BRISTOL, TN – June 13, 2016 – (Motor Sports Newswire) – Brittany Force took a major step in her budding Top Fuel career by registering her first two career victories during the 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season.
Force, though, is hardly satisfied and has a special milestone in mind for this weekend’s 16th annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at picturesque Bristol Dragway. It’s a very popular track for all the top stars on the NHRA circuit and that includes Force, who would like nothing more than to share the winner’s circle with her legendary father, 16-time Funny Car world champion John Force, on Father’s Day.
“Bristol is one of my favorite tracks on the circuit and I would love to bring home a win there,” said Force, who is currently fourth in the Top Fuel standings driving her 10,000-horsepower Monster Energy dragster. “It would be pretty awesome to double-up on Father’s Day and end up in the winner’s circle with the Monster Energy team and the Peak team with my dad.”
Richie Crampton (Top Fuel), Matt Hagan (Funny Car) and Erica Enders (Pro Stock) are the defending winners of the event that will for the first time be telecast on FOX Sports 1. It marks the 11th of 24 races during the 2016 and comes at an important time for Force, who is trying to build momentum as the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship nears.
Working with legendary tuner Alan Johnson and crew chief Brian Husen, Force put together an incredible start to her fourth Top Fuel season, breaking through for the first time at Florida’s NHRA Gatornationals. She did it again two races later, winning in Charlotte to maintain the points lead. Force held the top spot for one more race before Doug Kalitta’s three-race winning streak propelled him to the front.
Since her last win, Force has been battling with consistency but she felt things got back on track last weekend in Englishtown, as she advanced to the semifinals for the first time since Charlotte before falling to eventual winner Steve Torrence.
“It definitely feels good to be going rounds,” Force said. “It was a tough weekend for us (in Englishtown). We struggled a little bit in qualifying. As a driver, I was really struggling on the tree. I just couldn’t seem to find it so it felt good on that third round to finally have a decent tree. We didn’t get the win, but it feels good to leave on that note and overcome the struggle I was having this weekend.”
That gives Force plenty to build on heading into Bristol, which marks the third event in a rigorous string of four consecutive race weekends. After a first-round loss in Epping to kick off this stretch, Force was happy to be headed in the right direction again. But with a talented group around her, Force, named the NHRA’s top rookie in 2013, knew the struggles wouldn’t last long.
“I can’t say enough about Alan and Brian,” Force said. “They have been so great to work with and this whole Monster Energy team has really come together. This whole team works really well together and they are a great group of guys. I am proud of every one of them, and we all work so hard to try and get the win every race.”
It isn’t an easy task in Top Fuel and Force fully knows that after waiting until her fourth season for her first victory. Getting one in Bristol will be just as hard going against a loaded field that includes Kalitta, defending world champion Antron Brown, who won in Epping, Torrence, a Bristol winner in 2013, last year’s winner Crampton, five-time Bristol winner and eight-time world champion Tony Schumacher, J.R. Todd, Clay Millican and Shawn Langdon.
But wins haven’t been the only highlight for Force, who has nine career final round appearances. Force set a Top Fuel national elapsed time record in Topeka with an incredible run of 3.676 seconds. She joined the rest of her family members – John Force, Ashley Force Hood and Courtney Force – as NHRA drivers who’ve held a national record in Top Fuel or Funny Car at one time.
“I think it is neat to be able to join my family with their list of accomplishments,” Force said. “The fact that we all now have set a national record at one time or another is cool. It would be awesome to beat that record and just hang onto it. I would like for it to be ours for a while and maybe have it be something unbeatable. It does seem like nowadays the race cars are getting faster and quicker every race so I don’t know how long we will hang onto this record. I am hoping it last for a little while so we can enjoy it.”
Funny Car’s Hagan won for the first time at his hometown track last year and his been red-hot recently, winning back-to-back races and resetting national records for elapsed time and speed. Courtney Force currently has one victory this season, but competition will be tough at Bristol Dragway and comes in the form of stars like four-time Bristol winner John Force, reigning world champion Del Worsham, three-time event winner Ron Capps, who has won the last two races to take over the points lead, Robert Hight, two-time 2016 winner Tim Wilkerson, Jack Beckman and Las Vegas winner Alexis DeJoria.
Enders, the back-to-back and defending Pro Stock world champ, has two straight Bristol wins, but is searching for her first victory of 2016. Ken Black Racing teammates Jason Line and Greg Anderson have raced to victory at every Pro Stock event so far this season. Line, the current points leader, has five of those wins and has raced to every final round this year. Others to watch in the new era of Pro Stock, which includes fuel-injected engines, shorter wheelie bars, flat hoods and a 10,500 RPM rev-limiter, include Bo Butner, who is third in points, five-time world champ Jeg Coughlin, 2014 top rookie Drew Skillman, 2012 world champ and local favorite Allen Johnson, Shane Gray, Chris McGaha and Vincent Nobile.
The NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series will hit the track in Bristol for its fifth race of the 2016 season. The NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals also will feature thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series.
As always, fans will have the opportunity to interact with their favorite drivers as they’re granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. This unique opportunity in motorsports gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to see firsthand how the highly-skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds, and get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers.
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 5 and 7:30 p.m. on Friday, June 17 and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, June 18, at 1 and 4 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for noon on Sunday, June 19.
To purchase general-admission or reserved seats, call Bristol Dragway at (423) 989-6900. Tickets also are available online at www.bristoldragway.com. Kids 12 and under are free in general admission areas with a paid adult. For more information about the NHRA visit www.NHRA.com.
NHRA THUNDER VALLEY NATIONALS FACT SHEET
WHAT: 16th annual NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals, the 11th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Drivers in three categories – Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock – earn points leading to 2016 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series world championships. Competition in the NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Series and the NHRA Lucas Oil Series also will be featured at this event.
WHERE: Bristol Dragway, Bristol, Tenn. From Interstate 81 North, take Hwy. 11E. Take the Virginia Exit 3 and Hwy. 11E will take you directly to the dragway. From the I-81 South, take Tennessee exit 69 and go south on Hwy 394 directly to the dragway.
COURSE: Championship drag strip; Track elevation is 1,475 feet above sea level; Track direction is southwest to northwest.
WHEN: Friday through Sunday, June 17-19
FRIDAY, June 17 – LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying
NHRA J&A SERVICE PRO MOD SERIES qualifying at 4:30 and 6:45 p.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 5 and 7:30 p.m.
SATURDAY, June 18 – LUCAS OIL SERIES eliminations
NHRA J&A SERVICE PRO MOD SERIES qualifying at 12:15 p.m. Round 1 of eliminations at 2:45 p.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 1 and 3:30 p.m.
SUNDAY, June 19 – Pre-race ceremonies, 11 a.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES eliminations begin at noon.
SATURDAY, June 18, FOX Sports 1 (FS1) will televise two hours of qualifying highlights at 2 p.m. (ET)
SUNDAY, June 19, FS1 will televise three hours of finals coverage at 4:30 p.m. (ET)
2015 EVENT WINNERS: Richie Crampton, Top Fuel; Matt Hagan, Funny Car; Erica Enders, Pro Stock.
MOST VICTORIES: Tony Schumacher, 5, TF; Mike Edwards, 4, PS; John Force, 4, FC; Doug Kalitta, 3, TF; Ron Capps, 3, FC.
Top Fuel – 3.745 sec. by Tony Schumacher, June ’15; 331.04 mph by Larry Dixon, June ’15.
Funny Car – 3.978 sec. and 323.43 mph by John Force, June ’15.
Pro Stock – 6.621 sec. and 208.78 mph by Shane Gray, June ’14.
Top Fuel – 3.676 sec. by Brittany Force, May ’16, Topeka, Kan.; 332.75 mph by Spencer Massey, Aug. ’15, Brainerd, Minn.
Funny Car – 3.862 sec. and 335.57 mph by Matt Hagan, May ’16, Topeka, Kan.
Pro Stock – 6.455 sec. by Jason Line, March ’15, Charlotte, N.C.; 215.55 mph by Erica Enders, May ‘14, Englishtown N.J.
TICKETS: For tickets call Bristol Dragway at (423) 989-6900. Tickets also available at www.bristoldragway.com.
NHRA MELLO YELLO DRAG RACING SERIES WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS STANDINGS
GLENDORA, CA — Point standings (top 10) following the 10th of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series –
1. Doug Kalitta, 847; 2. Antron Brown, 798; 3. Steve Torrence, 782; 4. Brittany Force, 693; 5. Tony Schumacher, 577; 6. J.R. Todd, 528; 7. Clay Millican, 507; 8. Richie Crampton, 483; 9. Shawn Langdon, 478; 10. Leah Pritchett, 377.
1. Ron Capps, 758; 2. Jack Beckman, 731; 3. Courtney Force, 687; 4. Tim Wilkerson, 660; 5. Del Worsham, 639; 6. Matt Hagan, 615; 7. Robert Hight, 586; 8. John Force, 581; 9. Tommy Johnson Jr., 558; 10. Alexis DeJoria, 516.
1. Jason Line, 1,133; 2. Greg Anderson, 1,065; 3. Bo Butner, 719; 4. Allen Johnson, 614; 5. Drew Skillman, 550; 6. Chris McGaha, 491; 7. Vincent Nobile, 480; 8. Jeg Coughlin, 424; 9. Alex Laughlin, 413; 10. Erica Enders, 406.