Funny Car points leader Courtney Force is heading to the Toyota NHRA Sonoma Nationals having already clinched a spot in NHRA’s Countdown to the Championship six-race playoffs. While it’s a relief, the secured spot doesn’t make the 12-time event winner any less motivated to keep racking up round wins.
“It was a good weekend for the Advance Auto Parts team in Denver, clinching a spot (in the Countdown to the Championship) knowing we don’t have to worry about trying to fight to get into that top 10 by Indy. We can just go out there and focus on doing the best job that we can to perform and to win races,” explained Force.
Earning the No. 1 qualifier and racing to the semifinals of the Mile-High Nationals outside of Denver was a bit of redemption for Force after an unusually unsuccessful weekend at the New England Nationals where she qualified 13th and had a first round exit. It was the first time in 25 races that Force had qualified outside of the top eight.
“I think we definitely had a pretty good comeback from a race where we struggled in qualifying and on race day,” Force said. “To come out to Denver and to have been quickest three of the four (qualifying) sessions I think is incredible. It says a lot about this Advance Auto Parts team and what we’ve got going on.”
What they have going on is a 210-point lead with four event wins, nine No. 1 qualifiers, one runner-up finish and four semifinal finishes and there’s still ten races left in 2018. The stellar first half of the season has Force optimistic about what’s to come, especially at a track she has some fond memories at.
“I’m looking forward to heading to our second stop on the swing in Sonoma,” Force said. “Our Advance Auto Parts team has a No. 1 qualifier and a win back in 2014, and this has always been a favorite track to race on. I grew up coming out to the Western swing to cheer on my dad every summer as a kid with my family, and I can’t wait to get back out there with the whole family again this weekend. Our team is looking to extend our points lead so we are hoping for a win of our own this weekend, and I feel like we have a race car right now that is capable of that. This track has always felt like a home track to me, being from Southern California, and I can’t wait to be back in wine country with so many amazing fans.”
Force has raced her way to the semifinals at Sonoma Raceway both in 2017 and 2016 where she was the No. 4 and No. 2 qualifier, respectively. Her No. 1 qualifier in 2014 came alongside her sister Brittany Force who had the No. 1 spot in Top Fuel. The sisters have qualified in the top spot together three times in their careers.
Qualifying at the 31st annual Toyota NHRA Sonoma Nationals begins with two sessions on Friday at 5 and 8 p.m. with two additional sessions on Saturday at 2 and 5 p.m. Eliminations are set to begin Sunday at 11 a.m.
JFR PR/Photo Credit: Auto Imagery