DENVER, CO – Courtney Force set the elapsed time track record in the second qualifying session tonight at Bandimere Speedway, the first event on the historic NHRA Western Swing. Her 3.917 second pass at 318.39 mph was low of the session, low of the day and at the time only the second ever three-second run at the Mile High Nationals.
“We were definitely hoping to run in the 3.0s after we saw my dad (John Force) lay down a 3.95 in Q1. It was definitely worth the wait, I’ll say that,” said Force who was abruptly shut off on the starting line at the beginning of Q1 due to a storm overhead and rain beginning to fall on the race track.
“Obviously the conditions are excellent out here, but it’s a totally different set up this weekend so I wasn’t sure what to expect being at high altitude in the thin air. Everything changes; the crew chiefs, the car, the motor, everything.”
“I was bumping it in and I think I flickered the bulb for a second on that run. I was excited and ready to go. I’m excited to have the new paint scheme this weekend. We’re running that Traxxas blue on the car for the Western Swing in the new Camaro body.”
This would be Force’s 10th career No. 1 qualifier since her Funny Car debut in 2012 if it holds up, and would be her first at Bandimere Speedway. Denver is the site of Force’s second ever career runner-up finish. She qualified in the No. 7 position in 2012 and beat Tim Wilkerson, Robert Hight and Ron Capps before losing to Jack Beckman in the final round on race day.
“I’m really excited and proud of my team. Proud of my guys for giving me a fast race car and it’s exciting to even have such a huge crowd here this late at night. It’s cool for all of the fans to be able to see a track record like that of a 3.91. It’s just exciting. I think tonight was a great show for the fans and it’s awesome that a ton of them stuck around for both sessions,” added Force.
“I hope we can hold onto it, but there are a lot of guys gunning for it and obviously my dad was able to run a 3.0 on both runs so I’m sure they’ll improve and I’m sure plenty of other teams will as well. I think it would be awesome (to run the first 3.8) I don’t know if we can do it tomorrow, but we’ll certainly try. We’ve got nothing to lose at this point so I think it would be awesome.”
John Force and the Realtree PEAK Antifreeze and Coolant Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car may not have ended the day as the provisional No. 1 Funny Car but the six-time Bandimere Speedway winner established himself as the driver to beat this weekend.
Force made the first Funny Car three second run in the history of Bandimere Speedway during the opening session, a blistering 3.959 second run, that brought the capacity crowd to their feet. It was another historic run for the 16-time Funny Car champion considering he was also the first driver to break the 300 mph barrier at Bandimere Speedway in 1998.
“I was the first to run 300 mph even before the Top Fuel dragsters. We built a real good supercharger and we have a really good car. The new Chevrolet Camaro has good aero. We are trying a few things like the new headers and we are carrying weight out front to try and make it steer. I am excited about this run,” said Force. “These great numbers started here last year. We crashed the new Chevy company car in Topeka on the second run. We went back and fixed it then we went testing last week after Chicago. I think we are on the right track with this Camaro. I have a young team. We are having a lot of fun.”
In the second session Force saw his daughter Courtney race to the top spot. On his last run of the day he improved and made another three second pass, 3.935 seconds at 320.42 mph, but had to settle for the provisional No. 2 spot. He did earn five qualifying bonus points for his efforts today.
“We kind of out of the box hit the balance on the car. The balance is very critical. We never had the front end up. It made weight at the scales. It is safe. It makes us feel good. We have really struggled hard. I know how to motivate but it beats the morale up of these young kids. They all feel like they are letting me down. I tell them I am part of the problem. I got the new Camaro and it was an adjustment to see out of it. It is panoramic now,” added Force.
The Monster Energy Top Fuel dragster and Brittany Force continued their strong qualifying efforts wrapping up Friday’s two qualifying runs as the provisional No. 4 qualifier. In the first session Force was the second quickest dragster behind technical alliance teammate Steve Torrence. Force’s elapsed time of 3.888 seconds earned her two qualifying bonus points.
In the final session Force improved her elapsed time but slipped back a couple spots. The Monster Energy Top Fuel dragster lit up the scoreboard with a time of 3.834 seconds at 313 mph.
“The delay is tough but we are all out here together. You just want to jump in the car and go. It is a waiting game and you don’t even know if you are going to get any runs at all. We got both runs in which was good. We needed that and it is tricky out here. We finished up No. 4 and we’ll start again tomorrow to get ready for race day,” said Brittany Force.
The Auto Club Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car made the fourth quickest run when qualifying concluded at the Mile High NHRA Nationals. In the first session Robert Hight powered down the track with the third quickest run of the session a solid 4.022 second run at 306.53 mph. In the second session paired up with team leader John Force as one of the last two Funny Cars his Chevrolet Camaro launched hard but drove into tire smoke and the three-time winner at Bandimere Speedway was forced to lift off the throttle.
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NHRA ON TV
Friday, July 22, FS1 will televise one hour of qualifying coverage at 8 p.m. (ET).
Saturday, July 23, FS1 will televise one hour of qualifying coverage at 11 p.m. (ET).
Sunday, July 24, FOX will televise three hours of live finals coverage at 3 p.m. (ET).
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JOHN FORCE, 67, Realtree/PEAK Antifreeze & Coolant 2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS
Qualifying: 2nd at 3.935, 320.42 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: +5 (quickest of Q1 and 2nd quickest of Q2)
ROBERT HIGHT, 46, Auto Club 2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS
Qualifying: 4th at 4.022, 306.53 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: +1 (3rd quickest of Q1)
COURTNEY FORCE, 28, Traxxas 2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS
Qualifying: 1st at 3.917, 318.39 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: +3 (quickest of Q2)
BRITTANY FORCE, 30, Monster Energy Top Fuel Dragster
Qualifying: 4th at 3.834, 313 mph
Bonus Qualifying Points: +2 (2nd quickest of Q1)
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Saturday, July 23
3rd round qualifying 4:00 PM
4th round qualifying 6:30 PM
Sunday, July 24
Final Eliminations 11 AM