CHAMPIONSHIP WITHIN REACH FOR BRITTANY FORCE AND MONSTER ENERGY
ENNIS, TEXAS (October 12, 2016) — With three races left fourth year pro Brittany Force and the Monster Energy Top Fuel team are chasing their first Mello Yello Top Fuel championship. The 31st annual AAA Texas NHRA Fallnationals will be another test for the teacher turned Top Fuel racer but the Yorba Linda, California resident is up for the challenge especially coming on the heels of a strong finish two weeks ago in Pennsylvania. Force is in third place trailing Antron Brown and Doug Kalitta.
“The Reading (Pa.) win was huge for our team. Going to the final was a big step especially now that there are only three races left. Now it is all about the teams that are going to be at the top for the next few races. We didn’t get the win but we got to the final and we are going to build on that. With two races left that is what we need to keep doing, winning rounds. If we keep having success on Sunday then this championship is not out of our reach,” said Force, who has a 3-1 record in final rounds this season.
The successful run of the Monster Energy team started before the season got underway with the addition of Top Fuel consultant Alan Johnson and crew chief Brian Husen. It took that tandem along with hard work from Force two races to reach a final and then at the third race of the season Force earned her first Top Fuel win at the historic Gatornationals. From there Force has picked up two more wins and a feeling of confidence that has the lone JFR Top Fuel competitor comfortable talking about winning it all.
“I am confident in this Monster Energy team looking at these last couple of races. This is a new experience for me but I am surrounded by teammates and crew chiefs that have won championships and that gives me a lot of confidence. We have had a great season so far and I have reached a lot of my goals but I still have goals I want to achieve this season,” added Force.
This is the first time Force has been in a championship run but she is not focusing on the end game but rather taking each race one round at a time.
“I just try and not think about the pressure. My job is to just do what my crew chiefs tell me to do and not try and do anything different. This whole season has been a new experience for me and I am still learning,” explained Force. “I still get butterflies but I think everyone does when you get into situations like this. This season I have learned to just relax and focus on doing the little things. My Monster Energy teammates have been very supportive all season and we are really working well together down this last home stretch.”
Force has had a feast or famine relationship with the Texas Motorplex. In her rookie season Force raced to the second round before losing to veteran Doug Kalitta who went on to win the race. The next season Force was a surprising DNQ but bounced back last season with a strong qualifying performance going into race day as the No. 3 qualifier before being upended in the second round by Richie Crampton who also ironically went on to win the event.
MOTORPLEX VICTORY ON BUCKET LIST FOR 16-TIME CHAMP JOHN FORCE
ENNIS, TX (October 12, 2016) — John Force was won everywhere. The 146-time NHRA Funny Car national event winner has won at every NHRA sanctioned national event track and he has now won every NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event at least once. The last event on the list was the Carolina Nationals which Force this year to start the Countdown and catapult the 16-time champion into championship contention with a move from 8th to 3rd in the point standings. This weekend at the 31st annual AAA Texas NHRA Fallnationals Force will be looking to add one more win to his historic ledger driving his Advance Auto Parts/PEAK Chevrolet Camaro Funny Car.
“In 2007 when I left the track in a helicopter after my big crash my life changed. Basically it was a wake-up call that you are not Superman. It shows you what your real values on life are family and your children. Mainly the thought of not being able to race showed me how much I really loved drag racing,” said Force. “When I set goals in life of what I want to accomplish I have won every race on the circuit. I had won the four-wide at zMax Dragway but I never won the Carolina Nationals in the fall until this year. The other race that is at the top of my bucket list is to win the AAA Texas Fallnationals again in Ennis. I have won it before but not since the crash. There are a lot of memories at that track, a lot of scars, a lot of pain but it is a track that I truly do love. Who doesn’t love the great state of Texas? I have a special love for the race track there in Ennis.”
Force has won at the Ennis super-track six times at the annual fall event. In 2000 he won the short lived spring event as well as the Fallnationals. When the track opened in 1986 it was something Force and the rest of the NHRA competitors could not imagine. The facilities were nicer than any track on tour and resembled a football stadium more than a drag strip.
“I have to look back on the first time I saw the Motorplex that Billy Meyer built that was like an oasis. You drive out into the middle of nowhere and there it is. We were all pretty impressed when it was built. He built the drag racing super-track before Bruton Smith did. Over the years I have fought battle there with Cruz Pedregon for the championship in 1992 and I was crashing on the race track. I won races there over the years,” summed up Force.
