In front of a sold-out crowd, Brittany Force and the Monster Energy / Flav-R-Pac Chevrolet dragster earned the No. 1 qualifying position at the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway on Saturday evening. John Force and the BlueDEF PLATINUM Chevrolet Camaro SS will start from No. 2 with Robert Hight and the Flav-R-Pac / Cornwell Tools / AAA Camaro in No. 3. Austin Prock and the Montana Brand / Rocky Mountain Twist dragster will start their day from No. 12.
For the 43rd time in her career, the second time at Gainesville Raceway, Force will start race day from No. 1 after her 3.699-second pass at 336.99 mph from a weather-ridden Friday held through Saturday’s two sessions. Force and her David Grubnic tuned hot rod would stay consistent in the final two qualifying runs with a 3.744 at 335.48 that also won her the first round of the Pep Boys All-Star NHRA Callout and earned the team three bonus points.
In the Pep Boys Callout semifinals, after selecting to race against Josh Hart, the Monster Energy dragster would smoke the tires almost immediately. Force would watch Hart, the eventual Callout winner, drive around her as she coasted to an 8.884.
Force would have redemption in the final qualifying session going 3.718 seconds at 336.15 mph, again the quickest of the session earning the Monster Energy team another three bonus points.
“Overall, this Monster Energy / Flav-R-Pac team got the No. 1. It was a bummer to lose out on the All-Star Callout. We felt good going strong going into it, we made it to the semis, but we got beat. Now the bigger focus is race day tomorrow. We put today behind us, and we start all over again going into race day and we’re at the top spot,” said Force who will race against Keith Murt in the first round of eliminations. “We were low of that last session and that’s outstanding, running in different conditions, and still being able to run low. Those runs are awesome, and we benefitted from getting that extra run for being in the Callout so it helps us out on race day.”
John Force and the BlueDEF Camaro were consistent through qualifying. Already with a 3.898-second pass from Friday, crew chiefs Danny Hood and Tim Fabrisi would string together a 3.936 run at 329.91 mph and a 3.878 run at 329.91 mph. Both would earn the legendary driver bonus points for a total of seven through the weekend. Force’s efforts would land him the No. 2 qualifying position.
“I was riding on a high coming in here after the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame. Then you get out here and you realize what your job really is and that was to get into the show,” said Force who matches up with Dave Richards first round. “Good two days of qualifying for this BlueDEF Chevy. We got in the show, did our job, we aren’t low but we got No. 2 so overall it’s good and we’ll see what happened tomorrow.”
Coming into the day in No. 5, Robert Hight and the Flav-R-Pac Camaro shook things up on Saturday. They’d shake the tires in the first session for only a 5.564-second pass at 126.65 mph but it would be their final run that put them in the No. 3 spot. Hight would handle the Flav-R-Pac Chevy to an impressive 3.879 run at 333.99, the third-quickest pass of the session earning them a bonus point.
“We were down on power that first run of qualifying then we had a little too much on it earlier today. That second run was good for this Flav-R-Pac team. We’re back. There’s still more out there, too,” said Hight who races against John Smith first round. “I’m not worried, feeling good about race day. If we had had one more run in those similar conditions today, we probably would have gone low. That’s good for tomorrow.”
After a 3.779-second pass at 324.44 mph on Friday afternoon, Austin Prock and the Montana Brand / RMT dragster would run into some trouble during Saturday qualifying. Prock would lose traction and have to shut it off to go only 4.564 at 164.89 which would also lose him the first round of the Pep Boys Callout to Hart. The final session would be more of the same for the Montana Brand team, smoking the tires early to go 7.915 at 112.36.
“A little bit of a rough start on the weekend for this Montana Brand / RMT team. Missed on the power level on Friday but made a nice clean pass and luckily it got us in the show,” said Prock who will take on Clay Millican first round. “Going into the Callout we were pushing in the first run today. It did smoke the tires, but it was really close to going and if it would have went it would have ripped off low E.T. We looked a little more mixed up than we actually are. I’m not really worried about tomorrow. I know we have the best people upstairs in the lounge and one of the best crews out here. I’ll be on my game and I know they will and we’ll see how our cards fall.”
The Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway will continue with two eliminations on Sunday slated for a 10 a.m. start. Television coverage of the event continues with a dedicated Pep Boys All-Start Callout show at 10:30 a.m. ET on FOX Sports 1 (FS1). Sunday race day action will be at noon ET on FOX Broadcasting Network.