Advance Auto Parts driver Courtney Force looks to join father, sister with Indy victory

As a child, Courtney Force watched as her father John Force set NHRA record after record, win championship after championship, and create a fanbase that is second-to-none in the drag racing world.
Of course, she dreamed about becoming a racing driver like dad, blasting down the drag strip at 300-plus mph and winning races. And eventually, dreams became reality, as she drives the Advance Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series tour.
“Growing up, I knew this was a big deal, even as a little kid, that this was the biggest race of the season,” Force said. “Everyone knows just to be out here, just to be qualified for the U.S. Nationals, and to have a car that is competitive in this race, is such a huge accomplishment.”
But dreams still exist, and she’s hoping to turn a few of them into reality soon. One of them is becoming a champion like her father, who has 16 championships in his storied career. Another is winning the most prestigious race on the series calendar, the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis.
She’ll fight to win the U.S. Nationals like her father, sister and two-time winner Ashley Force Hood, current teammate and three-time winner Robert Hight, and give John Force Racing its 13th championship at The Big Go.
The first round of qualifying is Friday, and two rounds are scheduled for Saturday and Sunday. Elimination rounds are scheduled for Monday, Sept. 4.
“I grew up watching my dad compete in this race as a little kid, and this is the race that ends summer and starts that battle for the title,” Force said. “I’m so excited to be a part of this race, and already can’t wait to get back on this race track. I’m confident we’ll have a great race car when we show up for The Big Go.
“There’s so much attention that goes into this race. Obviously, it is Indianapolis, the heart of racing here. Being that there are two races within one weekend, I think it makes it exciting for fans. It’s two races in one, it’s a double feature. They’re seeing some of the top drivers in the world come here and compete because it is Indianapolis, because it is the U.S. Nationals.
Force has enjoyed varied amounts of success at Lucas Oil Raceway. In five races, her best result came in 2014, when she advanced to the semifinals. She also earned the No. 1 qualifier – the first of her Funny Car career – in 2012.
She won the annual Traxxas Shootout at the track last year, and is counting on strong support from her fans to participate in this year’s event. Fan voting for the Traxxas Shootout ends Tuesday morning.
“To be able to tell people that you’ve won the U.S. Nationals takes you to a whole new level,” Force said. “And that’s what we hope to do this weekend. We hope to get that job done, and walk away with the U.S. Nationals victory for the first time. I want to do it because I’ve seen my dad do it multiple times, my sister Ashley, other teammates. I hope we can do it. We’ve got a great hot rod. We haven’t gotten a win yet, but to get the first one of the year here, I wouldn’t want it any other way.”
Force was also among nearly a dozen drivers to compete in last week’s test in Brownsburg. The team tested a backup car, in which Force made six passes over two days with a best run of 3.868 seconds at 332.18 mph. The team is still deciding whether to use this car or the primary car. Either way, her test results give Force confidence in going rounds and winning the U.S. Nationals.
Five qualifying sessions are scheduled for the U.S. Nationals (all times Eastern): Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 3:45 p.m. and 7:45 p.m. and Sunday at 12:45 p.m. and 4 p.m.
Fox Sports 1 will provide two hours of qualifying coverage (all times Eastern): Sunday at noon and 5 p.m. and two hours of live eliminations at 11 a.m. FOX will provide three hours of live eliminations at 1 p.m.
4-Second Reads:
  • Courtney Force has competed in five races at Indianapolis and every race since 2012, her first race at the track.
  • Force is still seeking her first career Funny Car victory at Indianapolis. Her best result was a semifinals appearance in 2014.
  • Force is 5-5 in 10 elimination rounds at Indianapolis, with four first-round elimination wins.
  • Force’s best qualifying effort at Indianapolis is No. 1, which she qualified in 2012. That was her first career No. 1 in Funny Cars.
  • Force is currently sixth in Funny Car points standings. She has already clinched a spot in the Countdown for the Championship.
  • In 2017, Force has a 18-16 record in 34 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.
  • Force’s most recent NHRA victory – 2016 NHRA SpringNationals in Baytown, Texas
  • Force’s most recent No. 1 qualifying effort – 2017 Mile-High Nationals in Morrison, Colo.
  • Force’s best time/speed at Indianapolis – 3.867 seconds (2016 Q3); 327.66 mph (2016 Q4)
  • Force’s best time/speed of career – 3.815 seconds (2017 Topeka Q2); 338.68 mph (2017 Topeka E1)

John Force Racing PR/Photo Gary Nastase and Auto Imagery

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