GAINESVILLE, FL – March 2, 2017 – (Motor Sports Newswire) – Brittany Force’s first career Top Fuel win came a year ago at the AMALIE Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals, a NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series win preceded by a runner-up finish the race before in Phoenix.
Coming off a second straight final round in Phoenix in 2017, Force wouldn’t mind history repeating itself one more time in her 10,000-horsepower Monster Energy dragster at the AMALIE Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals, March 16-19 at Gainesville Raceway.
“That’s what we’re hoping for, that’s what we’re going for,” said Force, who finished sixth in points a year ago. “We’re still looking for our first win of the season, and we’d love to repeat last year and bring home that first win at the Gatornationals. Going to the final round in Phoenix shows how close we are. We’re in a different place than where we started last year. We didn’t come into this year still looking for that first win. We’ve already done it, and we know we can do it again. It’s a whole different attitude going into this season.”
Robert Hight (Funny Car), Greg Anderson (Pro Stock) and Eddie Krawiec (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were also last year’s winners of the event that will be televised on FOX Sports 1, including live finals coverage on Sunday at 1 p.m. (ET). The NHRA’s traditional East Coast opener is the third race in the 2017 season and was where Force’s Top Fuel career turned a major corner a year ago.
She posted seven final round appearances before finally breaking through in Gainesville, but that win opened the door for much more success. Force won two races later in Charlotte and then posted a third win in Brainerd en route to the best season in her young Top Fuel career. Force, the daughter of Funny Car icon John Force, recalled the boost the first career win in Gainesville provided and how it continues to push her.
“That first win just brought the entire team up,” said Force, who has 12 final round appearances. “We’ve been chasing that win since 2013, and to finally accomplish it was huge. It put an overall fire in our team to push harder to bring home more wins. It just made us hungry for more. There was no better feeling than bringing home that win, and it made us realize how bad we want more.”
Oddly enough, Force fell to Leah Pritchett in both final rounds in Phoenix and will again be among her chief challengers in Gainesville. Pritchett has been red-hot to open 2017, winning the first two races and jumping out to the points lead. Other top contenders include back-to-back defending world champion Antron Brown, Doug Kalitta, Steve Torrence and Tony Schumacher.
But Force is focused on her own improvements, which has already allowed for a quick ascent through the loaded Top Fuel ranks. The next step is building on last year’s breakout campaign in hopes of achieving even more.
“My focus is on having consistent reaction times, consistent lights,” Force said. “That’s where my focus was last year, and that’s where it’s going to be this year. Really, just stepping up my game. My entire team is pushing to the next level to where we bring home more wins, move up in the points and go for that championship.”
Hight’s victory in Funny Car last year gave John Force Racing its first double-up weekend in team history, but he will have to deal with the likes of Matt Hagan, who won the first two races of 2017, defending world champ Ron Capps and Courtney Force.
Longtime Pro Stock standout Greg Anderson will look for his third straight win at Gainesville Raceway after ousting teammate and defending world champ Jason Line a year ago. Both have victories at the first two races in 2017.
The Pro Stock Motorcycle class makes its 2017 debut at the race. Jerry Savoie claimed his first world title last year and will look to start fast against the likes of defending race winner Eddie Krawiec, Andrew Hines, Angelle Sampey and Matt Smith.
The event is also the season-opening race for the NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Series and features thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series and thrilling Jet Cars. As always, fans can 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 the highly-skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds, and get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers.
Fans also will want to visit NHRA’s popular Nitro Alley and Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create a carnival atmosphere, with interactive displays, simulated competitions, merchandise, food and fun for the entire family.
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 12:45 and 4:15 p.m. on Friday, March 17 and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, March 18 at 12:00 and 2:30 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, March 19.
To purchase general-admission or reserved seats, call (800) 884-NHRA (6472) or visit www.NHRA.com/tickets. Kids 12 and under are free in general admission areas with a paid adult. For more information about the NHRA visit www.NHRA.com.
AMALIE MOTOR OIL NHRA GATORNATIONALS
WHAT: 48th annual Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals, the third of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Drivers in four categories – Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle – earn points leading to 2017 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series world championships. Competition also will be featured in the NHRA Lucas Oil Series and the NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Series.
WHERE: Gainesville Raceway, Gainesville, Fla. The track is located on 11211 North County Road 225 in Gainesville.
WHEN: Thursday through Sunday, March 16-19
THURSDAY, March 16 – LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying at 8:30 a.m.
