SURPRISE WIN FOR COURTNEY FORCE IN SEATTLE
TEAM JFR RACE REPORT
14th of 24 races in the 2009 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series
22nd annual NHRA Northwest Nationals
July 17-19, 2009
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SURPRISE WIN FOR COURTNEY FORCE IN SEATTLE
-John Force Reaches Semis, Mike Neff Moves to 9th in Points-
Kent, WA – Add 21 year old Courtney Force to the growing list of Forces hoisting Wally’s, the trophy awarded for an NHRA national event victory. At the 22nd annual NHRA Northwest Nationals outside Seattle the youngest driving Force raced to her first final and won, defeating veteran Top Alcohol Dragster driver Chris Demke in a great final. Force grabbed a starting line advantage, battled with Demke over the ¼ mile track before moving ahead as Demke slowed at about 1,000 feet. The Cal State Fullerton junior was not convinced she won even after seeing her win light.
“It is unbelievable. When I saw my win light I didn’t believe it at first. I was hoping (I had won) and when I went around the corner and saw (JFR marketing manager) Kelly (Antonelli) and all our friends standing at the top end clapping. I thought maybe I did get the win but I still didn’t want to get my hopes up. I am just so excited I can’t even believe we won in Top Alcohol Dragster with our Sanyo car for BrandSource, Castrol, and Auto Club. I am just so excited we are bringing one of these cars to the winner’s circle in Seattle,” said Force.
The communications major was feeling the pressure after her semi-final victory when she watched her father 14-time champion John Force lose his semi-final race to former JFR teammate Tony Pedregon. As she was walking back through the pits the public address announcer gave her a startling announcement.
“I was walking around after my dad went out in the semis and I heard the announcers say it is all up to Courtney Force now. I thought, ‘I wish I hadn’t heard that.’ I wish I would have been wearing my headphones. That is too much pressure. (Funny Car driver) Jack Beckman came up to me told me to just have fun. He told me to not think about it as a final. I just went out there and had fun and happened to get a win,” said Force.
Force had a tough semi-final opponent, someone she was very familiar with personally just not on the race track, her sister Brittany. The two Forces who have come up through the ranks of Super Comp and in two years of Top Alcohol Dragster had never raced each other in eliminations before today. Brittany Force was amped up for the race and unfortunately jumped the Christmas Tree, red-lighting, and handing her sister a free pass to the final.
“She said she was really excited about (racing me). She wanted to get going and get to the other end first. She just left a little too quickly. She was happy for me. She ran over and hugged me. She congratulated me for going to the final. We knew one of us was going to the final and either way it would be our first official final, added Courtney Force.
Team leader and father John Force summed up the day outside the Pacific Raceways press center as well as his feeling seeing his youngest daughter grab her first win. She is only 125 national event victories behind the winningest driver in NHRA history but he is happy she got just one.
“(She her win) was a rush. It is a moment of emotion where you want to scream and cry at the same time. These are little kids that I watched them grow up and her mother raise. To see them come out in a sport that I have loved my whole life and I gave everything to. I wanted my children all to feel what I felt,” said the 14-toem world champion. “Even if they don’t stay in the sport to know one time the feeling of being the greatest show on earth, NHRA Drag Racing. Courtney got a taste of that today.”
“I think we have a good rounded team. One of the things we have is a lot of potential with our drivers in my own family to move up in the future. They are the Next Generation. They are learning. They are on top of the world because Courtney won today. She did what she was supposed to do the way (crew chief) Jerry Darien taught her. She got a win.”
“My (funny car) teams moved up in the points. Ashley (Force Hood) is just a round or two out of the points lead. Robert (Hight) is struggling right now. We are going to put a lot of focus on his car right now this week with (Auto Club crew chief) Jimmy Prock on how we can get her to run at Sonoma. It is just not where it needs to be. My Mustang is finally coming around. I am excited and I am starting to come around mentally. At the end of the day to see three daughters racing is great. Brittany had that fire to win in the semi-finals against her sister Courtney. She wanted to win too. I am very proud for Courtney but I have to be honest I am proud for her mom, Laurie. These are her children. She raised them, God bless her. I know what it means to her to see them deliver and Courtney delivered today.”
Mike Neff and the Ford Drive One Mustang made a nice move up the point standings moving into 9th place and putting a few more points between himself and rookie Matt Hagan and Cruz Pedregon. Neff defeated Jeff Arend in a tire smoking battle in the opening round but he dropped his second round match-up to eventual funny car winner Tim Wilkerson.
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Race Winners At-A-Glance:
FUNNY CAR – Tim Wilkerson, Springfield, Ill., Levi, Ray and Shoup Ford Mustang, 4.211, 291.01 mph, def. Tony Pedregon, Brownsburg, Ind., Conquest Boats/Quaker State Chevrolet Impala, 4.283, 289.57 mph.
