YORBA LINDA, Calif. (February 13, 2012) - Courtney Force made her official pro debut this past weekend at the 52nd annual O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, Calif.
Force made three clean, straight passes down the race track during Funny Car qualifying that stretched from Thursday to Saturday. Attempts were cut short by one pass due to weather, time constraints and track curfew obligations.
“My first run was very exciting. It was very nerve-racking. It is something I have been thinking about for such a long time. I think my dad was a little more nervous than me. I definitely had some butterflies and I just went up there knowing I didn’t have anything to lose. This was the dream that I was getting to live,” said the 23 year-old rookie. “I just wanted to go out there and do the best that I could as a driver. I wanted to take everything I learned from last year and take it to the race track. I am still a new driver and I am still learning every time I get in the car.”
By the end of the third qualifying shot, Force was set in the no. 12 spot for Sunday. She would face Bob Tasca III in the first found of eliminations on Sunday.
“I’m so proud of (crew chiefs) Ron Douglas, Scott Wible and my team for getting me here because I couldn’t have done it without them. Same goes for the support of my sponsors- Traxxas, Castrol, Ford, Auto Club, BrandSource, and Mac Tools.
Since mid-January testing in West Palm Beach, Fla., Courtney Force and the Traxxas team have been working on building from previous passes and constantly moving forward, and this was their weekend to show that. Force ran a 4.19, a 4.20 and a 4.21 during qualifying, proving the Traxxas Ford Mustang Funny Car an extremely consistent car.
“It went better than I expected. I have all the faith in the world in my crew guys and my crew chiefsRon Douglas and Scott Wible. Coming out as a rookie driver I didn’t set my expectations too high for myself. I have a great team behind me and great teammates therefore I have had great teachers. I just want to do everything I have learned in testing,” said Courtney, the youngest daughter of John Force. “I am very happy with how it went. Getting qualified alone was a big accomplishment. I came in and brought my crew guys some brownies and cookies and I wrote them a big thank you note telling them how proud I am of them. It is a big deal; it is the Winternationals. This is something I have always dreamed of. I always came and watched my dad so it is surreal to say now I am participating in that race with all these big hitters out here,” she added.
As crew chief Ron Douglas looked back at a hectic four days with a new team and new driver he felt relief and confidence moving forward to the NHRA Arizona Nationals, “We wanted to be consistent. We wanted to go down the track every run. We were working some bugs out still and you know, it’s a new team, new parts, new car, so we’re still working things out. We wanted to be a little bit faster than we were, but it was good to be consistent and keep making runs and letting her get runs under her belt. Then today, when we thought it was time we tried to open it up and run a little better and it ran better. We still need to do a little more to get it to perform better, but overall we’re happy with the way things went.”
“Courtney was flawless this weekend and probably removed a lot of doubt from a lot of people because she really did a great job; she did as well as anybody out there. Her lights were good, she handled the car well, kept it in the middle of the race track, just did a great job; we couldn’t ask for anything better.”
Force went up against fellow Ford racer Bob Tasca III for first round of eliminations. She posted a 4.204 ET at 309.27 mph, an almost perfect average of her qualifying times, which would send the 23-year-old Auto Club Road to the Future Award candidate to the next round against team member Mike Neff.
“(Tasca) is a tough competitor. Our car was consistent all weekend. That is the only thing you can really ask for. We lucked out on that run. Something happened to his car and we were able to drive around him and get the win. I was pretty shocked. I was yelling at my guys on the radio with excitement. I was screaming when I saw that win light. When I popped out of the roof hatch I was a little unsure and I wanted to make sure that I won before I got too excited. It was a big deal. You have to go back to the pit and regain focus.”
With pressure building on Force’s debut weekend, the team knew they would have to kick it up a notch against John Force Racing driver/tuner, Neff, and that’s just what they did. Force made an impressive pass at 4.14, considerably quicker than her previous passes over the weekend, but that wasn’t enough to stay ahead of Neff.
“I knew he was going to be tough to beat. He had been running very consistent as well. He was running in the 4.0s in the first round. I knew it would be tough, but we went out there and ran the best number of the weekend for us, a 4.14. He just outran us.”
Force was very well received throughout the weekend. Each day fans lined up at the ropes to witness history in John Force Racing pit areas along with sponsors, family and friends. Force stayed calm, cool and collected amongst the stress brought on by race weekend activities.
“It (debut weekend) was a little overwhelming. There was a lot of pressure. I was more excited than anything. I just want to thank my sponsors like Traxxas, Castrol, Auto Club, Ford, Mac Tools and BrandSource for giving me this opportunity. I was just excited to be able to be in a race in a Funny Car. I always dreamed of going three hundred miles per hour. It is just awesome to be here,” added Force.
Q1: 4.210 seconds, 303.16 mph
Q2: 4.199 ET at 307.09 mph
Q3: 4.204 ET at 309.27 mph
E1: 4.204 ET at 309.27 mph
E2: 4.143 ET at 313.88 mph
Traxxas is very proud to be racing with Courtney Force as she carries The Fastest Name In Radio Control across the finish line at over 300mph. Be sure to visit Traxxas in Nitro Alley at each stop of the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series!
2012 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Series schedule:
Feb. 17-19 • 28th Annual NHRA Arizona Nationals • Phoenix
March 8-11 • 43rd Annual Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals • Gainesville
March 30-April 1 • 13th Annual SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals • Las Vegas
April 13-15 • Third Annual VisitMyrtleBeach.com NHRA Four-Wide Nationals • Charlotte
April 27-29 • 25th Annual O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Spring Nationals • Houston
May 4-6 • 32nd Annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals • Commerce, Ga.
May 18-20 • 24th Annual NHRA Summer Nationals • Topeka
May 31-June 3 • 43rd Annual NHRA SuperNationals • Englishtown
June 15-17 • 12th Annual Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals • Bristol
June 28-July 1 • 15th Annual O'Reilly Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals • Chicago
July 5-8 • Sixth Annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals • Norwalk
July 20-22 • 33rd Annual Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals • Denver
July 27-29 • 25th Annual FRAM/Autolite NHRA Nationals • Sonoma
Aug. 3-5 • 25th Annual O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Northwest Nationals • Seattle
Aug. 16-19 • 31st Annual NHRA Nationals • Brainerd
Aug. 29-Sept. 3 • 58th Annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals • Indianapolis
Sept. 14-16 • Fifth Annual O'Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals • Charlotte
Sept. 20-23 • 27th Annual AAA Texas NHRA Fall Nationals • Dallas
Sept. 27-30 • 28th Annual Uni-Select Auto Plus NHRA Nationals • Reading
Oct. 5-7 • Inaugural NHRA Midwest Nationals • St. Louis
Oct. 25–28 • 12th Annual NHRA Nevada Nationals • Las Vegas
Nov. 8-11 • 48th Annual Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals • Pomona
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