SEATTLE (Aug. 6) – Monster Energy driver Brittany Force culminated a successful Western Swing by clinching a spot in the Countdown to the Championship and racing to the second round in the NHRA Northwest Nationals on Sunday at Pacific Raceways.
Force clinched her spot in the Countdown – the six-race segment that closes the season and determines the champions in NHRA’s pro classes – after qualifying No. 5 on Saturday. The Countdown starts in two races, following the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals on Labor Day weekend at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis.
“I locked in this weekend,” Force said. “That’s something to be really proud of. I got to sign my name on that board, and we’re in for the Countdown.”
Force remains fifth in the Top Fuel points standings after Seattle. The top 10 advance to the Countdown.
Force started Sunday by racing No. 12 qualifier Troy Buff. She was off first and never trailed, making a pass of 3.724 seconds at 328.14 mph that ended up being low elapsed time of race day. Buff trailed with a 3.841-second run at 317.79 mph.
Force was in the midst of a good run in the second round, but she began to haze the tires at half-track and fell to No. 4 qualifier Clay Millican.
“It’s a little bit frustrating, especially when you see the guy I the lane next to us on a good run,” Force said. “We had an outstanding run in the first round today, so I thought I could carry that momentum and make it all the way to the finals. That was the plan.
“But we slipped up and I pedaled the thing to try to leg it down there but no way was it going to catch (Clay) Millican running a .76. We’ll pack up, take a weekend off and be ready to go into Brainerd.”
Millican sped to the semifinals with a 3.769-second run at 323.27 mph, while Force legged a pass of 4.004 seconds at 271.30 mph.
That snapped a two-race streak of reaching the semifinals, though she did move up to No. 5 in the points during the Western Swing.
“I think our Western Swing was pretty outstanding with two semifinal-round appearances and second round here,” Force said. “I wish we could have taken it a little bit further, but overall a pretty good weekend. We picked up points this weekend and we’ll just keep fighting for it in Brainerd.”
The next stop on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule is the NHRA Nationals on Aug. 18-20 at Brainerd International Raceway in Minnesota.
· Best Qualifying Effort: 3.780 seconds/324.05 mph (Round 4, Qualified No. 5)
· Elimination Round 1 (Left Lane): 3.724 seconds/328.14 mph, def. No. 12 Troy Buff, 3.841 seconds/317.79 mph; last minute lane change results in quickest pass of the event at that point to win by more than two car lengths … also quickest and fastest pass she’s ever made at Pacific Raceways; vs. Buff – now 3-1 all-time; 1-0 this season; 2-0 at Seattle
· Elimination Round 2 (Quarterfinals, Left Lane): 4.004 seconds/271.30 mph, lost to No. 4 Clay Millican, 3.769 seconds/323/27 mph; was ahead at 60 and 330 feet but slowed after smoke was seen coming out of the car; vs. Millican – 3-7 all-time; 0-2 this season; 0-1 at Seattle
· Now 109-104 (213 rounds) all-time in elimination rounds (.512)
· Now 15-9 (24 rounds) all-time in elimination rounds after qualifying No. 5 (.625)
· Now 2-5 (7 rounds) all-time in elimination rounds at Pacific Raceways (.286)
· Now 22-15 (37 rounds) this season in elimination rounds (.595)
· Top Fuel points standings: 1. Antron Brown 1,418; 2. Steve Torrence 1,405; 3. Leah Pritchett 1,329; 4. Tony Schumacher 1,064; 5. Brittany Force 992.