Courtney Force breaks track records, takes provisional No. 1 during Friday qualifying for Arizona Nationals

Courtney Force breaks track records, takes provisional
No. 1 during Friday qualifying for Arizona Nationals

CHANDLER, Ariz. (Feb. 24) – Courtney Force came back to Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park on Friday seeking another solid performance in her Advance Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro SS, just weeks after making a run under Funny Car national record.

And her return to the track was nearly as impressive.

Force broke the track’s elapsed time and speed records during the opening session of qualifying for Sunday’s NHRA Arizona Nationals with a pass of 3.838 seconds at 332.67 mph.

That time was just .001 seconds faster than Matt Hagan (3.839 seconds at 329.67 mph), whom she faced in the final of the season-opening Circle K NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Speedway in Pomona.

During Force’s second qualifying run, she smoked the tires and timed in a little over eight seconds.

“I’m glad (the track-record pass) happened on the first run,” Force said. “It definitely allows you to push the car harder when you can make a solid pass and get secure in the field. It’s that first run of the weekend that you’re always the most nervous about, so for our Advance Auto Parts team coming back to a track where we ran killer numbers during testing, that’s going to be our goal to try to do it again this weekend.”

Force was quickest in the preseason test at Wild Horse Pass, with a time of 3.804 seconds at 333.33 mph. She is hopeful in officially breaking the mark at some point this weekend, and said Friday’s run was a step in that direction.

“I obviously would love to make that number real,” Force said. “It’s been in the back of my mind, and I would be pretty bummed if we left this weekend without securing it. It’s pretty dang close and we’re going to keep pushing it.

“After running a number like that in testing, I’m sure a lot of people are expecting our Advance Auto Parts Chevy to run that number again. That’s what we expect, too. That’s the whole reason we are out here pushing the car, trying to replicate what we did in testing and see if we can keep this Chevy Camaro running consistently.”

Teammate Robert Hight, in the Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro SS, was seventh quickest, turning in a time of 3.897 seconds at 325.45 mph during his second qualifying run. And Force’s father, team owner John Force, was 11th in the PEAK Coolant and Motor Oil/Republic Services Chevrolet Camaro SS, with a time of 3.941 seconds at 313.15 mph.

In the Top Fuel category, Brittany Force was unable to post a solid time in her Monster Energy Top Fuel dragster, her best a 6.377-second pass at 93.04 mph in the first round.