BRISTOL, Tenn. — official series release — NHRA photo —
Brittany Force took a major step in her budding Top Fuel career by registering her first two career victories during the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season.
Force, though, is hardly satisfied and has a special milestone in mind for this weekend’s 16th annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at picturesque Bristol Dragway.
Bristol is a very popular track for all the top stars on the NHRA circuit and that includes Force, who would like nothing more than to share the winner’s circle with her legendary father, 16-time Funny Car world champion John Force, on Father’s Day.
“Bristol is one of my favorite tracks on the circuit and I would love to bring home a win there,” said Force, who is currently fourth in the Top Fuel standings driving her 10,000-horsepower Monster Energy dragster. “It would be pretty awesome to double-up on Father’s Day and end up in the winner’s circle with the Monster Energy team and the Peak team with my dad.”
The race at Bristol comes at an important time for Force, who is trying to build momentum as the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship nears.
Working with legendary tuner Alan Johnson and crew chief Brian Husen, Force put together an incredible start to her fourth Top Fuel season, breaking through for the first time at Florida’s NHRA Gatornationals. She did it again two races later, winning in Charlotte to maintain the points lead. Force held the top spot for one more race before Doug Kalitta’s three-race winning streak propelled him to the front.
Since her last win, Force has been battling with consistency but she felt things got back on track last weekend in Englishtown, as she advanced to the semifinals for the first time since Charlotte before falling to eventual winner Steve Torrence.
“It definitely feels good to be going rounds,” Force said. “It was a tough weekend for us (in Englishtown). We struggled a little bit in qualifying. As a driver, I was really struggling on the tree. I just couldn’t seem to find it so it felt good on that third round to finally have a decent tree. We didn’t get the win, but it feels good to leave on that note and overcome the struggle I was having this weekend.”
That gives Force plenty to build on heading into Bristol, which marks the third event in a rigorous string of four consecutive race weekends. After a first-round loss in Epping to kick off this stretch, Force was happy to be headed in the right direction again. But with a talented group around her, Force, named the NHRA’s top rookie in 2013, knew the struggles wouldn’t last long.
“I can’t say enough about Alan and Brian,” Force said. “They have been so great to work with and this whole Monster Energy team has really come together. This whole team works really well together and they are a great group of guys. I am proud of every one of them, and we all work so hard to try and get the win every race.”
It isn’t an easy task in Top Fuel and Force fully knows that after waiting until her fourth season for her first victory. Getting one in Bristol will be just as hard going against a loaded field that includes Kalitta, defending world champion Antron Brown, who won in Epping, Torrence, a Bristol winner in 2013, last year’s winner Crampton, five-time Bristol winner and eight-time world champion Tony Schumacher, J.R. Todd, Clay Millican and Shawn Langdon.
But wins haven’t been the only highlight for Force, who has nine career final round appearances. Force set a Top Fuel national elapsed time record in Topeka with an incredible run of 3.676 seconds. She joined the rest of her family members – John Force, Ashley Force Hood and Courtney Force – as NHRA drivers who’ve held a national record in Top Fuel or Funny Car at one time.
“I think it is neat to be able to join my family with their list of accomplishments,” Force said. “The fact that we all now have set a national record at one time or another is cool. It would be awesome to beat that record and just hang onto it. I would like for it to be ours for a while and maybe have it be something unbeatable. It does seem like nowadays the race cars are getting faster and quicker every race so I don’t know how long we will hang onto this record. I am hoping it last for a little while so we can enjoy it.”
CREDIT: NHRA Communications