With a second NHRA Camping World tour championship clearly in her sights, Brittany Force starts Sunday’s 57th Auto Club NHRA Finals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona as the No. 1 qualifier on the strength of a 3.641 second performance in a Monster Energy / Flav-R-Pac dragster she drove to a track record-setting and all-time best Top Fuel speed of 338.94 mph.
Robert Hight, who is trying to join Don “the Snake” Prudhomme, Kenny Bernstein and teammate John Force as one of the sport’s only four-time Funny Car champions, will start his Automobile Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro SS from the No. 4 position after a best of 3.849 seconds. John Force, meanwhile, qualified his Dan Hood and Tim Fabrisi prepared PEAK Antifreeze and Coolant Camaro No. 7 in Funny Car at 3.864 at 333.49 mph. Third generation drag racer Austin Prock, whose Montana Brand / Rocky Mountain Twist dragster has surged during the Countdown, will start from the No. 5 spot at 3.689 seconds, 333.08 mph.
Brittany grabbed 13 of the maximum 16 qualifying bonus points over the two days and, as a result, will carry a 26-point advantage over second place Justin Ashley into Sunday eliminations where she will oppose No. 16 qualifier Steve Chrisman in the first round. The No. 1 start is the 2017 Champion’s 10th of this season and 22nd over the last two campaigns. That gives her 42 career No. 1s, third most in team history behind her dad (165) and Hight (77).
“I feel very good going into race day tomorrow. We had four consistent runs, got that No. 1 spot and we picked up some bonus points, so this Monster Energy / Flav-R-Pac team is going into tomorrow feeling good,” said Force. “I’ve been here before, battling out to the final day for the championship, that gives me a little bit of confidence. We’re out ahead, but not by very much. It could change so quickly, but this team is incredible, what we’ve done all season long, what we’ve done this weekend, we just need to keep on hitting our numbers like we have been.”
Robert Hight’s Top 4 starting position is his 19th in 22 races this year in the NHRA national record-holding Auto Club Chevy tuned by Jimmy Prock and Chris Cunningham. A 61-time tour winner, Hight will begin his drive to a potential fourth championship against No. 13 qualifier Chad Green. Significantly, he will start eliminations 57 points ahead of No. 1 qualifier Ron Capps and 62 ahead of Matt Hagan.
“Two great runs today for this Auto Club Chevy team. It gives us something to work with for tomorrow,” High said. “It’s going to be an exciting day of racing, that’s for sure. These Auto Club guys have worked hard all season, tomorrow it pays off. We just need to keep our heads down and focus. It’s ours to lose, we know that, and we know what we need to do. I’m ready to get it going and I know every single one of these guys is too.”
Regardless of what happens Sunday, John Force will finish in the Top five for the 29th time in his career. He’ll open his bid for a ninth win in the Auto Club Finals and 17th overall at Auto Club Raceway against No. 10 qualifier Blake Alexander against whom he is 5-0 in his career.
“Going to be an exciting Sunday race day. Championships are on the line. I know I’m out of it but Brittany and Robert are right in it. It’s going to come down to the wire. They both have what it takes to get the job done, they’ve had it all year,” Force said. “We’ll just have to see what happens, see how the day shakes out, maybe this PEAK team can do something to help that Auto Club team out. We’ll see.”
In the midst of a strong Countdown performance that includes a win at Reading, Pa., a
runner-up finish at Dallas and a trip to the semifinals two weeks ago at Las Vegas, Austin Prock and the Montana Brand / RMT dragster will go into Sunday’s eliminations against No. 12 qualifier Shawn Langdon.
“Solid day for this Montana Brand / Rocky Mountain Twist team. We’re rolling into Sunday qualified fifth and have a great car to go rounds,” Prock said. “We’re looking forward to a strong day to finish out the season.”
Competition continues at the Auto Club Finals with eliminations at 11 a.m. Sunday. Television coverage will air on FOX Sports 1 (FS1) beginning with qualifying highlights at 2 p.m. ET and concluding with final eliminations from 4-to-7 p.m. ET.