The first-round woes continued for Courtney Force’s Traxxas Ford Mustang. The second-year driver was upset by veteran Del Worsham in the opening session. Force grabbed bonus points in the first qualifying session as the quickest Funny Car and then made a solid pass on Friday night. In the opening session on Saturday, her Traxxas Ford Mustang uncharacteristically smoked the tires as she was pulling away from Worsham.
“It is tough to get back into the groove of racing when you don’t get a full race. Only having two qualifying sessions is tough on everybody. We made two great passes in qualifying and picked up some qualifying bonus points,” said Force.
“We were in the top half of the field. We just struggled getting this Traxxas Ford Mustang down the lane in the first round. I am ready to get to a race where I can get some more seat time. This is still just my second year, so that seat time is important. I can learn more about the track when I get more runs in qualifying. I am looking forward to getting four qualifying passes in Topeka and going rounds on Sunday there.”
For rookie-of-the-year candidate Brittany Force, the loss of half of the qualifying runs was a setback but added to the drama for the Castrol EDGE dragster team. For a few minutes in the final session, Force was on the outside looking in, but like a racer beyond her years, she focused and raced into the show for the sixth time this season. In her two qualifying runs yesterday, Force posted a quick enough time to qualify No. 9 and face veteran Clay Millican. Force outran the Parts Plus dragster to earn her second round win of the season, 3.892 to 3.937.
“Getting that win in the first round was exactly what this Castrol EDGE team needed. Coming from Houston where we didn’t qualify and being able to get in the show this weekend was big. We were the No. 9 qualifier after only two qualifying passes, so we were happy about that,” said Force.
In the second round, she was faced with racing the No. 1 qualifier Shawn Langdon. The pair came up through the Lucas Oil sportsman ranks together, racing in Super Comp beginning in 2006. It took a near track record run by Langdon, 3.791 seconds, to trailer Brittany Force and advance to the semi-finals.
John Force came out of the box with a strong run in the first session of qualifying on Friday. At the end of the lone qualifying day, he was also No. 9 qualifier like his daughter in Top Fuel and like her, won in the first round on Sunday.
Force was on the receiving end of a lucky break when rookie driver Chad Head inadvertently rolled the lights, triggering a red-light start and handing the win to the 15-time champion. This was the first time Force had ever faced Head in eliminations, and he was pleased to see how Head was establishing himself in a tough Funny Car category.
“Chad Head is a good racer. His dad (Jim Head) is a good tuner. That Funny Car has been tough all year. They put up great numbers and we were lucky to get that round win. Sometimes that is what you need,” said Force.
Force’s luck ran out in the second round when he faced No. 1 qualifier and 2011 Funny Car champion Matt Hagan. Force was able to move up in the Mello Yello point standings and he is only three points out of the Top Ten. As Force was staging, he took a moment to adjust his position in the Castrol GTX Ford Mustang just as Hagan was rolling his Magnetti Marelli Dodge into the stage beams. When Force realized he was on the clock, he jumped in and staged his Ford Mustang, recording he best reaction time of the weekend—a strong .043 seconds. However, that was not enough to outrun the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals finalist.
Robert Hight and the Auto Club Ford Mustang were not able to capture the magic that propelled them to the final round last season at the NHRA Southern Nationals. A dropped cylinder ended his day early against eventual winner Johnny Gray. This was the second race in a row that Hight had fallen to Gray in the first round. Prior to these two races, Hight had a commanding 9-4 career record against Gray. Unfortunately, Hight is 3-5 versus Gray in first rounds now. In all other rounds, Hight has a dominating 6-1 record, including a 3-0 final round record.
The John Force Racing team is looking forward to getting a full weekend of racing this weekend in Topeka and going rounds on Sunday. With seven events of the 2013 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series completed, the drivers look to improve their positions in the points standings where Courtney leads the way in sixth place.