Courtney Force and her Advance Auto Parts team are on fire, which is appropriate as they head to Summit Racing Motorsports Park, the site of the specialty Night Under Fire event. Force, who has raced in and watched her father, 16-time champion John Force, race and win at Night Under Fire is eager to continue her hot streak into the halfway mark of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season.
The 2017 Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals are well behind the 12-time event winner. After consecutive trips to the finals in 2015 and 2016, Force inexplicably failed to qualify in 2017. Not only is that the only such blemish on her record, it came in a season in which she qualified no worse than eighth, was a No. 1 qualifier seven times, tying a record for females in the Funny Car category, and finished the season third in points, a career-best.
While she matched records in 2017, the 2018 season has gone much different for the superstar — different in a good way. Force has tallied four wins and seven No. 1 qualifiers in only the first 11 events. What’s also impressive is that Force and her Advance Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro have qualified fourth or better at every event.
“It’s just a huge testament to what my team can achieve, especially under pressure,” explained Force. “My Advance Auto Parts team has done an awesome job working on this car in the heat the past couple races. I know it’s been brutal out there for them, but they got their job done. (Crew Chiefs) Brian Corradi and Dan Hood tune this car up right and get us to go rounds. We’ve learned a lot so far this season and we’re ready to head to Norwalk, Ohio and another hot track.”
The magic touch Corradi and Hood have for Force’s Chevy Camaro is evident not only with their win-loss record but also times and speeds. Force and her Advance Auto Parts team have run quickest at six of 11 events and were fastest at five of 11. For two consecutive races the Advance Auto Parts hot rod has been the lone Funny Car to race into the three-second range on hot and tricky race tracks. The extra bonus points they have picked up have aided in their healthy points lead, Force is going into Norwalk with a 201-point advantage.
“We’re at the halfway mark for the season and we just have to maintain our focus. So much credit goes to my team and the job that they have done. I am trying to keep up with them and perform well as a driver. We are in the points lead right now but our focus is getting to Indy and having a cushion and locking into the countdown. That is when we are really going to need this momentum,” Force said. “Right now, it is great but we really have to keep it all year long if we want to end up on top at the end of the season.”
Qualifying for the 12th annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals will begin with two session at 5:30 and 8:30 p.m. on Friday and two more sessions of qualifying on Saturday at 1:30 and 3 p.m. Final eliminations will begin at 11 a.m. on Sunday.
JFR PR/Photo Credit Auto Imagery