After grabbing her third No. 1 qualifier of her career, Courtney Force wrapped up the weekend today with her second career win and first at the season-opening 53nd annual O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway. She defeated Ron Capps in the final round of eliminations and ran the quickest pass of the weekend a 4.025 second run.
“It was definitely pretty unbelievable. My team, Ron Douglas and Dan Hood, thanks to them. They’ve given me a great race car all weekend long; a consistent one, running 4.0s. I just try to keep it straight down the center. They really made my job easy. I really owe it to those guys,” said the 24-year-old from Yorba Linda, Calif.
Force is the fourth person to qualify No. 1 and go on to win the Winternationals in the last 25 years. She drove her Traxxas Mustang around Phil Burkart, Jr., current Funny Car Champion Matt Hagan, and Bob Tasca III to get to the final round.
In the finals Force squared off against Ron Capps. She’d lost the luxury of lane choice and had to start from the more difficult right lane. But it wasn’t enough to hold her back. She threw down the fastest ET of the weekend, running a 4.025 at 317.12 MPH and taking the win light.
“That right lane for some reason has been tough for me this weekend. We spun the tires down there. We found a little bump in the road. But getting it down there and running a 4.02 in what was considered the bad lane, for me that was unbelievable. Ron Douglas just knows how to tune this car and I think we have a pretty bad hot rod going into Phoenix. I’m excited to see what we’re capable of doing.”
“Going against Capps I was honestly terrified. I knew the last time I ran him it was out here in the finals and I knew he wanted revenge. He was running well all weekend. He got lane choice over me and it definitely made me nervous. He’s a tough competitor,” said Force. “Going down there my car was flying. It got over to the centerline and I just held onto it because I didn’t know, I thought maybe he was right out my window. I wasn’t looking over in his lane, I was just paying attention to my own, trying to keep it straight and get past the finish line to get that win and was able to get the job done. I’m excited it was definitely a tough round not knowing where he was on the track, but we were able to do it.”
By winning the first event of the season, Force also now occupies a spot on the board reserved for the first driver entered into the Traxxas Nitro Shootout that will be held in Indy at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals. Last year, Force won the fan vote and was entered into the bonus race.
“Making it into the Traxxas Shootout, I think that’s the coolest thing here at my home track, being the first one on that list, you know my dad won the Winternationals last year and it’s pretty cool. It was kind of a bittersweet finish here in the final not getting that win and coming back and picking up where we left off and finishing our job. We got the win, got in the winner’s circle and I’m Just proud of my team.”
Courtney and the rest of the John Force Racing team are now headed for Phoenix and the 29th annual NHRA Arizona Nationals at Firebird International Raceway. Come join them and the Traxxas crew for a weekend of high horsepower fun!