BAYTOWN, TX – Courtney Force wrapped up Houston qualifying at the NHRA SpringNationals in the No. 3 position and drew a first round match-up against Bob Bode for race day. Her best qualifying pass was 3.915 ET at 320.66 mph in Q2 on Friday night when track and weather conditions were in their prime. The Traxxas Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car driver picked up one bonus point for making the third-quickest pass of Q2 to nab the No. 3 starting spot.
“Our Traxxas team showed pretty good performance out here in Houston, qualifying in the No. 3 spot and even made a great run in the heat of the day. A lot of cars were struggling to get down on a 130 degree track out there. I think it’s the hottest track we’ve had all year,” said Force.
Force has qualified in the top four at the last five races. She has qualified in the top half of the field at every event so far this season and gone into race day with lane choice. She has only raced Bob Bode once in previous events; two races ago at the NHRA DENSO Spark Plugs Nationals at Las Vegas. She is 1-0 to the veteran driver.
“I’m just excited to run a 4.05 in the heat. The 3.98 put us in the No. 3 spot. I’m feeling good going into tomorrow knowing that we have some data from a good pass today and hopefully we can use that to our advantage. It’s going to be hot tomorrow if the rain will hold off and we’re hoping for a long race day for the Chevy Camaro team,” said Force.
Right behind the youngest Force sits two-time SpringNationals winner Robert Hight driving the AAA Texas Chevrolet Camaro. Last week Hight suffered a significant explosion and after examining the race car at the shop the team built a new race car for this weekend and have been shaking it down with every run. The final qualifying run of the event was third quickest of the session but Hight knows there is more on the horizon for his team.
“(Crew chief Mike) Neff told me that was a have to go down the race track kind of run. We ran 3.98 in the first round of Vegas on a track that was this hot. We can do that here. This is a brand new race car this weekend. After we had the explosion last weekend we took it back to the shop and realized the car was bent severely. We put a brand new car together with all new control systems and it has taken us four runs to get a handle on it. I think we will be just fine first round,” said a confident Hight.
As the No. 5 qualifier on the strength of Friday’s 3.953 second run at 324.98 mph which was also the second run for the new race car, Hight will race Jack Beckman in the first round. Hight is 1-1 to Beckman at Houston. In 2014 he beat him in the final round and in 2009 he lost in the first round.
John Force and the PEAK/Advance Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro Funny Car will give up lane choice to Tommy Johnson Jr in the first round. Force’s quickest run of 4.005 seconds will match up with Johnson Jr’s best run of 3.969 seconds. Today Force in the final session Force and Johnson were matched up when Force posted a solid 4.05 in front of Johnson Jr’s 4.18 second run.
“Up on the starting line I told them I am going to drag my “stuff” up there and the old man is coming here to win. We are in the heat today and it is a whole new ball game. If it stays that way tomorrow and I haven’t been fast like some of these other guys my old heap has been pretty consistent. It’s run 4.09 and 4.05 and I can win a drag race like that. I know this deal here in Houston. Bring them on. It will be fun,” exclaimed and excited Force at the top end.
So far this season Force has not lost in the first round and at the SpringNationals he only has five first round losses in 27 previous appearances. The entire JFR organization skipped the 2007 national event following the untimely death of teammate Eric Medlen.
The hottest Top Fuel driver in the Mello Yello Drag Racing Series will face a brand new opponent in the first round and will be trying to hold onto her No. 1 position in the point standings. Brittany Force and the Monster Energy Top Fuel team will head into race day as the No. 7 qualifier and will race Kebin Kinsley.
Force picked up three qualifying bonus points on Friday during the first session and over the next three sessions she was consistent yet aggressive. On her final run she posted a solid 3.90 second run and moves into race day with confidence.
“I am going into race day with a clear mind. I have a great team behind me like always. We struggled a little bit in qualifying but I am not going to let that get to me. I am going to take it one round at a time tomorrow. We have a good match-up in the first round and we’ll see where we end up,” said Force, the only two-time Top Fuel winner this season.
“It is tricky out here with the heat and the rain. A lot of people are struggling to get down the track so it feels good to end qualifying on a good note. We made a decent run in Q4 and we’ll take that positive into race day tomorrow.”
This is Force’s best qualifying position at the SpringNationals and in the past two year the fourth year pro has raced to a quarterfinal finish each year.
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Sunday, May 1 Finals 5:00 PM - 8:00 PM ET/2:00 PM - 5:00 PM PT (FS1)
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JOHN FORCE, 66, PEAK/Advance Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro SS
Final Qualifying: 10th at 4.005 seconds, 322.11 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: 0
First Round Opponent (W-L): Tommy Johnson Jr (30-8)
ROBERT HIGHT, 46, AAA Texas Chevrolet Camaro SS
Final Qualifying: 5th at 3.953 seconds, 324.98 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: +1 (3rd quickest of Q4)
First Round Opponent (W-L): Jack Beckman (18-15)
COURTNEY FORCE, 27, Traxxas Chevrolet Camaro SS
Final Qualifying: 3rd at 3.915 seconds, 320.66 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: +1 (3rd quickest of Q2)
First Round Opponent (W-L): Bob Bode (1-0)
BRITTANY FORCE, 29, Monster Energy Top Fuel Dragster
Final Qualifying: 7th at 3.771 seconds, 319.90 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: +3 (Quickest of Q1)
First Round Opponent (W-L): Kebin Kinsley (0-0)