Courtney Force seeks initial title as 2017 begins for
Advance Auto Parts Funny Car driver
POMONA, Calif. (Feb. 8) – Courtney Force put her fellow NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Funny Car competitors on notice last week that she intends to be a solid contender in this year’s championship fight.
Force heads into this weekend’s season-opener, the Circle K NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Speedway at Pomona, with a wave of momentum. She posted the top three fastest times during the Nitro Spring Training test last weekend at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in Phoenix. During the test, she clocked a time of 3.804 seconds in her Advance Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro SS, unofficially the quickest elapsed time in history.
That should serve as a warning to others that Force is prepared to improve on last year’s sixth-place result in the points standings. Much of her team from last year – including crew chief Daniel Hood and co-crew chief Ronnie Thompson – returns intact, which Force said is important to challenging for victories and the title.
“Based on what we’ve seen at Phoenix during the test, and coming off last season, I think that we’ve definitely got into a pretty good rhythm, and now we’re looking to challenge in 2017,” Force said. “We’re obviously gunning for that championship, just like everybody else out here, and I think I’ve got a great team and a great race car that’s ready to go after it.”
Force has already shown well in five previous Winternationals. She won the 2013 event from the No. 1 qualifying spot – the only time she has reached the finals in this race – and has qualified No. 1 twice.
“We’ve won the Winternationals before, so we’re hoping to go out and do it again,” Force said. “Obviously, we want to start the season off strong, and impress our new sponsor, Advance Auto Parts. I think we have a great race car, one that is capable of winning. We’ll see how we do at Pomona, but looking forward to the whole 2017 season.”
The season-opening and 58th annual Circle K Winternationals at Auto Club Speedway begins Friday, with the first two rounds of qualifications. Qualifying continues Saturday, while elimination rounds take place Sunday. . FOX will televise three hours of live eliminations coverage at 1 p.m. Pacific.
-Advance Auto Parts is the new primary sponsor on Force’s car this season.
-Force has competed in five previous Winternationals – all since 2012.
-Force has one victory and is 7-4 in elimination rounds during the Winternationals. At Pomona, she has one victory and is 12-9 in elimination rounds.
-In her career, Force has competed in 119 races, and has totaled eight victories and 131 round wins.
-Force has been the No. 1 qualifier for the Winternationals twice – in 2013 and 2015.
-John Force Racing has been the No. 1 qualifier in four of the last five Winternationals.
-Force has won her first-round matchup in the Winternationals four times in five races.
-Force has won each of her last three elimination round matchups, dating back to last season. She started the 2016 season with nine consecutive first-round elimination round victories.
-Force’s 3.804-second pass during Nitro Spring Training testing was .018 seconds faster than Matt Hagan’s all-time Funny Car mark (3.822 seconds), set last year during the race at Brainerd, Minn.