Monster Energy driver Brittany Force wins AAA Texas FallNationals, now second in points

Brittany Force continues to show during this year’s NHRA Countdown to the Championship that she and her Monster Energy team can contend for the Top Fuel crown.
In Sunday’s AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals at Texas Motorplex, Force showed why she is a title contender, by beating some of the top drivers in her class – including the then top-two drivers in the standings – and winning her second race in three events to catapult into second in points.
With consistent runs all day, Force defeated Terry McMillen, then second-place Doug Kalitta and championship leader Steve Torrence in the first three rounds before beating past champion Shawn Langdon in the finals.
And with two races left – including the AAA Finals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, Calif., which awards points-and-a-half – she’s within striking distance of her first title, with an opportunity to take command of the standings later this month at the NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
“We’re exactly where we needed to be – standing here in the winner’s circle,” said Force, donning the cowboy hat given to the race winners of each category. “We have two more and we’re going after it.”
And going after it Force – the No. 5 qualifier – did today. Facing McMillen, the No. 12 qualifier, Force overcame a slightly slower reaction time – her time was .085 seconds to McMillen’s .065 – to lead by 60 feet and win by about half a car length, running the fastest pass of the weekend to that point and her quickest pass of the weekend at that point. It also moved her record to 15-1 over McMillen, a Countdown to the Championship contender.
Next up was Kalitta, who Force had been battling with the last two races for second in the standings. With the starting line advantage, Force jumped ahead and never looked back to take the win and gain on Kalitta, the winner of the first Countdown race. Force ran 3.719 seconds at 326.56 mph, with a reaction time of .095 seconds.
Then came Torrence, the No. 1 qualifier and points leader for much of the season, who earlier in the day had a frightening crash when his car – in which he won his quarterfinals race on a holeshot – veered left into the wall and crossed the track and hit the right lane wall after a tire blew.
Torrence’s team brought out a spare car, but Force and team knew they couldn’t take the backup lightly. And they didn’t, with Force running a 3.685-second pass at 327.43 mph – the same time Torrence earned to take top qualifying honors – to win and transfer to the finals.
Force edged ahead of Langdon at 60 feet in a contest that was nearly even the entire way. Even after Force’s Monster Energy dragster crossed the finish line – at an event top elapsed time of 3.681 seconds at 326.87 mph – she only managed to defeat Langdon by about eight inches, in their first finals matchup.
“Two people that are ahead of us, (Doug) Kalitta and (Steve) Torrence, and we took them out,” Force said. “It felt good. A lot needed to happen but it went our way. We needed to go rounds. I felt confident we were going to turn on those win lights. It was a huge win for us.”
The win put her ahead of Kalitta by 19 points, and she now trails Torrence by 57 points. It is also the highest she has been in the points standings this late in the season.
“That seems surreal,” Force said when asked about the possibility of winning the title. “I’ve only been out here five years, and to think about a championship is unreal. We’re getting closer and closer. We’re chasing Steve (Torrence), and we’re going to chase him all the way to the end of this thing.”
The event had more special meaning for John Force Racing, as Robert Hight and the AAA Texas Chevrolet Camaro SS won in Funny Car to give JFR its second-ever Top Fuel/Funny Car double-win.
“We’ve had two double ups with Robert,” said Force, who also share the winner’s circle with Hight at Gainesville in 2016. “It’s huge for John Force Racing and really pumps us up going into the next two races.”
Force and the team will continue their assault on the championship Oct. 27-29 with the NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Nevada.
4-Second Reads:
  • Best Qualifying Effort: 3.747 seconds/282.95 mph (Round 2, Qualified No. 5)
  • Elimination Round 1 (Left Lane): 3.708 seconds/327.27 mph (RT – .085 seconds), def. No. 12 Terry McMillen, 3.754 seconds/317.57 mph (RT – .062 seconds); despite falling behind at the Christmas tree, pulled ahead by 60-foot mark and made a straight pass down the middle in 50th elimination-round of the season to win; vs. McMillen – now 15-1 all-time; 5-0 this season; 3-0 at Dallas
  • Elimination Round 2 (Quarterfinals, Left Lane): 3.719 seconds/326.56 mph (RT – .095 seconds), def. No. 4 Doug Kalitta, 3.739 seconds/323.43 mph (RT – .100 seconds); strong off the line and led the entire way to take out second in points; vs Kalitta – now 11-9 all-time; 1-1 this season; 1-1 at Dallas
  • Elimination Round 3 (Semifinals, Left Lane): 3.685 seconds/327.43 mph (RT – .079 seconds), def. No. 1 Steve Torrence, 3.728 seconds/323.35 mph (RT – .069 seconds); another perfect pass just three thousandths of a second off Torrence’s top qualifying time to make it to the finals; vs. Torrence – now 6-6 all-time; 3-4 this season; 1-0 at Dallas
  • Elimination Round 4 (Finals, Left Lane): 3.681 seconds/326.87 mph (RT – .059 seconds), def. No. 7 Shawn Langdon, 3.693 seconds/326.56 mph (RT – .048 seconds); fell behind at the tree but chased Langdon down by 60 feet and won after a mostly side-by-side battle, winning by about eight inches; vs. Langdon – now 7-7 all-time; 3-1 this season; 1-0 at Dallas
  • Now 121-108 (229 rounds) all-time in elimination rounds (.528)
  • Now 19-9 (28 rounds) all-time in elimination rounds after qualifying No. 5 (.679)
  • Now 7-3 (10 rounds) all-time in elimination rounds at Dallas (.700)
  • Now 34-19 (53 rounds) this season in elimination rounds (.581); sets career-best in a season, with previous best of 33 in 2016
  • Top Fuel Points Standings: 1. Steve Torrence 2465; 2. Brittany Force 2408; 3. Doug Kalitta 2389; 4. Antron Brown 2360; 5. Leah Pritchett 2285.

John Force Racing PR/Photo Gary Nastase and Auto Imagery

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