Consistently fast and Courtney Force have been synonymous through 11 National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Mello Yello Drag Racing Series races.
The driver of the Advance Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro SS recorded her fifth Funny Car No. 1 qualifier honor in the past six races and class-leading seventh overall at the Fitzgerald USA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway.
Force made the only Funny Car sub-4-second run during the four rounds of qualifications – a 3.993-second pass at 325.92 mph – on a considerably cooler racetrack Friday night. The Funny Car points leader entering eliminations has yet to qualify outside the top four.
“It’s been a start to the season for the Advance Auto Parts Chevy Camaro team,” said Force, who registered her first pole at the racetrack. “I’m really proud of my guys. They have been really fighting hard and they have a good thing going. We’ll have to build off our runs today and yesterday and get it down there tomorrow. I’m looking forward to racing on Father’s Day here at Thunder Valley.”
Four-time Pro Stock champion Greg Anderson has also been dominant in qualifying in the Summit Racing Equipment Chevrolet Camaro SS. His pass of 6.674 seconds at 205.35 mph earned the North Carolina resident the low qualifier honor for the seventh time this season and 100th time in his 20-year career.
Bob Glidden (102) is third on the all-time NHRA list of low qualifiers. Sixteen-time NHRA Funny Car champion John Force, who drives the PEAK Coolant & Motor Oil Chevrolet Camaro SS, sits atop the list with 155. Anderson holds the Pro Stock record of 16 No. 1 qualifiers in a season.
“It’s something I never thought I could do or ever dreamed of,” Anderson said. “It’s obviously pretty heady company to be in. I’ll take it and keep going. It’s really a team effort. All the No. 1 qualifiers is because of the team. It’s nothing that Greg Anderson the driver does; it’s not an individual sport.”
Force will be seeking her second consecutive victory and fifth of the season– all from the low qualifier spot. Robert Hight, the 2017 Funny Car champion driving the Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro SS, was the No. 3 qualifier with a best pass of 4.077 seconds at 316.97 mph. John Force, runner-up to his daughter last week at Richmond, Virginia, was the No. 6 qualifier with a best run of 4.115/313.51.
Reigning Top Fuel champion Brittany Force (Advance Auto Parts/Monster Energy Chevrolet dragster) was the No. 5 qualifier with a pass of 3.875/320.20.
Drivers of the Chevrolet COPO Camaro have won the two rounds of the School of Automotive Technicians (SAM Tech) NHRA Factory Stock Showdown, and nine COPO Camaro drivers qualified for the 16-car field in the third event of the seven-race series.
COPO Camaro drivers claimed four of the top five spots in qualifying, led by reigning SAM Tech Shootout champion David Barton of Robesonia, Pennsylvania.
FS1 will telecast taped eliminations and finals at 7:30 p.m. ET June 17.
An interview with Funny Car No. 1 qualifier COURTNEY FORCE, JOHN FORCE RACING, ADVANCE AUTO PARTS CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (low qualifier for seventh time this season and 24th of her Funny Car career; will seek fifth win of season):
TALK ABOUT YOUR SUCCESS NOT ONLY THIS WEEKEND BUT LEADING UP TO THIS MOMENT
“It’s been a start to the season for the Advance Auto Parts Chevy Camaro team. I’m really proud of my guys. They have been really fighting hard and they have a good thing going. I’m really excited with the direction our season is going. We’re just trying to keep our heads straight, staying focused round by round. We’ve had a few wins and we’re in a really good spot obviously being in the points lead right now but continuing to just focus on getting the bonus points. Everything resets right after Indy, so we’re just trying to stay focused and learn a lot about this car. We have a long season to go and just really excited on how everyone on how everyone on my team has jelled right now. This weekend, to be completely honest, we had only one good run – that 3.99 – and it was in prime conditions, so it would be awesome to take all the credit and say we’ve had bonus points on every run. But we didn’t have a consistent car like I think we have had in the last few races. We’re going to have to learn quick tonight and learn something from our runs yesterday and today and build off of that. It’s a tricky racetrack and I think we’ve struggled a little bit. Hopefully tomorrow is a better day and we can get it down there. I’ve got the faith in my team. Those guys are smart, they know how to get it done and looking forward to racing out here on Father’s Day at Thunder Valley.”
IN YEARS PAST YOU USED THE COUNTDOWN TO PULL YOURSELF CLOSER TO THOSE AHEAD OF YOU IN THE POINTS. THIS YEAR ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO THE COUNTDOWN?
“The (reset for the Countdown) is part of it. We all know that going into the season. We just have to make some big strides when we get to the Countdown. Right now, our focus is to be in a good position when we get to Indy and hopefully lock in at the top spot or at least in the top half. Every time we’ve locked in we’ve struggled at Indy and locked in at sixth or fifth or something. I’m hoping we can lock in pretty high. That’s our ultimate goal right now and we’ll work from there.”
An interview with Pro Stock No. 1 qualifier GREG ANDERSON, KB RACING, SUMMIT RACING EQUIPMENT CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (low qualifier for seventh time this season and 100th of his Pro Stock career, which is second among active drivers and fourth all time; second low qualifier honor at track):
YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT ACHIEVING THE 100th NO. 1 QUALIFIER OF YOUR CAREER
“It’s pretty awesome. It’s something I never thought I could do or ever dreamed of. It’s obviously pretty heady company to be in. I don’t know if I’m worthy. I’ll take it and keep going. It’s really a team effort. All the No. 1 qualifiers is because of the team. It’s nothing that Greg Anderson the driver does; it’s not an individual sport. It’s a team sport all the way from the engine shop to the driver. We need to come back home and have a big party for that milestone. In the meantime, I want that yellow hat tomorrow. I feel confident.”
