Courtney Force to start No. 2 in Sunday’s Arizona Nationals, seeks consistent Advance Auto Parts Chevrolet
CHANDLER, Ariz. (Feb. 25) – Courtney Force and her Advance Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro SS team were oh, so close to earning the No. 1 Funny Car qualifying position for Sunday’s NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park, the second round of the 2017 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season.
Instead, the Yorba Linda, Calif., driver will start No. 2, standing on her qualifying effort from Friday’s first session. The track record of 3.838 seconds (at 332.67 mph) she set Friday was eclipsed late in the fourth round of qualifying by Tommy Johnson Jr. and his 3.837-second record run, putting her No. 2 for the third consecutive season at Phoenix.
Her first-round matchup will be against Jim Campbell, whom she will now face for the third consecutive race in the first round. Force is 4-0 all-time against Campbell, with every victory coming in a first-round matchup. Both drivers suffered slight misfortunes in their last matchup – in the season-opening Circle K NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona – but Force pulled it together and took the victory.
“I don’t think we’re going to get lucky like we did in Pomona,” Force said, “so we’re going to have to be good tomorrow and get this race car back to how we usually are.”
Force emphasized that a consistent car is a key element in vying for Sunday’s race victory.
“I’m still feeling good about where we qualified, and still very happy that our Advance Auto Parts team is going into race day No. 2 in qualifying,” Force said. “We’ve got a consistent car, a great team, great crew chiefs behind us, and I believe throughout qualifying we learned a lot about this race car.
“I made two really good passes with it – obviously with the 3.83 and then the 3.85,” Force added. “It’s going to be cooler conditions tomorrow, so that’s going to change a few things. I’m looking forward to race day. It’s going to be back out here in Phoenix. We still have that 3.80 in the back of our heads from testing (at Wild Horse Pass) a few weeks ago, so it’d be really cool if we could do it again on race day. But more important than anything, we’re looking for a consistent race car to get us through the day and end up in the winner’s circle.”
Force’s Funny Car teammate Robert Hight earned the No. 9 spot, while father and team owner John Force is No. 12. Brittany Force, in the Monster Energy Top Fuel dragster, qualified No. 7.