Courtney Force hopes to make splash as Countdown starts
CONCORD, N.C. (Sept. 12) – The regular season for the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series is over, and the annual Countdown to the Championship begins this week at zMAX Dragway. With it is the chance to begin anew, the opportunity to put the first 18 races in the past and focus on six races that will determine the champion of NHRA’s professional categories.
In Courtney Force’s case, perfect timing.
This weekend’s NHRA Carolina Nationals is the perfect time for Force and her Advance Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro SS team to earn their first win of 2017 and begin their assault on the title. Force begins the playoffs sixth in points, and will contest the rest of the season with a car she debuted in the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals earlier this month in Indianapolis.
“We’re focused on making the start of the Countdown to the Championship count,” Force said. “This race kicks it off, and we can start things all over in Charlotte. We’re ready to go after that championship. That’s the most important thing for us at this point. We’re excited to get the Advance Auto Parts team back to Charlotte.”
Force returns to the Charlotte-area track in search of her first victory. Despite only three elimination wins in five previous fall races, she holds the track record, set in qualifying in April during the annual Four-Wide Nationals, at 3.851 seconds. In total, she holds two No. 1s, also earning the top spot in the 2015 Four-Wide Nationals.
“Everyone always loves to race here, at zMAX Dragway,” Force said. “Bruton Smith built such an incredible race track. We have a great race car, and this is a track where we qualified No. 1 in April, so we’re hoping to come back here with the same performance, but this time, looking to go rounds.
“It’s also a home track for our sponsor, Advance Auto Parts, and we’re really hoping we can show them a great weekend, represent their brand well, and get them all the way to the winner’s circle.”
The NHRA Carolina Nationals begins with two rounds of qualifying Friday, at 3:30 and 6 p.m. Eastern (live television coverage begins at 6 p.m. Eastern on Fox Sports 1). Two more qualifying sessions are scheduled for 1:30 and 4 p.m. Eastern on Saturday (television coverage at 2 a.m. Sunday on FS1). Final elimination rounds start at noon Eastern on Sunday (live coverage beginning at 2:30 p.m.).
• Courtney Force has competed in 11 races at Charlotte – including five in the NHRA Carolina Nationals fall race – and every race since 2012, her first race at the track.
• Force is still seeking her first career Funny Car victory at Charlotte. Her best result in the fall race was a semifinals appearance in 2013.
• Force is 4-11 in 15 elimination rounds at Charlotte, with three first-round elimination wins, and two first-round wins in the fall race.
• Force’s best qualifying effort at Charlotte is No. 1, which she has earned twice. She qualified No. 1 for the 2015 and 2017 Four-Wide Nationals.
• Force is currently sixth in Funny Car points standings.
• In 2017, Force has a 18-17 record in 35 elimination rounds and six No. 1 qualifiers, the most she has recorded in a single season.
• In her career, Force has eight victories, 149 elimination-round wins, and 16 No. 1 qualifiers. Her next round victory will be her 150th.
• Most recent NHRA victory – 2016 NHRA SpringNationals in Baytown, Texas
• Most recent No. 1 qualifying effort – 2017 Mile-High Nationals in Morrison, Colo.
• Best time/speed at Charlotte – 3.851 seconds (2017 #1 Q2); 323.27 mph (2017 #1 Q2)
• Best career time/speed – 3.815 seconds (2017 Topeka Q2); 338.68 mph (2017 Topeka E1)
• Force is attending several events this week with primary sponsor Advance Auto Parts in Raleigh, N.C.