WHAT ABOUT THE WEATHER AND HOW IT’S AFFECTING THE TRACK?
“The track is hot, greasy and bumpy out there, but it’s OK. Whoever can manage that racetrack the best will be holding the Wally. My car seems to like it. I’m looking forward to tomorrow. Yesterday was pole day and today was a tune-up day. We tried some different things out there, learned some things that hopefully will pay off tomorrow. You need every advantage you can get.”
WHAT DO YOU PERCEIVE AS YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE TOMORROW?
“There are 15 other race car drivers out there that are wanting blood out of everybody else in this class. So far this year everyone is drawing blood; everybody is beating everybody. Everybody can beat everybody. Everybody has beat everybody. You have to dodge all the land mines and it starts with the first round. The days of rolling in the first round are gone. It’s a royal battle right from round one on. You better bring you’re a game.”
HOW TOUGH IS IT FOR YOU AS A DRIVER WHO IS USED TO TRYING TO BEAT THE CLOCK TO HAVE TO RACE THE TRACK?
“It’s tough, but I’ve been around long enough that you have situations like this in the past. Every race is not going to be as smooth and pretty as you could lay it out to be. I like extra challenges. My team likes extra challenges. It’s like the U.S. Open in golf that is going on right now. The golf course is winning.”
BRITTANY FORCE, JOHN FORCE RACING, ADVANCE AUTO PARTS/MONSTER ENERGY CHEVROLET DRAGSTER (No. 5 qualifier):“It’s definitely been a tricky weekend, not just for us, but for all the teams. It’s a tough track, especially in the heat. We’ve had more luck in the right lane so that will factor into tomorrow. But it’s kind of one of those weekends where it could be anybody’s game so we’re going to go out and do the best that we can and hopefully turn on some win lights. It got down there in the heat of the day (on the last qualifying run). We’re probably going to use a lot of the data from that run going into tomorrow.”
ROBERT HIGHT, JOHN FORCE RACING, AUTO CLUB OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (No. 3 qualifier):“We didn’t do a good job today of keeping it on eight cylinders. That’s what got us. We’ve gotta get this thing on eight cylinders. The last run was showing some hope. It was quick to the 330 then it put a cylinder out, hit the bumps and moved way over and I lifted. The trick’s going to be to stay in the right lane tomorrow, keep lane choice every round, keep it on eight cylinders and be ready to pedal it. You’re gonna see a lot of pedalfests out there. The driver’s going to earn money tomorrow.”
JOHN FORCE, JOHN FORCE RACING, PEAK COOLANT & MOTOR OIL CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (No. 6 qualifier): “I’m ready. I got (Ron) Capps? He’s is a good man. He’s a champ. He’s a winner and we’ve raced a lot of years. Tomorrow’s all about who can get A to B and make it stick. Our PEAK Coolant and Motor Oil Chevrolet Camaro SS is coming around. The last qualifying run it dropped a couple of holes but it made it to half track.”
JEG COUGHLIN JR., ELITE MOTORSPORTS, JEGS.COM/ELITE PERFORMANCE CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (No. 2 qualifier): “It’s going to take more of the same tomorrow. The conditions here are summer conditions. We’re pretty high up (altitude) and there’s a lot of moisture in the air and direct sunlight on the track all day long. The crew chiefs are pulling their hair out. Our last run, Q4, gave us a little momentum into tomorrow. That feels good. The Chevy Camaro kept on accelerating.”
DREW SKILLMAN, RAY SKILLMAN MOTORSPORTS, RAY SKILLMAN AUTO GROUP CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (No. 3 qualifier):“After being out of the top half of the field (for eliminations) the last few events, it feels good to be in the top eight again. We had some good runs, the Chevy Camaro is feeling good from the seat and we’re looking forward to tomorrow to get our first win of the season.”
TANNER GRAY, GRAY MOTORSPORTS, VALVOLINE CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (No. 4 qualifier): “It wasn’t a bad effort, especially on a slick track than has a lot of bumps. We won last week at Richmond from the No. 5 spot, so we’ll see if we can repeat. It will be tough with the heat and humidity expected to be the same during eliminations, but we’ll give it our best shot.”
ALEX LAUGHLIN, GAS MONKEY ENERGY, FITZGERALD USA CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (No. 5 qualifier): “The run where we got the No. 5 spot in Q2 was good enough to go No. 1, but it was weird timing with the bump in the track and were I met with fourth gear. We have no complaints. The car is back to where it needs to be.”
DERIC KRAMER, KRAMER RACING, AMERICAN ETHANOL CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (No. 7 qualifier): “Luckily for us, a week off is not that big a deal. It’s just picking up where we left off. I think we always do really well the worse the track gets. I think that plays in our favor, so we’ll see what happens tomorrow.”
VINCENT NOBILE, MOUNTAIN VIEW RACING, MOUNTAIN VIEW TIRE CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (No. 8 qualifier): “The last run was really good. I think we were tied for low ET. We had to change motors after Q3. All in all, great last pass that’s a confidence booster. Finally, all of our suspension adjustments worked. Going from one of the smoothest race surfaces to one of the roughest is kind of tricky for us. We seem to have a handle on it.”
CHRIS MCGAHA, HARLOW SAMMONS RACING, HARLOW SAMMONS OF ODESSA CHEVROLET CAMARO SS (No. 10 qualifier):“We had best speed of the day, but it didn’t do us any good. It shows we have the power. We just have to get it do the ground. Tomorrow is a whole new day, especially with this place. In the middle it is horrible. It’s the hand we’re dealt.”
Team CHEVY PR