
Qualifying: 10th at 9.874 seconds, 66.36 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: 0
Race results: Lost to Cruz Pedregon.
BRITTANY FORCE, 29, Monster Energy Top Fuel Dragster
Qualifying: 1st at 3.725 seconds, 331.53 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: +3 (Quickest of Q1)
Race results: Beat Dave Connolly, bye; Lost to Tony Schumacher.