MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES
ADVANCE AUTO PARTS CLASH
DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY NOTES AND QUOTES
FEBRUARY 18, 2017
COURTNEY FORCE, DRIVER OF THE ADVANCE AUTO PARTS CHEVROLET CAMARO SS IN THE NHRA DRAG RACING FUNNY CAR DIVISION, will serve as the honorary pace car driver for the Advance Auto Parts Clash at Daytona. Prior to fulfilling her duties as pace car driver, she met with members of the media. Full Transcript:
TALK ABOUT SERVING AS THE PACE CAR DRIVER:
“I’m so thrilled to be here, this is amazing to be here in Daytona. I got to take a couple of laps in the pace car. A little nerve racking obviously, I’m used to a flat, straight track that goes 0-1000 feet in just four seconds. Totally different type of racing for me, but obviously, I’m going a lot slower. It’s really cool. I’m totally not used to the banking here. It’s a lot steeper than it looks for the people that see it from the outside. It was really cool to kind of be on the track and experience that. I’m obviously hoping to not screw up and be able to follow the lines. I got a little advice from (Dale Earnhardt) Junior. He said some people might bump me, so I’m going to watch and make sure I don’t get into too much trouble. I’m really excited to be here. This will probably be the only time I can ever say that there are all those legends of NASCAR in my rear-view mirror. I’m really excited to say that. Just honored to be here with Advance Auto Parts. This is an honor for me and a little bit different from what I do. Hopefully, everything goes well.”
HAVE YOU EVER ENTERTAINED ANY THOUGHTS ABOUT DOING ANY KIND OF MAYBE ROAD RACING, OVAL RACING, ANYTHING BEYOND DRAG RACING?
“Well, obviously, I grew up in the sport of NHRA drag racing, so for me that is all I have ever known and kind of lived in a drag racing bubble. I knew about NASCAR and came to races with my Dad when I was a kid. So, it’s really cool to be here and to actually say that I’m going to be in the pace car is pretty surreal. It’s a totally different type of racing, obviously, I think it’s something you kind of have to be around and grow up in to know how to do. People ask me that question a lot because my husband races in IndyCar, so they always are asking ‘are we going to do a ride swap’, but you know I might be a racecar driver, but you can’t just throw me in whatever and expect me to know how everything goes. I’m learning, but I think it would be cool to do it for a time or two, but I think starting in the pace car is probably best.”
TALK ABOUT BRAND IDENTITY AND HOW IMPORTANT IT IS TO THE SPORT OF NHRA AND HOW IMPORTANT IT HAS BEEN, ESPECIALLY THE BACKING THAT THE MANUFACTURER’S GIVE YOU:
“We wouldn’t be doing what we do without the sponsors and their backing and their support. Having Advance Auto Parts come on board with my Chevrolet this season was huge for me. I was with Traxxas for five years before that and wouldn’t be out here racing if it wasn’t for Advance coming on board. And then same goes for Chevrolet. They are fully involved in, obviously, I drive a Chevy Camaro SS body on the track and they were fully involved in the development of that and working with everyone at John Force Racing, our engineers and their group kind of teaming up together to build the perfect race car. I think we’ve kind of proven what a Chevy Camaro is capable of doing on and off the track. I got to race the Camaro ZL1 and make some smoke on the race track over the off-season and then came to testing at Firebird Raceway (Chandler, Arizona) and went 3.804 seconds/333 mph which was an unofficial national ET record. It is pretty cool to kind of kick-off the season on a positive note from the off-season. Looking forward to it, but sponsors are the reason why we all get to do what we love and the fact that I have a sponsor that is not only involved in NHRA, but involved in so many other types of motorsports, like here in NASCAR, heading the Advance Auto Parts Clash and for me to be able to have all these doors open up and these opportunities because of that sponsor is a huge deal for me and a cool way to integrate both NASCAR and NHRA and kind of cross paths.”
WHAT WAS IT LIKE THE FIRST TIME YOU BEAT YOUR DAD? WHAT DID HE SAY TO YOU?
“I’ve got to be careful he is sitting in the back there. You know that was probably the proudest moment I’ve ever had for myself was beating my Dad. Because he doesn’t take it easy on me. All last season was rough for me. He beat me, I think, four out of the five times I raced him, maybe even every time last season. But, I just raced him this past weekend and finally got my revenge on him. It’s pretty cool. I beat him in the semi-final round and went on to the final round of the race. Almost took home the win, but you know it’s fun. He taught me everything I know about racing and to be able to kind of know his routine on the starting line, know how he likes to drive his race car and then to be able to kind of use it against him is a lot of fun for me. It’s bitter-sweet at the end of the day because obviously, like I said, he taught me everything I know. When you have to send your Dad home and have him pack his bags when he is the one that really gave me this opportunity to drive one of these cars, it is bitter-sweet. But, I think it is still fun. We pick on each other. He always pretends he has no idea he is racing me. ‘Oh, who do you got next round?’ I’m like ‘you, but okay thanks.’ We have fun with it. I wouldn’t want it any other way. I don’t think there are a lot of people that have opportunities to race with family. My sister races a Top Fuel dragster and then to be able to compete against Dad is a lot of fun. I wouldn’t want it any other way.”
HOW HAS YOUR SUCCESS AND YOUR HUSBAND GRAHAM RAHAL’S SUCCESS KEPT EVERYTHING HAPPY AT HOME?
“Winning races and being in a relationship definitely is a good thing. It keeps you positive. We both went through some rough seasons before we got married and it was due to our racing seasons. Yeah, that is our rough patch (laughs). It definitely feels good to have him have such a great season last year and then I came off of a great season too. I finished sixth in the points. It is always a good thing when you can come out of a race and do well at. He was at my race supporting me and I have to try my best to go to as many as I can of his as well.”
WHEN YOU THINK BACK TO FONTANA (INDYCAR) ARE THERE MOMENTS FROM THAT RACE THAT YOU COULDN’T WATCH?
“A lot of moments. I wanted to die. I was so nervous. I was literally on this roof-top deck spinning around in circles trying to follow his racecar. That race was so close. I mean I was just panicked every step of the way. I’m not used to being a spectator and it’s definitely different for me to kind of stand back and just enjoy watching a race because I like to be in control of the car, be out there competing. But, also, having someone you love in it is a little bit different. It is weird to know what my Mom goes through watching all of this.”
WHAT DO YOU SEE AS YOUR FUTURE SAY FIVE YEARS FROM NOW? AS A DRAG RACER, YOU ARE OUT HERE IN THE SAME TRAFFIC THE REST OF US ARE IN ON THE ROADS. ARE YOU OFTEN TEMPTED TO SPEED EVERYBODY OUT WHEN THE LIGHT TURNS GREEN?
“(Laughs). I flinch a little bit every time the light turns green. I’m always yelling at Graham ‘go’, like you are just sitting here. He is like ‘it just turned green’. I’m like ‘no, it turned green a little bit ago’. It’s part of what we do and if you want to win races… races are won and lost on the starting line. You have to learn how to have great reaction times, but I love what I do. Obviously, signing on a new sponsor I hope to be doing this for a long time and loving every bit of it. Our goal this season for our team is to go after that championship. That is something I’ve got on my mind constantly.”