With three races left Force has a tough road in front of himself if he wants to win his 17th NHRA Funny Car world championship. The drive to win has not diminished even though the past two races have been tough.
“When I race the last race of the season in Pomona I will still be racing for the championship in my mind. I may be defending it for myself or for one of my teammates. That has to be the mindset because even if you can’t win the championship you want to win that race because you want to move up as high as you can in the points. I was feeling pretty shiny coming out of Charlotte with that big win. Then all our Funny Cars nosedived in St Louis and Reading,” said Force. “I have a lot of confidence in these Chevrolet Camaros and I have said it before that we are turning the corner. I am still positive about winning this year. I know Courtney (Force) and Robert (Hight) are positive too. Maybe it will take a Hail Mary but that is what we shoot for. I shot a Hail Mary in my opening game in high school and won the game. I have watched (Aaron) Rodgers throw a Hail Mary last year to win games. I watched Tennessee in college throw a Hail Mary in the last few seconds. I know all about Hail Marys.”
After Force’s nearly devastating accident in 2007 Force spent months in at Baylor Medical Center in Dallas recuperating and starting his long rehab process. The time spent in the Lone Star State left an indelible mark on Force who has always thought of himself as somewhat of a cowboy.
“I love going to Dallas. I love all the race tracks but there is something about Ennis and maybe it is because I spent more time in Texas because I was in the hospital for two months after my crash. I reinvent myself every race,” explained Force. “Every race I have a new attitude and a different song. It is Elvis one week, then it is the Beach Boys, the next it’s Merle Haggard and then it might be Eminem. You have to find the music then I find the burnout then I find the winning. It may sound corny but that is how I do it. Everyone has their own style. My deal is to go in there guns a blazing.”
The western theme is still fresh on Force’s mind as he talks about his chance for the championship as well as the rest of his team.
“I feel I owe more of myself to this championship run. You have to have a good race car. You have to have a team that works together. We are going to take this championship Countdown to the next level. I am looking for one of us to come out of Dallas with the win and hopefully it will be me. I have to root for Courtney and Robert but I am also rooting for myself. This will be the OK Corral right to the end from Dallas to Las Vegas to Pomona. We won’t stop until we walk into the banquet and we know where we stand.”
ROBERT HIGHT TAKES AIM AT AAA TEXAS FALLNATIONALS WIN
ENNIS, TEXAS (October 12, 2016) — In 2009 Robert Hight won the AAA Texas NHRA Fallnationals on the way to his first NHRA Mello Yello Funny Car championship. This season the championship road in front of the 37-time winner looks different but the challenge will not deter Hight. Heading into the 31st annual AAA Texas NHRA Fallnationals Hight and his AAA Texas Camaro team are focused on making the right moves throughout the weekend to put themselves in position to win.
“We have won in Dallas twice but we need to win this weekend. There are three races left and I feel like we have a Funny Car that can win all three. It will be tough but we have been running really good numbers and my guys have been busting their butts since the U.S. Nationals. We blew up a race car and then brought out the back up which I think is actually a little quicker. We have made some adjustments and we are using some new parts so our performance has picked up. I think you have to just throw out Reading and focus on these last three races,” said Hight.
The fact that Hight will be racing at an event sponsored by his primary race car sponsor only adds fuel to his focus. The crewman turned race car driver and world champion looks at every race as an opportunity to succeed. In addition to success on the race track Hight is looking for some added success in the midway at the AAA Texas display.
“There isn’t any extra pressure because we have always been focused on trying to win the championship again. The only pressure is two of the last three races are sponsored by AAA Texas and the Automobile Club of Southern California. I love racing at sponsor races because I feel like you have all this extra support and people are really pulling for you to win,” said Hight. “I’ll be spending a lot of time over at the AAA Texas stage on Friday, Saturday and even some time on Sunday. They are doing a really neat promotion called Drags versus Checkered Flags and I am in a contest with Joey Logano from the NASCAR side. We are neck and neck to see which series the fans like better. I’ll be trying to get as many votes as possible from the fans at the AAA Texas Fall Nationals and then I’ll be back in Texas in November for the NASCAR race trying to get more votes there. It has been a fun promotion.”
Since Hight joined John Force Racing in the mid-90s he has been coming to the Texas Motorplex every year as either a crewman or a competitor. The luster of the first super-track is not lost on Hight.
