Brittany Force, pilot of the Monster Energy Top Fuel dragster, took some time to look back at how the whole 2017 season came together to earn her the first Top Fuel world championship for John Force Racing and the first by a woman in 35 years. Force ended the year with four race wins, two runner-up finishes and two No. 1 qualifiers. A strong showing in the Countdown to the Championship secured her first Top Fuel world championship.
Q: You finished the season with a three hat Sunday. Green hat for the No. 1 qualifier, yellow hat for the race win and white hat for the championship. Does it get any better than that?
No, it’s pretty incredible to see what Alan Johnson, Brian Husen and our team pulled off that day. Not that we just won a championship but we won at my home track and were the No. 1 qualifiers. That just seems absolutely unreal. Its because of the group and support that I have around me that I’m able to pull it off.
Q: At the start of the 2017 season, how confident were you in the potential of the Monster Energy Top Fuel team?
I was confident in our team coming into our 2017 season. Especially looking at how well we did in 2016, we brought home our first win and had a handful of races we won. That was huge. Now, looking at the championship, I didn’t see that coming until later in the season. When it really came down to things and we really started moving up the ladder is when I started focusing on that. All I had to compare it to was last season and how well we did and we wanted to improve this year which obviously we did.
Q: Looking back at the regular season, what was the high point before the Countdown to the Championship started?
High point would have to be going right into Epping. We were struggling a lot. Couldn’t figure out our car. I mean, smoking the tires every single run. We’d get down the track maybe one out of the four qualifying passes and then we wouldn’t do well on race day. We went testing right around Topeka time and when we went out to Topeka we qualified pretty well, had a good weekend. We didn’t win but I knew that was a huge turn around for us. I knew we were on to something. I knew we were going to be okay. And then just two weekends later we won Epping. That was a big turning point for all of us.
Q: Talk about the highs and lows of the Countdown to the Championship.
I want to say we won 18 out of 24 rounds in the Countdown which is just unbelievable to me that we were able to pull that off. It proves to you that the Countdown is when it really matters, that’s what it comes down to. It is all about that Countdown, that’s how you move up in the points and we had a strong Countdown. But there are moments of highs and lows. Obviously, the highs, the wins, going rounds but the biggest low was that red light in Vegas. Not only was it a red light but it was a final round red-light and that was tough because we should have won that race. It was driver error, my fault but I sucked it up. My guys patted me on the back and we left it in Vegas. We went into Pomona trying not to think about that and I think that’s how we did so well all weekend long.
Q: You and Robert Hight doubled up in Dallas and then you both went on to win championships. You’re the only JFR drivers to double up. Can you tell us about how special that feels?
It is pretty amazing. Robert and I seem to have that luck together. My first win ever was in Gainesville was in 2016 with Robert. My first race and to have Robert there, it wasn’t just my first win but it was the first double-up for John Force Racing. So it was huge. That’s something special because Robert is family and he’s helped me throughout this whole journey of mine, back in Super Comp, A-fuel, Top Fuel, getting licensed in a Funny Car. He’s been there all along the way and really helped me out. Being able to double up and win with him is pretty incredible. But the fact that we both got a championship, that just seems so unbelievable. It’s something that I am so proud of. John Force Racing hasn’t had a championship win since 2013 so it’s been a while and then to get two in one year is pretty incredible.
Q: When you crossed the finish line in Pomona and knew you won the championship, what was the first thing you thought?
The first thing, I said it probably a hundred times with my helmet on, still buckled in was, ‘There’s no way. Oh my gosh, there’s no way, there’s no way, there’s no way.’ I probably said it a million times before I got out at the other end. Because, I mean, yeah, you’re so close, all you have to do is win the round but anything could go wrong. The driver could screw up, the car could just not perform well, you could get out run, it could be anything. When it all came down to it, I had all the confidence in my team. I felt good that day, jumping in the car and driving and that we were going to be okay. To see the win light and know what you’ve accomplished, everything you’ve ever worked for. It makes all those days where you struggled or had bad days or runs, it fixes all of it. It really makes everything worth it. Seeing that win light, it was accomplishing something I never imagined we could do. It was a dream come true.
Q: Have you thought about what 2018 will be like as the Top Fuel champion?
I’m ready to go into 2018 after ending our season so well. We’re all on this high and I’m still there with all this energy, this excitement. I want to get back in the car and I want to keep driving. We did so well all countdown long and then in Pomona what we did was just unbelievable. Its like, I don’t want a break now I want to get back out here and do it again. I want to go back and relive it all. I’m ready for 2018. There’s changes, there’s rumors going around, there’s a lot happening but I’m excited. I‘ll be ready to get back in my race car and it’s going to be pretty cool to have a No. 1 on my car.
John Force Racing PR/Photo Auto Imagery