Rookie Courtney Force never dreamed that she would be doing so well, so soon in her professional Funny Car career. Coming down off a ‘first final round high” from this past weekend in Chicago, Ill., Force is as confident as ever in her Traxxas Ford Mustang Funny Car, crew chiefs and team members. The entire crew, with newfound fire in their bellies, accomplished a quick turnaround after the successful event, packed up and pointed their haulers East towards Norwalk, Ohio for the sixth annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals.
“I think I’ve exceeded my expectations personally. I obviously want to get a win this season and I thought maybe down the road that would happen, but getting to a final this early on, I didn’t see that coming. I guess that’s not giving myself and my team as much credit as I should, but I’ve just been trying to take it slow and learn as I go along. It’s definitely been going better than I expected. I really couldn’t ask for a better start to the season,” said Force, who moved up from 9th to 7th in points based on her Chicago performance. “I’m excited and I’m looking forward to Norwalk this weekend,” she added.
Last weekend in Chicago, Force raced to her first career Funny Car final round, taking out fellow Ford driver and friend, Bob Tasca III, teammate and brother-in-law Robert Hight, and fellow rookie in the running for Auto Club’s Road to the Future award for “Rookie of the Year,” Alexis Dejoria before falling to veteran Jeff Arend in the final round.
“Going up there for the final I was pretty nervous, but I was more excited than anything. I have a great team with my crew chiefs Ron Douglas and Dan Hood. My Traxxas Ford Mustang is a great car; it just stumbled a little in the final round. It shook and I tried to pedal it as quick as I could, but Arend went on and he had a great run. He took home the win, but just to be in that final round was huge and it really made me open my eyes and see that this is a goal we can reach and maybe I will get that Wally soon,” said Force.
The current Funny Car track record at Summit Motorsports Park is held by none other than Force’s older sister, Ashley Force Hood. Hood set the record in June of 2010 with an elapsed time of 4.032 seconds.
Force is just two points behind Arend and the 6th place spot in the Full Throttle standings. DeJoria’s final round appearance in Bristol coupled with her semi-final finish in Chicago moved her up to 11th place. Both rookies have been competitive on the track but Force has a decided edge in round wins and has maintained her position in the Top Ten in points throughout the season.
“It’s very surreal almost. That was only my 11th professional race and being a rookie I have high goals for myself, but I’ve just been focused on learning this season and getting qualified for all of the events and just doing the best I can to take it slow and learn with every run, but when you get up there and make it to the final round things change. I’ve always had that drive to win but it just ignites even more when you see yourself and your team making it to the final. My sister has won it before and I definitely want to be up there with a trophy myself. Hopefully it will be soon, but it really does make me feel good. I think our Traxxas Ford Mustang definitely has potential to achieve that goal this season,” said Force.
Arend’s win put him in the 7th spot for the Traxxas Nitro Shootout. One more spot remains in the bonus race that will be held in Indianapolis prior to the NHRA Mac Tools U.S. Nationals on Labor Day weekend, and will be determined by a fan vote/lottery style drawing out of those who have not won an event so far this season.