With Auto Club Finals No. 1 qualifier, Monster Energy driver Brittany Force ready to battle for Top Fuel title

Monster Energy driver Brittany Force is on the cusp of an historic achievement after speeding to the No. 1 qualifying spot for the Auto Club NHRA Finals on Saturday at Auto Club Raceway.
Force could become the first woman since Shirley Muldowney to win the Top Fuel championship, and she could join her father, John, as title winners in the family.
Force cut Steve Torrence’s points lead to nine after a stellar qualifying effort, earning eight bonus points and the No. 1 spot. With 30 points awarded per round win, the title will be determined Sunday.
“I am a little overwhelmed right now. There is a lot going through my head,” Force said. “I want Sunday morning to be here. I just want to climb in my car and get ready. My team is going to throw down all day long. We want that No. 1 spot, and we are going to fight for it.”
The championship is still a three-driver battle, however, both Force and Torrence could eliminate third-place Doug Kalitta by advancing to the semifinals. If Force and Torrence fall out in the first round, Kalitta would have to win in the semifinals, and if Force and Torrence lose in the second round, Kalitta would have to win the race overall.
“We all want the same thing tomorrow,” Force said. “It’s not going to be easy, it’s going to be a lot of hard work. But if we get there, if we accomplish that, it’ll all be worth it.”
Force earned the No. 1 spot with a track-record run of 3.667 seconds at 330.31 mph. It’s her second of the season and eighth of her career. Force was also quickest in the final round, 3.698 seconds at 327.03 mph, to pile up qualifying bonus points.
“We had two good runs, but this is a difficult track,” Force said. “Tomorrow, I’m hoping conditions will be fairly similar. I have a great team behind me, and that’s what is most important. I have Alan Johnson, Brian Husen, and I have all the confidence in them. I know we’ll figure it out, and I know we’ll be good tomorrow.”
Force squares off against No. 16 qualifier Terry Haddock in the first round, as Haddock’s best run was 3.874 at 307.51 mph. Torrence is on the same side of the ladder as Force, and they could meet in the semifinals.
Muldowney, a three-time champion, last won the Top Fuel title in 1982. The most recent female champion in an NHRA professional category was Erica Enders, who won the Pro Stock titles in 2014 and 2015.
John Force won 16 championships in Funny Car, and Brittany Force would love to join her dad as an NHRA champ.
But she’s focused on one round at a time.
“Right now, there’s so much going on, there’s so much coming at us, I’m just trying to keep my focus in one place,” Force said. “That’s in my race car.”
Elimination rounds for the Auto Club NHRA Finals begin at 11 a.m. Pacific. Live television coverage begins at 4 p.m. Eastern/1 p.m. Pacific on Fox Sports 1.
4-Second Reads:
  • Qualifying Round 1 (Left Lane): 6.619 seconds/92.86 mph; lost traction immediately and slowed (No. 13 in session and No. 13 overall; no bonus points in session)
  • Qualifying Round 2 (Right Lane): 3.667 seconds/330.31 mph; strong run to the top spot (No. 1 of session and No. 1 overall; four bonus points in session and four bonus points overall)
  • Qualifying Round 3 (Right Lane): 5.314 seconds/127.28 mph; cylinder out at the start and car pushed toward the centerline before she slowed (No. 13 of session and No. 1 overall; no bonus points in session and four bonus points overall)
  • Qualifying Round 4 (Left Lane): 3.698 seconds/327.03 mph (No. 1 of session and No. 1 overall; four bonus points in session and eight bonus points overall)
  • This is the second time this season and eighth time in her career Force has qualified No. 1. The last time she qualified No. 1 came in July at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Ill., during her birthday weekend.
  • This is the first time Force has qualified No. 1 at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona. She is looking for her first victory at the track.
  • Force is looking for her first victory and first finals appearance from the No. 1 qualifying position. She has made it to the semifinals twice from the No. 1 position.
  • Force’s first-round matchup against Terry Haddock marks the third time the two will compete against each other. Force is 2-0 in the previous matchups, including a win in the first round of the NHRA Winternationals at Pomona in February.
  • John Force Racing announced Saturday at Hot Wheels ™ Americana Series™ Car Care Products will become the Official Car Care Products of the championship-winning NHRA drag racing series team, starting this weekend.

John Force Racing PR/Photo Gary Nastase and Auto Imagery

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