BRAINERD, MN– Brittany Force and the Monster Energy Top Fuel dragster saved their best for last at the 35th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals. In the final qualifying session Force blasted to the No. 2 qualifying position with a stellar 3.693 second run. Eventually the two-time 2016 winner settled into the No. 3 qualifier spot, her best start at Brainerd International Raceway.
“It always boosts your confidence when every time you go out there you improve on your performance. To end on the best run we made all weekend, a 3.693, that is an impressive run. Going into race day with a killer run like that just boosts everyone’s confidence. We go up against Terry Haddock who I have never raced before. I am excited for tomorrow and I will be ready,” said Force.
Force will face Terry Haddock in the first round tomorrow. The 2013 Rookie of the Year has never faced the journeyman racer in eliminations. Last year Force started the race as the No. 11 qualifier and finished race day as the runner-up to No. 1 qualifier Richie Crampton.
“I love this track. We went to the final last year. Just when I pull up to the track I have great memories from last year. That just gets you ready for the weekend,” added Force.
In Funny Car Saturday was a day of aggressive driving with no improvement in qualifying position for Courtney Force, John Force and Robert Hight. The trio of Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car racers all qualified and will face tough competitors in their respective first round match-ups.
Courtney Force and the Traxxas Chevrolet Camaro SS bounced back from a serious accident in Seattle to qualify No. 6 at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals. On the strength of her run from Friday, a 3.892 second pass, Force was able to hold onto a position in the top half of the field. Today in the third qualifying session Force was ready to make her run with a quick rain shower forced her team to return to the pits. When the Traxxas Funny Car made its first run of the day the 2012 Rookie of the Year experienced severe tire shake and had to abort her run.
“The fact that it rained and we had a lot of downtime actually was not that bad. The NHRA Safety Safari and track crew did an amazing job getting the track back in shape. The fans didn’t have to wait around that long and we were back on the track pretty quickly. You saw national records out there today. The rain was a little bit of a delay but we still had an amazing race track. I think we will have more great conditions tomorrow with cool weather,” said Force, who is No. 2 in the Funny Car points.
In the final qualifying session under dark skies Force once again launched hard but the Goodyear slicks on her 10,000 hp Traxxas Camaro SS Funny car lost traction and she was unable to improve her position. Force will face Brian Stewart in the first round and the pair have never raced on Sunday.
“I think we were definitely pushing this Traxxas Chevy to the limit today. We were trying to make a great pass because the conditions were so strong. Unfortunately we had some severe tire shake on both runs. We pushed it hard but luckily we made two good passes yesterday that locked us into the No. 6 spot,” said Force. “We’ll be racing Brian Stewart in the first round. It will be a tough race and when you look over in that other lane and see Tim Wilkerson’s son Danas the crew chief, you know he is a lot like his dad. It will be a tough race for sure. I am just excited to be back out here in my Traxxas Funny Car in a brand new blue paint scheme.”
John Force was looking to move up in the qualifying order as well but his Blue DEF PEAK Antifreeze logoed Camaro SS Funny Car suffered through some of the same issues as his teammate and daughter. A 3.915 second pass on Friday held up to keep Force in the top half of the field and set up a head to head race with veteran Tim Wilkerson in the first round tomorrow. On both of Force’s runs today he overpowered the track but the team learned valuable information to put together a race day tune-up.
“I get excited to see that Monster Energy dragster make a great run like that on Saturday night. The conditions here were really good. We struggled a little but the brain trust will get together and I know all the crew chiefs will talk. We made good runs yesterday and today we just missed on a couple runs. I have a lot of history at this track,” said Force. “The fans have been great. We were over at Lucas Oil today signing and I had a great time. All my sponsors like PEAK and Blue DEF are pulling for me and I’ll be ready for Wilkerson in the first round. He will be tough just like me.”
Force has raced in fifteen final rounds at Brained International Raceway and has eight wins to his credit. The winningest driver in NHRA history will be looking to add to his 75 round wins at the track location in the land of 10,000 lakes.
The Auto Club Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car and Robert Hight didn’t improve from their Friday efforts. In both sessions today Hight’s Mike Neff tuned Funny Car made strides towards improved times but tire shake derailed his efforts. The defending event winner is undeterred as he rolls into the first round of eliminations. For the second week in a row Hight will be the No. 9 qualifier and will face Chad Head in the first round. Two weeks ago Hight got the win over the second generation driver in Seattle.
“We’ll be ready for tomorrow. Today was tough to just get a handle on the track. It was really good and the key is to be aggressive. I know Mike Neff will have a great tune up for this Auto Club Camaro. I won here last year and I have a lot of confidence going into race day,” concluded Hight.
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NHRA ON TV
Aug. 20, FS1 will televise two hours of qualifying coverage at 10 pm (ET).
Aug. 21, FS1 will televise three hours of live finals coverage starting at 2 pm (ET).
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JOHN FORCE, 67, BlueDEF/PEAK Antifreeze 2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS
Final Qualifying: 7th at 3.915, 328.06 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: 0
First round opponent (W-L): Tim Wilkerson (35-17)
ROBERT HIGHT, 47, Auto Club 2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS
Final Qualifying: 9th at 3.933, 318.99 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: 0
First round opponent (W-L): Chad Head (8-3)
COURTNEY FORCE, 28, Traxxas 2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS
Final Qualifying: 6th at 3.892, 317.34 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: 0
First round opponent (W-L): Brian Stewart (0-0)
BRITTANY FORCE, 30, Monster Energy Top Fuel Dragster
Final Qualifying: 3rd at 3.693, 323.97 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: +1 (3rd quickest of Q4)
First round opponent (W-L): Terry Haddock (0-0)