DENVER, CO – At the end of the day on Saturday Brittany Force solidified her qualifying position at the Mopar Mile High NHRA Nationals by re-taking her No. 3 qualifying position with a 3.918 second pass at 309.63 mph. The rookie driver had slipped to No. 4 after Steve Torrence jumped to the top spot with a blistering 3.880 second run. Force moved around Khalid alBalooshi and the Al-Anabi dragster, the most recent winner, to reclaim the No. 3 spot in Top Fuel and a first round match-up with journeyman Scott Palmer.


“The first qualifying pass we smoked the tires at about half-track, so I lifted and just coasted on down the track,” Force said. “The final session we made it all the way down the track and improved from our run yesterday. We ended up running a 3.91, so we earned another bonus point. That ended up bumping us up from the No. 4 position to the No. 3 position. The team is so pumped right now. They’re so excited about it. This is exactly where we needed to be. We have (Richard) Hogan who came on board to help out my crew chiefs Dean Antonelli and Eric Lane, we got a new hot rod that is 100 pounds lighter and it’s definitely showing that it’s going to run.”


Brittany Force’s qualifying effort was the second best qualifying finish by a woman every at the Mopar Mile High NHRA Nationals. Ironically, the best qualifying performance was Melanie Troxel’s No. 1 qualifier in 2007 driving a Top Fuel dragster tuned by Richard Hogan. The veteran tuner joined the Castrol EDGE Top Fuel team last race in Norwalk and has been working side by side with Dean Antonelli and Eric Lane.


With the added bonus points following her strong qualifying runs, the Castrol EDGE driver improved from 13th in the Mello Yello points standings to the 12th position. This gave Force and her team an extra boost of confidence going into Sunday as she will face fellow competitor Scott Palmer for the first time in her racing career.


“That’s exactly what we needed,” the 27-year-old Yorba Linda, California resident said. “Gaining those extra points and just moving up whether it’s a little bit at a time, but tomorrow we’re going to try and make our way up even further. I’ve never raced Scott Palmer, so I’m excited to be racing him in round one. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to talk to him before we make our run. I definitely want to go some rounds tomorrow and get a win, but for everyone running tomorrow, just safe runs would make me happy.”


Robert Hight continued to show that John Force’s decision to match the president of JFR with the lead tuner Mike Neff will prove to be a tough pair to defeat. The tandem made the quickest run of the first session on Saturday where conditions should mirror tomorrow’s race day temperatures. Hight’s Auto Club Ford Mustang covered the 1000 ft. race track in 4.228 seconds at 295.40 mph. The second quickest time was Ron Capps’ 4.288 second run.


“The first run today we were low ET so that was pretty awesome and the track was really hot so that’s what we are going to be facing tomorrow so I’m definitely excited about that. We gained three more points and then tonight we really got after it trying to step up our qualifying because we kind of messed up last night,” said Hight.


In the second session as conditions improved dramatically Hight and his Neff tuned Funny Car took a shot at outrunning Cruz Pedregon’s No. 1 time of 4,073 seconds. He was unsuccessful in his bid to move to the top of the field but is confident going into his first round match-up with veteran Johnny Gray. The last time the pair matched up was the final round in Topeka.


“It shook in the last run, but last night hurt us dropping a cylinder. Tonight when it had eight cylinders it had too much power. We’re learning, but I’m definitely going in to Sunday back in the Top Ten in the standings and I tell you what, Mike Neff gives you a lot of confidence. Just the way he talks, we’re going to be fine,” said the two-time Mopar Mile High NHRA Nationals winner. “We can run like this all day long, especially when it ran that 4.22 this morning. He’s got so much confidence and that gives you confidence as a driver. It’s like we’re not going up there with our fingers crossed. We’re going up there with a plan and that plan is to win. I also want to congratulate Jimmy Prock and John Force for really stepping it up and being low ET that last session.”


Right after Hight made his final run in qualifying team leader John Force rolled the Castrol GTX Ford Mustang to the starting line. Crew Chief Jimmy Prock was also ready with an aggressive tune up and he powered the Ford Mustang Funny Car to the quickest run of the session, a solid 4.127 second run at 308.99 mph. Force picked up three qualifying bonus points and for the first time all season all four John Force Racing entries earned qualifying bonus points at the same event.


“So far, so good. We made a lot of changes with Brittany’s dragster and I think it ended up third. It went right down the race track and made a good run for Castrol EDGE, so we’re excited. We all made the show. Courtney and Robert and I are all in,” said Force. “Jimmy Prock is doing what he does and that’s tuning a race car. I’m having fun over here with Jimmy. We ran quickest of the last session with that 4.12. Tomorrow is a new day. It’s all about the dream, and if you believe in your dreams you can achieve. We’re all going to go get a good night’s rest and try our best to get a win tomorrow.”


Force will race fellow Ford driver Bob Tasca III in the first round. Tasca and Hight are locked in a tough battle for the No. 10 spot in the Funny Car standings. Hight moved around Tasca this weekend to move back into the Top Ten going into eliminations tomorrow.


As Courtney Force prepares for the first race day of the infamous “Western Swing,” her Traxxas Ford Mustang team prepares for a tough round against a higher-qualified Alexis DeJoria. Force qualified No. 13 and will give up lane choice going into Sunday’s eliminations.

 “We struggled a little bit in qualifying. I definitely think it’s tough out here and I’m being challenged as a driver, but all of the teams are. It’s a tough track and nothing like what we run all season. We had a great weekend here last year when we went to the final, so I have no doubt we can get our car just as far if not further tomorrow,” said Force, a finalist last year in Denver.


Today, the 25-year-old who just became the first female driver in the NHRA to pose for ESPN The Magazine’s “The Body Issue,” made a solid pass in the heat of the day to kick-off qualifying. She posted a 4.316 second run to move her Traxxas Ford into the No. 13 spot.


“We were on a great run. We managed to get our car down there in the heat during the third session, which is important because we’ll be running the race in the heat of the day on Sunday. I think our team is in pretty good shape for tomorrow,” said Force.


Between rounds, Force signed autographs at the Traxxas display in the midway. Force makes an appearance at the Traxxas display each Saturday throughout the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series tour. She greeted fans at her pit area before finally making her second pass to end the day.


“I struggled a little on that last qualifying pass. My team was going after a good run and I could feel that it was a good one. I let the car take me a little to the right, because that lane pulls you to the right. I let it get out a little bit and when I pulled it back it just spun the tires really bad where there were little bumps in the track. It’s a little unfortunate that we kind of missed out on that run. I was hoping to get another g
ood run in so it could move me to the top half of the field, but that’s just the way it goes. It’s the name of the game,” said Force.


Tomorrow, Force will face fellow female competitor Alexis DeJoria in the opening round. This will be the fifth time the women have met on race day. Force is currently 3-1 to DeJoria in previous events.


“We have a first round matchup against Alexis tomorrow. It’s an all-girl first round so I’m excited and we’ll see what happens,” said Force.