3-for-4: Advance Auto Parts driver Courtney Force heads into Sunday’s Four-Wide Nationals with 3rd straight No. 1

3-for-4: Advance Auto Parts driver Courtney Force heads into Sunday’s Four-Wide Nationals with 3rd straight No. 1

Photo credit: Gary Nastase and Auto Imagery

CONCORD, N.C. (April 29) – Good things tend to come in threes.

For Courtney Force and the Advance Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro SS team, they enter Sunday’s Four-Wide Nationals at zMAX Dragway with their third consecutive No. 1 Funny Car qualifying position.

Force led a JFR 1-2-3 – the team’s first in nearly three years – with teammate Robert Hight No. 2 and father and team owner John Force No. 3.

The sixth race of the 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season, the eighth annual Four-Wide Nationals, begins at noon Eastern Sunday.

On Sunday, she’s hoping to go three rounds. And in the third round, beat three competitors. For now, though, it’s all about concentrating on the first round and the three competitors she faces – No. 8 J.R. Todd, No. 9 Bob Tasca III and No. 16 Jonnie Lindberg. All while maintaining a time somewhere in the three-second time range.

“We are pushing the car to see what it will do in the heat, but at the same time we had to figure out our set up for race day tomorrow,” said Force, whose other two No. 1 qualifying efforts came at Las Vegas and Houston. “I am really proud of my guys and everyone that is a part of this Advance Auto Parts team, and it’s a cool feeling grabbing the top spot. But our goal tomorrow is to go rounds and pick up those points.”

For Force, it was her 13th career No. 1 and second for the Four-Wide Nationals; she also set quick elapsed time in 2015. Her pass of 3.851 seconds at 323.27 mph came in Friday’s second qualifying session.

In Saturday’s two sessions, she made passes of 5.736 seconds at 120.32 mph in Lane 2 and 3.928 seconds at 318.39 mph. The final pass was second-quickest of Saturday’s runs, with only Hight quicker at 3.925 seconds at 324.83 mph.

“Our run to go to the top spot was Q2, but to go out there Q4, we actually wanted to slow our car down a little bit because it overpowered the track a little bit in Q3,” said Force, competing in her 125th Funny Car race Sunday and seeking her first finals appearance in the unique race. “Our incremental times were on a spectacular run, so it’s really cool to kind of look at that and know what we were trying for, but unfortunately right about the eighth mile it just started shaking real hard. We just overpowered it. We came back and regrouped, and we still tried to do a similar setup because we cooled it off a little bit and had a little bit more cloud cover.

“It’s really cool to be at the home track for Advance Auto Parts and I am really excited that we were able to keep that No. 1 spot,” she added.

This marked the first 1-2-3 for JFR since the 2014 race at Heartland Park Topeka in Kansas, with Courtney and John Force first and second, respectively, and Hight third. Courtney Force went on to win the race, sweeping No. 1, low elapsed time and highest speed of the event.

It was also JFR’s fourth straight No. 1, the most in succession since John Force scored fifth consecutive No. 1s – three to conclude the 2013 season and two to open the 2014 campaign.

Final eliminations begin at noon Eastern on Sunday. Fox Sports 1 will televise three hours of coverage starting at 5:30 p.m.