Tampa Bay Sports Day

NHRA: Force Wouldn’t Mind History Repeating Itself Once More

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – 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.

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.