Courtney Force’s Traxxas Ford Mustang team, part of the four-car John Force Racing operation, has rolled out of Brownsburg, Indiana and is making the 26-hour trek to Las Vegas this week. The driver will be wrapping up media obligations in Yorba Linda, California and they will meet in the desert for the 14th annual SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals, April 5-7 at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Two weeks ago, Force beat one of her biggest competitors on the track, her father and 15-time World Champion John Force, in their fourth side-by-side meeting on race day to date. Taking the win, Force went to the second round against Del Worsham for their first ever matchup, and lost when her Traxxas Ford Mustang ran a 4.135 at 310 mph to Worsham’s 4.122 at 306 mph, sending the Kalitta Racing team driver on to the semis to compete against Force’s teammate and brother-in-law, Robert Hight.
“It was definitely good for us to get that first round win over my dad, and to get it with a 4.09 on our first pass of the day. That told me our team really had their stuff together,” said Force. “Second round wasn’t what we had planned. They were able to drive around us for the win so we’re excited to get back out there and do our best in Vegas.”
Last year at The Strip, Force qualified No. 4 and lost to Johnny Gray in the first round when the Traxxas Ford Mustang Funny Car malfunctioned and threw out the parachutes just before Force clicked it off.
“Last year in Las Vegas our Traxxas team qualified really well, but had a tough competitor with Johnny Gray in the first round. I had a good feeling our car would perform, I was ready for it to, but we just had a little malfunction with the parachute. It caused a load of problems for me on my run and (Gray) was able to drive around me and get that win,” said Force.
The 24-year-old Funny Car driver was raised just four hours away in Yorba Linda, Calif.
This year, Force is ready to compete for the inaugural NHRA Mello Yello series championship. She is now holding on tight to the No. 3 spot in the Funny Car point standings, just 28 points behind a two-way tie between Ron Capps and Johnny Gray.
“We have been doing really well so far this year and I’m excited to get back to this track. The Strip at Las Vegas is one of the nicest facilities we travel to,” said Force. “This might only be the fourth event so far this season, but I think our Traxxas team is looking good. I’m excited to see what happens.”
THREE-TIME LAS VEGAS SPRING CHAMPION HIGHT LOOKING FOR FOUR OF A KIND
For Robert Hight, driver of the Automobile Club of Southern California Ford Mustang Funny Car, Las Vegas has been one of his “luckier” tracks and the three time SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals winner is ready to return to the winner’s circle. If a driver was trying to turn their luck around then getting on the track at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway would seem like the natural venue to make a move.
“I love racing at The Strip in Las Vegas. We test here a lot and we have won a lot of races here. I have won the last two SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals so I am ready to go. We figured some things out in Gainesville a couple of weeks ago so I am expecting more progress this weekend,” said Hight.
Hight has won this event three of the last six years including the 2011 and 2012 titles. Teammate John Force won the spring race in 2010 on the way to his 15th Mello Yello Funny Car world championship.
BRITTANY SEEKS HISTORIC ROUND WIN
There is little doubt that, before the year is out, rookie Brittany Force will make drag racing history. However, the odds of that happening this week, when she sends her Castrol EDGE dragster to the starting line in the 14th annual SummitRacing.com Nationals, are better than average.
At The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, a track on which she has had more experience than any other, the 26-year-old daughter of drag racing icon John Force will try to become the first Top Fuel driver in 42 years to win a competitive round in a Ford-powered dragster. The last to do so was the late “Sneaky Pete” Robinson, who used Ford power to beat Bob Murray in the second round of the 1970 U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis, Indiana.
NEFF’S RETURN BOOSTS FORCE’S VEGAS STOCK
John Force will be the first to admit that he’s never had much luck in Las Vegas. Still, it would be ludicrous to bet against the 134-time NHRA tour winner this week when he sends his Castrol GTX Ford Mustang after the Funny Car title in the 14th annual SummitRacing.com Nationals at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. At The Strip at LVMS, a track on which his record streak of 395 consecutive starts ended in 2007 and on which he was eliminated in one of the most bizarre racing rounds in history in 2001, Force once again is attracting attention for all the right reasons. The 63-year-old icon is one of the pre-race favorites, a status he owes to the off-season return of Mike Neff as crew chief on his 10,000 horsepower Ford. With Neff, Force never has lost at LVMS. Without him, he’s rarely won.
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