TOP FUEL – Antron Brown, Pittsboro, Ind., Matco Tools dragster, 3.985, 301.07 mph, def Tony Schumacher, Long Grove, Ill., U.S. Army dragster, 3.990, 300.00 mph.
PRO STOCK – Mike Edwards, Coweta, Okla., Young Life/ART Pontiac GXP, 6.583, 211.03 mph, def. Jason Line, Troutman, N.C., Summit Pontiac GXP, 6.601, 210.50 mph.
TOP ALCOHOL DRAGSTER – Courtney Force, Yorba Linda, Calif., Sanyo A/Fuel dragster, 5.440, 257.83 mph, def. Chris Demke, Sunland, Calif., 5.508, 218.87 mph.
TOP ALCOHOL FUNNY CAR – Doug Gordon, Paso Robles, Calif., 2006 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 5.572, 250.91 mph, def. Roger Bateman, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, 2008 Ford Mustang, 9.047, 94.18 mph.
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NHRA Full Throttle points (unofficial standings after the first fourteen races in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series):
FUNNY CAR – 1. Ron Capps, 1039; 2. Ashley Force Hood, Castrol GTX Ford Mustang, 1018; 3. Tony Pedregon, 1009; 4. Jack Beckman, 855; 5. Tim Wilkerson, 804; 6. Del Worsham, 791; 7. Bob Tasca III, 787; 8. John Force, Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang, 739; 9. Mike Neff, Ford Drive One Mustang, 683; 10. Matt Hagan, 669; Also 11. Cruz Pedregon, 662, 12. Robert Hight, Auto Club Ford Mustang, 626.
TOP FUEL – 1. Antron Brown, 1168; 2. Tony Schumacher, 1031; 3. Larry Dixon, 998; 4. Brandon Bernstein, 913; 5. Spencer Massey, 819; 6. Cory McClenathan, 814; 7. Shawn Langdon, 773; 7. Morgan Lucas, 773; 9. Doug Kalitta, 666; 10. Clay Millican, 567.
PRO STOCK – 1. Jeg Coughlin, 1199; 2. Mike Edwards, 1179; 3. Jason Line, 1086; 4. Greg Anderson, 951; 5. Allen Johnson, 933; 6. Greg Stanfield, 744; 7. Ron Krisher, 704; 8. Kurt Johnson, 668; 9. Rickie Jones, 608; 10. Warren Johnson, 575.
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TEAM CASTROL Details:
JOHN FORCE, 60, Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang
Qualifying position: 5th at 4.229 seconds, 290.13 mph
Race results: Beat Del Worsham, Bob Tasca, Lost toTony Pedregon.
ASHLEY FORCE HOOD, 26, Ronald McDonald House Charities Castrol GTX Ford Mustang
Qualifying position: 8th at 4.268 seconds, 285.35 mph
Race results: Beat Gary Densham. Lost to Tony Pedregon.
ROBERT HIGHT, 39, Automobile Club of Southern California Ford Mustang
Qualifying position: 10th at 4.273 seconds, 286.13 mph
Race results: Lost to Tim Wilkerson.
MIKE NEFF, 42, Ford Drive One Mustang
Qualifying position: 2nd at 4.216 seconds, 290.26 mph
Race results: Beat Jeff Arend. Lost to Tim Wilkerson.
BRITTANY FORCE, 23, BrandSource A Fuel Dragster
Qualifying position: 4th at 5.398 seconds, 266.64 mph
Race results: Beat Bill Edwards Jr., Joey Severance, Lost to Courtney Force.
COURTNEY FORCE, 21, Sanyo Supercharged HD A Fuel Dragster
Qualifying position: 9th at 5.486 seconds, 258.02 mph
Race results: Beat Mark Niver, Dale Carlson, Brittany Force, Chris Demke
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22nd annual FRAM Autolite NHRA Nationals, July 24-26, Sonoma, Calif.
28th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, August 13-16, Brainerd, Minn.
25th annual Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals, August 20-23, Reading, Penn.
55th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals, Sept. 2-7, Indianapolis. Ind.
COUNTDOWN TO ONE
2nd annual NHRA Carolina Nationals, Sept. 17-20. Charlotte, NC
24th annual O’Reilly Super Start Batteries NHRA Fall Nationals, Sept. 24-27, Ennis, Texas
22nd O’Reilly NHRA Mid-South Nationals, Oct. 2-4, Memphis, Tenn.
4th annual Virginia NHRA Nationals, Oct. 9-11, Richmond, Va.
9th annual NHRA Las Vegas Nationals, Oct. 29- Nov. 1, Las Vegas, Nev.
45th annual Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals, Nov, 12-15, Pomona, Calif.
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