Monster Energy driver Brittany Force surges into
Top Fuel title contention with Reading victory
READING, Pa. (Sept. 24) – Monster Energy driver Brittany Force served notice that she is a championship contender by storming by two past champions and the current Top Fuel points leader in winning the NHRA Nationals on Sunday at Maple Grove Raceway.
Force moved up to third in the Countdown to the Championship standings, one point out of second and 23 behind leader Steve Torrence.
Torrence – who has a class-leading seven victories in 2017 – was Force’s final victim Sunday. Before Torrence, Force took down Wayne Newby in the first round, eight-time champion Tony Schumacher in the second round and three-time champion Antron Brown in the semifinals.
“Looking at it, we did not have an easy ladder,” Force said. “It was tough all day long and the Monster team killed it all day long. We turned a corner at the right time and we’re right in the Countdown picture.
“This is a huge win for us. This team had to fight all day long and I’m so proud of them. They are the best team to work with, and I’m so pumped going into the Countdown to work with them. This Monster team, we’re going after the championship.”
Reading marked the second of six Countdown races, and Force and her team have performed well in each. She raced to the semifinals in Charlotte before winning here.
Force eradicated some demons here in Reading, as she’d been to the final twice before without winning. She lost to Brown in the final last year and to Schumacher in the final in 2014. Force has now been to three finals in five races in Reading, winning once. Reading was her fifth career victory and second of 2017.
“Anything can change each weekend,” Force said. “If we keep hanging around the way we have been, with the semifinals last weekend and winning this weekend, we could keep moving up and go after the championship. That’s our plan.”
Force was a model of consistency this weekend, making four passes in qualifying of 3.75 seconds or better. That continued into eliminations, as she dispatched Newby with a race-best 3.727-second pass at 329.91 mph in the first round.
She then was quickest in the second round (3.743 seconds at 330.47 mph) to beat Schumacher before catching a small break in the semifinals. Force had trouble in the lights and slowed to a pass of 3.905 seconds at 255.10 mph, but Brown went up in smoke at the hit as Force went to the final round.
There, her pass of 3.756 seconds at 326.24 mph easily out-ran Torrence’s 3.857-second run at 258.76 mph.
Force and her Monster Energy team return for the AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals this weekend at Gateway Motorsports Park.
Best Qualifying Effort: 3.730 seconds/325.85 mph (Round 4; Qualified No. 4)
Elimination Round 1 (Left Lane): 3.727 seconds/329.91 mph (RT – .086 seconds), def. No. 13 Wayne Newby, 9.483 seconds/85.00 mph (RT – .067 seconds); left second but had the lead by 60 feet and drove away as Newby experienced problems early … second quickest elapsed time of the round and fastest speed of round; vs. Newby – now 2-0 all-time; 2-0 this season; 1-0 at Reading
Elimination Round 2 (Quarterfinals, Right Lane): 3.743 seconds/330.47 mph (RT – .077 seconds), def. No. 5 Tony Schumacher, 3.873 seconds/311.49 mph (RT – .066 seconds); fell behind at the start but was ahead by 100 feet and never looked back for her second consecutive semifinals; vs. Schumacher – now 6-8 all-time; 2-2 this season; 1-2 at Reading
Elimination Round 3 (Semifinals, Left Lane): 3.905 seconds/255.10 mph (RT – .078 seconds), def. No. 8 Antron Brown, 9.803 seconds/84.16 mph (RT – .050 seconds); fell behind at the tree but rushed ahead by 60 feet as Brown’s car went up in smoke; vs. Brown – now 5-11 all-time; 3-3 this season; 1-1 at Reading
Elimination Round (Finals, Left Lane): 3.756 seconds/326.24 mph (RT – .068 seconds), def. No. 3 Steve Torrence, 3.857 seconds/258.76 mph; best reaction time of her four elimination rounds, and chased Torrence down and passed him after his car slowed at the eighth-mile mark; vs. Torrence – now 5-6 all-time; 2-4 this season; 1-0 at Reading; 1-0 in finals
Now 116-107 (223 rounds) all-time in elimination rounds (.520)
Now 18-12 (30 rounds) all-time in elimination rounds after qualifying No. 4 (.600)
Now 12-4 (16 rounds) all-time in elimination rounds at Reading (.750)
Now 29-18 (47 rounds) this season in elimination rounds (.617)
Top Fuel Points Standings: 1. Steve Torrence 2259; 2. Doug Kalitta 2237; 3. Brittany Force 2236; 4. Antron Brown 2208; 5. Tony Schumacher 2174.