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Father-daughter duo are Forces to be reckoned with at NHRA SpringNationals

by Mike Haag | Posted on Saturday, April 13th, 2019

By Mike Haag

BAYTOWN, Texas – For the first time in NHRA history a father-daughter duo will start No. 1 on Sunday at the 32nd annual Mopar Express Lane NHRA SpringNationals presented by Pennzoil at Houston Raceway.

John and Brittany Force. Photo by Gary Nastase, Auto Imagery

Sixteen-time NHRA Funny Car champion John Force, along with his daughter Brittany Force, winner of the 2017 NHRA Top Fuel championship, both became the first father and child to ever qualify No. 1 together at NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event.

“In my career I’ve done a lot of things, won a lot of specialty races but anytime this sport brings we together with my children, that’s what I really love about NHRA drag racing,” John Force said. “We’re one big family. To have a moment with Brittany, that her and I can share together, we’ve really become a lot closer. There won’t be a party tonight, we have a race to win tomorrow but it’ll give us a moment of just looking at each other and me being mostly proud of her.”

It was J. Force’s 156th career pole while B. Force picked up her 12th No. 1 qualifier.  If J. Force wins it will be his 150th career victory.  It’s also his 11th No. 1 at Houston Raceway.

Force will start No. 1 in his PEAK Coolant and Motor Oil BlueDEF Nitro Funny Car after recording a 3.888 second run on Friday.  He will face Terry Haddock in the opening round.

John Force. NHRA photo

“I’ve earned a lot of these hats,” J. Force said.  “Not so many lately but Brian Corradi and Dan Hood, Tim Fabrisi, these guys are doing a really good job at teaching the new kids and the old. They give me a hot rod that runs like that, tomorrow is a whole new ball game.”

Force added, “Tim Wilkerson is hungry and I thought he was going to be right there with me but tomorrow we have to get after this thing. Tonight, we can share the moment and tomorrow, we’ll come out here to Houston Raceway Park to entertain the fans. Again, I want to thank the Angel family. The Angels spent their money and that is what our sport is all about for us to survive in this economy. To run numbers like that on a great race track makes me feel really good and, especially, to see my baby girl do the same so thank you to the whole family and God bless you.”

On Friday night, B. Force set both ends of the track record after a blistering 3.661-second pass at 332.18 mph from Friday’s night qualifying session in her Advance Auto Parts Top Fuel dragster.  She will face Cameron Ferre in the opening round.

Brittany Force. NHRA photo

“We are coming in strong this weekend,” Brittany Force said.  “We had a good weekend in Vegas and were the runner up at the Four Wide in Las Vegas last weekend.  We are coming in strong in Houston. We won this thing last year and we plan to come out and win this thing tomorrow on race day.  Setting both ends of the track record last night was awesome. A 3.66 on the board. Pretty incredible run with David Grubnic and Mac Savage and the Advance Auto Parts team. We are looking for a long day tomorrow. Tomorrow is where it really begins.”

Force said she used today’s two qualifying sessions to help prepare for Sunday’s elimination rounds.

“Talking to my crew chiefs it was really just getting the setups for tomorrow on that first run,” B. Force said.  “On that second run the temperatures really cooled down a bit. So I had a feeling we would be able to get it down there and put a good number on the board.  We struggled in Q3 but overall we had a great weekend. We had some good runs and we are looking for a long day tomorrow.”

Both drivers have seen great success at Houston Raceway Park.  J. Force secured his 100th win here and Brittany Force had her first victory here in 2018 after a horrific accident at the season opener in Pomona in 2018.

John and Brittany Force. Photo by Mike Haag

“Courtney (Force) and I have been No.1 qualifiers  together and I’ve won with Robert (Hight) but dad and I haven’t done anything yet side-by-side,” B. Force said. “So to be No. 1 qualifiers would be great, but I am really looking to win with him this season.

“We’ve been saying all year long that things are different.  Courtney stepped out of the seat and is not out here. It’s my dad and my year.  That’s what I keep saying. It’s just us out here this year, father-daughter year and we are looking to end up in the Winner’s Circle this year.”

Sunday’s weather forecast calls for ideal racing conditions. Low humidity and temperatures around 70 degrees could help produced record runs on the quarter-mile drag strip.

“Tomorrow you’ll see some fast numbers on the board,” B. Force said.  “Hopefully we have some fast runs, consistent runs all day long tomorrow.  But if it cools down that’s when the conditions are going to be the best.”

Eliminations will begin at Houston Raceway powered by Pennzoil on Sunday at 11:00 a.m. CT.

BAYTOWN, Texas — Sunday’s first-round pairings for eliminations for the 32nd annual Mopar Express Lane NHRA SpringNationals presented by Pennzoil at Houston Raceway Park powered by Pennzoil, the fifth of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Pairings based on results in qualifying, which ended Saturday. DNQs listed below pairings.

Top Fuel — 1. Brittany Force, 3.661 seconds, 332.18 mph vs. 16. Cameron Ferre, 4.028, 291.89; 2. Steve Torrence, 3.703, 324.67 vs. 15. Kebin Kinsley, 3.837, 313.29; 3. Leah Pritchett, 3.709, 326.79 vs. 14. Shawn Reed, 3.796, 323.43; 4. Clay Millican, 3.718, 318.84 vs. 13. Richie Crampton, 3.780, 317.19; 5. Billy Torrence, 3.720, 325.22 vs. 12. Scott Palmer, 3.771, 321.81; 6. Mike Salinas, 3.723, 320.89 vs. 11. Antron Brown, 3.753, 326.56; 7. Austin Prock, 3.727, 325.92 vs. 10. Jordan Vandergriff, 3.733, 324.67; 8. Doug Kalitta, 3.727, 316.45 vs. 9. Terry McMillen, 3.732, 323.04. Did Not Qualify: 17. Jim Maroney, 4.054, 288.21.

Funny Car — 1. John Force, Chevy Camaro, 3.888, 319.29 vs. 16. Terry Haddock, Ford Mustang, 4.182, 294.69; 2. Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 3.893, 319.29 vs. 15. Jeff Diehl, Toyota Camry, 4.118, 293.98; 3. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 3.895, 321.12 vs. 14. Blake Alexander, Mustang, 4.095, 301.20; 4. J.R. Todd, Camry, 3.903, 326.08 vs. 13. Jim Campbell, Charger, 4.037, 311.92; 5. Robert Hight, Camaro, 3.908, 314.17 vs. 12. Jonnie Lindberg, Mustang, 4.005, 305.49; 6. Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.916, 318.47 vs. 11. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 3.959, 312.13; 7. Cruz Pedregon, Charger, 3.929, 324.67 vs. 10. Shawn Langdon, Camry, 3.948, 315.19; 8. Jack Beckman, Charger, 3.932, 311.34 vs. 9. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 3.940, 316.90. Did Not Qualify: 17. Todd Simpson, 5.169, 149.56.

About the Author

Mike Haag has covered motorsports in San Antonio and South Texas for more than 30 years. In addition to working for the San Antonio Express-News for nearly 28 years, Mike also has co-hosted TrackSmack with Dawn Murphy for 15 race seasons. In addition to being a writer, Mike also teaches English at Floresville High School.

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