“The Texas Motorplex is the first super track. Billy Meyer was a Funny Car racer so I think this track is built for Funny Car performance with the all-concrete race track. It might be a little warm but this track can handle a lot of horsepower. If the conditions hold up I think you could for sure see some track records and possibly national records. This championship will be in play every round of qualifying. In St. Louis we got qualifying bonus points every round of qualifying and we need to start doing that again here in Ennis. These next three races will be about focusing on the little things and just going out and not making mistakes.”
So far this season Hight has a win at the historic Gatornationals and a runner-up finish to teammate Courtney Force in the $100,000 to win Traxxas Shootout. Every season of Hight’s career that started in 2005 he was won at least two NHRA national events. No other driver has ever started their career with an impressive streak like that. There are three more opportunities for Hight to add to the win total and possibly his championship trophy case.
FOCUSED ON WINNING NHRA STAR COURTNEY FORCE GOES PINK IN DALLAS
ENNIS, TEXAS (October 12, 2016) — The Traxxas Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car that has already powered Courtney Force to a national event win and the $100,000 top prize in the Traxxas Shootout this season is once again getting a make-over. This weekend at the 31st annual AAA Texas NHRA Fallnationals Force will be joining a number of her NHRA competitors with a pink race car to bring awareness to breast cancer treatment and prevention. Force along with her sister Brittany will also be participating in a track walk on Sunday morning with fans as they walk down the famed Texas Motorplex race track.
“I am so thrilled to debut the new colors of our Traxxas Chevy Camaro body and this is my favorite one of the season. We will be running a pink breast cancer awareness scheme starting at Traxxas’ home track in Dallas. I think the fans will love this pink version that Traxxas designed, because it is so different from any of our other pink bodies in the past. We will run these colors for the rest of the season, along with the pink ribbon,” explained Force. “I hope this Funny Car body is a reminder that we still need to help bring awareness and find a cure for breast cancer. This pink car can be a reminder to those that are battling breast cancer and those who are survivors. We are all fighting together to search for a cure and I hope by running these colors, those who are currently battling feel a little bit stronger and confident knowing they are not alone.”
Confidence has not been a problem for Force this season. The fifth year driver has raced to eight semifinal rounds with a win and two runner-up finishes. For most of the season the youngest daughter of legendary driver John Force was near the top of the point standings and putting pressure on the leading Funny Cars. After her win in Houston Force led the points for a number of races. Unfortunately for Force the Traxxas Shootout win which handed the 2012 Rookie of the Year a check for $100,000 has been the highlight since Labor Day. There are three races left in the season and Force’s focus is on adding to the win total and winning her first Funny Car championship.
“We all have one goal with our team at John Force Racing and that is to have someone win that Funny Car championship. Right now I am not in the best position but I am sure going to give it all I have. I am still going for it because all our teams still have a shot. It definitely helps when you can share information with each other. We are focused on getting that championship for Traxxas,” said Force.
“Going into the third to the last race of the season this is one of the most important races for our Traxxas Chevrolet Camaro team. This race will most likely be our last shot to stay in contention for the championship. We realize that and we are going to handle that pressure as best we can. If we want to make a difference in this Countdown we are going to need to perform this weekend. Since the Countdown started we have been struggling and we haven’t been doing as well as we would have liked. We haven’t been going rounds and it has really hurt us. We have shuffled down the point standings when all season long we were in a great position.”
In addition to the thrill of winning the Fallnationals for a second time Force will be looking to impress her home-town based sponsors Traxxas, the Fastest Name in Radio Control, as well as AAA Texas which has involvement with all the JFR race cars.
“This is an important race for us for the Mello Yello Funny Car championship but also because it is the home track for our sponsor Traxxas. There are a lot of people from Traxxas coming out and we want to really show them what we can do. We want to give them a good race because I know everybody from Traxxas headquarters will be watching and cheering us on. We want to keep showing them what our team is capable of. We have won at this track before and we will just have to try and do it again.”
Force’s win at the AAA Texas NHRA Fallnationals in 2014 was one of two that Force picked up in the Countdown that season. A streak of wins starting in Dallas this weekend is what Force needs to jump to the top of the Mello Yello standings. Luckily, Force feels a certain level of comfort at the north Texas super-track.
“Knowing that you have won on a particular track definitely helps you feel a little more comfortable. This has been a pretty good track to me and my team. I definitely feel more confident going in but at the same time every race is different. You really just need to be able to perform throughout qualifying and then on race day.”