FRIDAY, March 17 – LUCAS OIL SERIES eliminations
NHRA J&A SERVICE PRO MOD SERIES qualifying at noon and 3:30 p.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at 12:45 and 4:15 p.m.
SATURDAY, March 18 – LUCAS OIL SERIES eliminations
NHRA J&A SERVICE PRO MOD SERIES qualifying at 1:45 p.m. Round 1 of eliminations at 4:15 p.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES qualifying at noon and 2:30 p.m.
SUNDAY, March 19 – Pre-race ceremonies, 10 a.m.
MELLO YELLO SERIES eliminations begin at 11 a.m.
Sunday, March 19, FS1 will televise three hours of live finals coverage at 1 p.m. (ET).
2016 EVENT WINNERS: Brittany Force, Top Fuel; Robert Hight, Funny Car; Greg Anderson, Pro Stock; Eddie Krawiec, Pro Stock Motorcycle.
MOST VICTORIES: Warren Johnson, 9, PS; John Force, 7, FC; Don Prudhomme, 5, Greg Anderson 5 PS, FC; Joe Amato, 4, TF; Kenny Bernstein, 4, FC/TF; Larry Dixon, 4, TF; Don Garlits, 4, TF; Eddie Krawiec, 4, PSM; Jason Line, 4, PS; Ed McCulloch, 4, FC; Tony Schumacher, 4, TF; Dave Schultz, 4, PSM; Terry Vance, 4, PSM.
Top Fuel – 3.698 seconds by Richie Crampton, March ’16; 329.02 mph by Spencer Massey, March ‘15.
Funny Car – 3.879 seconds by Jack Beckman, March ’16; 329.26 mph by Beckman, March ’16.
Pro Stock – 6.473 seconds by Mike Edwards, March ’12; 214.69 mph by Erica Enders, March ’14.
PS Motorcycle – 6.750 seconds by Eddie Krawiec, March ’12; 199.26 mph by Krawiec, March ’11.
Top Fuel – 3.658 sec. by Leah Pritchett, Feb. ’17, Sonoma, Calif.; 332.75 mph by Spencer Massey, Aug. ’15, Brainerd, Minn.
Funny Car – 3.822 by Matt Hagan, Aug. ’16, Brainerd, Minn.; 335.57 mph by 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.
PS Motorcycle – 6.728 sec. by Andrew Hines, Oct. ’12, Reading, Pa.; 199.88 mph by Hector Arana Jr., March ’15, Charlotte, N.C.
TICKETS: For tickets call (800) 884-NHRA (6472). Tickets also available online at www.NHRA.com/tickets
GLENDORA, CA — Point standings (top 10) following the 33rd annual NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park, the second of 24 events in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series –
1. Leah Pritchett, 245; 2. Tony Schumacher, 153; 3. Brittany Force, 151; 4. Antron Brown, 143; 5. Doug Kalitta, 140; 6. Steve Torrence, 110; 7. Shawn Reed, 99; 8. (tie) Troy Coughlin Jr., 84; Scott Palmer, 84; 10. (tie) Terry McMillen, 80.
Clay Millican, 80.
1. Matt Hagan, 240; 2. Ron Capps, 178; 3. Courtney Force, 140; 4. Tommy Johnson Jr., 134; 5. John Force, 112; 6. J.R. Todd, 105; 7. Jim Campbell, 102; 8. (tie) Jack Beckman, 90; Tim Wilkerson, 90; 10. Robert Hight, 88.
1. Greg Anderson, 225; 2. Jason Line, 195; 3. Jeg Coughlin, 132; 4. Bo Butner, 131; 5. Tanner Gray, 129; 6. Drew Skillman, 124; 7. Vincent Nobile, 117; 8. Shane Gray, 110; 9. Erica Enders, 107; 10. Chris McGaha, 66.
About National Hot Rod Association
Headquartered in Glendora, Calif., NHRA is the primary sanctioning body for the sport of drag racing in the United States. NHRA presents 24 national events featuring the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series and NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series. NHRA provides competition opportunities for drivers of all levels in the NHRA Summit Racing Series and the NHRA Drags: Street Legal Style presented by AAA. NHRA also offers NHRA Jr. Street program for teens and the Summit Racing Jr. Drag Racing League for youth ages 5 to 17. In addition, NHRA owns and operates five racing facilities: Atlanta Dragway in Georgia; Gainesville Raceway in Florida; National Trail Raceway in Ohio; Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis; and Auto Club Raceway at Pomona in Southern California. For more information, log on to NHRA.com, or visit the official NHRA pages on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
Source: National Hot Rod Association