While her famous father was busy winning $100,000 in the Traxxas Shootout, Courtney Force was occupied scoring her second No. 1 qualifier at the AAA Texas NHRA Fall Nationals. Force’s Friday Night 4.081 second pass at over 308 mph topped the charts and stayed that way through the final three rounds of qualifying in an 18 car Funny Car field.
“Going into the No. 1 spot, obviously you never know what is going to happen on race day, but it definitely put us in a good position. I think we have a good race car. This Traxxas Ford Mustang is showing that it can run in the heat, it can run when the track cools down and I think we’re going to give everyone a run for their money,” said Force.
Force picked up eight bonus points over the two days of qualifying hits; the highest amount she has scored all season at any one event.
The Rookie of the Year front-runner will have lane choice over the No. 16 qualifier, Todd Lesenko, in the opening round of eliminations tomorrow.
“We’re going to have lane choice tomorrow and it’s definitely where we want to be when we’re picking up those points, you know. It’s always good picking up those bonus points going into the Countdown to the Championship. We try to get every point we can because it’s all going to count in the end. But most importantly going to the No. 1 spot at the top and holding it for three rounds (of qualifying) and going into race day tomorrow,” said Force.
Force suffered an unexpected first round loss in the Traxxas Nitro Shootout to Ron Capps.
“On the Traxxas Shootout, it was definitely unfortunate. Capps is tough to beat. He went out there and ran a great number in the heat. Unfortunately we dropped a hole and it threw a spark plug out, but that last run we went out there and we didn’t know if it was going to go down the track or not. We wanted to just push it as far as it could go and see what the track would take in the heat and we made a good number. We’re happy with how the runs have been and definitely feeling confident going into race day tomorrow,” said Force
When asked if a pole position helped with the sting of a first round loss in the Traxxas Shootout, Force said, “Yes, it definitely does when you’re bummed that you can’t get that Traxxas Shootout win especially when you are the Traxxas Ford Mustang out there. You definitely want to get that win for your sponsors especially at their home track. They are based right out of here in Plano, Texas and we really wanted to get that win; really wanted to get that trophy. That was awesome, but you know what, I get to stare at it from afar because my dad will be holding it so it’s definitely cool.”
“I’m very proud to have accomplished that (No. 1 spot) at the track that my dad wins the Traxxas Nitro Shootout and I go No. 1 and we both do it at the track he crashed at a few years ago. It’s definitely a special moment for both of us,” she added.
Even with this being Force’s second No. 1 qualifier of the year, her rookie year at that, Force still feels like she needs to continue battling it out for Auto Club’s Road to the Future Award for NHRA’s top “Rookie of the Year,” despite being the only rookie to make the Countdown to the Championship and win an NHRA event.
“It’s definitely still on my mind. You never know what’s going to happen, but we’re going to keep going and pushing our car to do the best we can at every race, try to pick up as many points as possible and really just try to prove to everyone that we’re out here to win and (we are) not just a new driver. I am still learning, but I’m out here to win as well,” said Force.
“Obviously when we’re four of the eights cars in the Shootout we expected to at least go another round or two and unfortunately most of us went out in the first round, but to have my dad take it all the way and get the win is a huge accomplishment for us. When we’re bummed that we didn’t make it that far, at least a teammate and my dad was able to take that win home for John Force Racing and all of our sponsors, especially Auto Club because this is their race,” said Force.
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