Despite Courtney Force’s outstanding performance at the O’Reilly NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, Calif. for the first race of the season and her team’s No. 3 qualifying effort this weekend, the 2012 Rookie of the Year exited the show in the first round of eliminations.
Force made her best pass of the weekend on Friday to go to the top of the Funny Car field before slipping to the No. 3 position going into race day. She made a 4.064 second run at 315.71 mph, a track speed record, and picked up a total of 5 qualifying bonus points before Sunday.
In the first round of eliminations, Force faced Todd Lesenko and lost when her Traxxas Ford Mustang Funny Car smoked the tires right off the starting line. This was Force first loss to the Canadian whom she had defeated in three previous meetings.
“We were qualified good. It’s definitely a tricky racetrack. Man, you know things happen. We stumbled in the first round. We were a little surprised, but we learned something from it. It blew the tires off, I pedaled it and I couldn’t get around him. Congratulations to Lesenko and his team. We’re going to just have to get after it in Gainesville,” said Force.
John Force faired better in the eliminations, reaching the semi finals before losing to Matt Hagan. Hagan put Force in the suspect left lane and bucking the odds Force and his Mike Neff tuned Castrol GTX Mustang were able to post a solid run of 4.105 seconds. Unfortunately Hagan was in the right lane running 4.049. Force’s Funny Car actually was a little quicker than the scoreboard reflected.
“That last run I cheated the light a little, it probably ran 4.04 again. If you want to have a chance to win you have to get qualified. We gave everyone a chance when we got all four of our hot rods in the show. That is what is important. Robert Hight is still struggling. My Castrol GTX Mustang ran pretty good. We ran 4.04 in the first round and I have a car I can race with. (Crew chief) Mike Neff and (asst. crew chief) Jon Schaffer are doing real good. We are going to stay and test with Robert Hight. We’ll see what we can do with that. Brittany is learning every time she goes rounds and Courtney just missed in the first round. She had the hot Funny Car all weekend.”