Courtney Force Enters NHRA Carolina Nationals With A Win On Her Mind And Nothing To Loseby Hunter Thomas September 19, 2015 0 comments
Photo Credit: Hunter Thomas
CONCORD, NC – NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Funny Car driver, Courtney Force enters the Carolina Nationals outside of the Countdown to the Championship, but she’s certainly not going to let that deter her efforts in winning the final six events this season.
The Countdown to the Championship is the NHRA’s version of playoffs, and the Carolina Nationals at zMAX Dragway is the first stop on the schedule for the six-race run. Following the U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis, the top-10 drivers in the championship point standings were locked into the Countdown. In Indianapolis, Courtney beat Alex DeJoria, but unfortunately, she lost to Tommy Johnson Jr. Now that the team has moved on to Concord, North Carolina for the Carolina Nationals, Courtney and her team’s goal is to win races and if not, then make sure that her teammates can finish as high as possible.
“Unfortunately we didn’t make the Countdown to the Championship, we were right there on the edge and almost got it done through the changes, but you know we missed it by about two rounds,” Force said. “It was definitely close, but now we’re hoping that we can go out there and maybe play a little bit of a spoiler role.”
Every team enters the race weekends with a win in mind, but when points racing, teams need to think about the bigger picture. With Courtney having nothing to lose, the team can now take more risks in the performance aspect. The TRAXXAS Chevrolet Camaro SS team will also be trying to figure out a competitive edge for the upcoming 2016 season. If she goes up against a driver who is competing in the Countdown and is able to knock them out, then that only helps the rest of the John Force Racing stable in their route to capturing a 19th Funny Car championship.
“We don’t really have to try and play it safe for points and worry about anything,” Force said. “You just kind of get to go out, and like I said, push the car hard and see how it’ll react and hopefully we’ll get this car figured out in the long run for next season.
“Now that we’re not in it (Countdown for the Championship) for this year, we’re hoping that we can kind of be there to play spoiler and kind of block the other guys that are going up against my teammates for the championship. Maybe I can do my job to be there to take them out to help our teammates with points and everything. The further they can get in points, the better, and the sooner I knock some of the guys out that are hovering over them, that’s better for all of us.”
Heading into the NHRA Carolina Nationals, Courtney sits 11th in the championship point standings and is 153 points ahead of Chad Head. On Friday, she posted the 10th quickest lap during the opening qualifying session, as well as in the second session. Her best run of the day was 4.080 seconds at 303.30 mph. During Saturday’s qualifying sessions, Courtney also posted the 10th quickest lap in the third session, but she improved to ninth in the fourth and final session. Her best run on Saturday was 4.062 seconds at 307.86 mph. Courtney will be seeded ninth and will go head-to-head with eight seed, Jack Beckman in Sunday’s eliminations.
As far as off the track, her relationship with Verizon IndyCar Series driver, Graham Rahal is doing great. Rahal is in attendance at zMAX Dragway supporting Courtney’s efforts. However, although the two are professional drivers who compete at well over 200 mph, they don’t really give each other advice on their competitive driving skills. But, as far as driving to dinner, Courtney admits that they used to kind of “fight” over it, but she has since given her bae, the honors.
“We kind of like to be there to support each other, but I think we play our own roles when we come out to the races,” Force said. “I don’t really have any input when he gets in his car and vise-versa. The only thing I can really do is be there for support, you know root him on. It’s nice that his season is done. Just coming out here to support me at the last few races. It’s a lot of fun. It’s nice that I met someone who understands racing, and we can talk racing a little bit, but we’re not there to kind of shove any advice down each other’s throat because we know that I know drag racing and he doesn’t and vise-versa.”