Seeking consistency, Advance Auto Parts driver
Courtney Force makes run to Seattle semifinals
SEATTLE (Aug. 6) – Little by little, Courtney Force and the Advance Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro SS team are finding consistency as the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season nears an important segment.
Force took her car to the semifinals of Sunday’s NHRA Northwest Nationals at Pacific Raceways, coming up short in the third round. Force, the No. 4 qualifier, recorded elimination-round victories against former Funny Car champions Cruz Pedregon and Jack Beckman before falling to another titlist, teammate and eventual race winner Robert Hight. It was the second time in three races Force made the semis.
“I’m really excited,” Force said. “Our Advance Auto Parts team found a little bit more consistency on race day when it really counted.”
Force’s performance Sunday helped her clinched a berth in the Countdown to the Championship, which is made up of the final six races of the season. The top 10 in the points standings at the conclusion of the regular season race for the title.
Force struggled in qualifying – twice spinning tires and another time dropping a cylinder – but made up for it on race day. She sailed past Pedregon – whose car broke at the green – and never looked back to earn her quickest pass of the weekend at 3.919 seconds at 327.19 mph.
Against Beckman, Force trailed at the light and was slightly behind until the 660-foot mark, when she whisked by at a time of 3.937 seconds at 323.50 mph, winning despite the car shutting off early.
“I’m really thrilled we went out there and ran some consistent .90s to get us to the semifinal round,” Force said. “Taking out Cruz in the first round with a 3.91 and then having to race Beckman with a 3.95, where I actually shut off a little bit early right at the finish line, but still an awesome run for our Chevy Camaro team.”
Force’s victory against Beckman matched her up with Hight, who raced the quickest car of the weekend in almost every session – qualifying and elimination rounds. Hight got the jump and the win at 3.905 seconds at 323.66 mph, while Force put together another strong run for 3.939 seconds at 325.69 mph.
“We knew going up against Robert that his car has been flying throughout the Western Swing, so we had to bring it all to the table,” Force said. “We definitely gave him a good run. All in all, not a bad weekend. I’m really proud of my team, and it’s a great way to finish off the Western Swing.”
The next stop on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule is the NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway in Minnesota.
Best Qualifying Effort: 3.943 seconds/325.14 mph (Round 4, Qualified No. 4)
Elimination Round 1 (Left Lane): 3.919 seconds/327.19 mph, def. No. 13 Cruz Pedregon, 17.596 seconds/54.30 mph; bests qualifying time with strong pass while Pedregon left then slowed; vs. Pedregon – now 7-6 all-time; 1-0 this season; 2-0 at Seattle
Elimination Round 2 (Quarterfinals, Left Lane): 3.937 seconds/323.50 mph, def. No. 5 Jack Beckman, fell behind at the light but steadily came back and took the lead after the 660-foot mark despite car shutting off early; vs. Beckman – now 8-9 all-time; 1-2 this season; 1-0 at Seattle
Elimination Round 3 (Semifinals, Right Lane): 3.939 seconds/325.69 mph, lost to No. 1 Robert Hight, 3.905 seconds/323.66 mph; strong pass to show more consistency, but not enough to stay with Hight at the finish; vs. Hight – now 8-13 all-time; 0-3 this season; 0-1 at Seattle
Now 148-126 (274 rounds) all-time in elimination rounds (.540)
Now 24-16 (40 rounds) all-time in elimination rounds after qualifying No. 4 (.600)
Now 8-5 (13 rounds) all-time in elimination rounds at Pacific Raceways (.615)
Now 16-15 (31 rounds) this season in elimination rounds (.516)
Funny Car points standings: 1. Ron Capps 1,330; 2. Matt Hagan 1,172; 3. Robert Hight 1,164; 4. Jack Beckman 1,104; 5. Tommy Johnson Jr. 1,081; 6. Courtney Force 951; 7. John Force 877.