Reigning two-time NHRA Top Fuel Mello Yello Series champion Steve Torrence thought Brittany Force could steal his No. 1 qualifying spot Friday, but she didn’t.
That changed Saturday at the Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Motorsports Park near Phoenix.
Force, the 2017 Top Fuel world champ, clocked a 3.670-second time at 331.12 mph to seal the deal during the rain-shortened qualifying sessions.
“Grubby (David Grubnic, Force’s crew chief) was trying to run a little bit quicker than that, but that’s a great number,” Force said. “That got us barely around Steve Torrence and got us the No. 1 spot. Really what our plan is to go out and win on race day. We have a new sponsor this weekend in Flav-R-Pac and that 67 is awesome. We have been consistent all weekend long with the three runs we have had, and we need to do the same thing all day (Sunday).”
Force recorded her run in the only qualifying session Saturday. The first qualifying session Saturday – and the third of the event – was washed out because of rain.
Force just edged Torrence, who clocked a 3.671-second elapsed time at 326.48 mph in Q2 Friday.
This was Force’s 20th career No. 1 qualifying position and second in a row. She was atop the qualifying ladder at the season-opening Winternationals in Pomona, Calif., earlier this month, losing in the semifinals to eventual race winner Doug Kalitta.
“Two No. 1 qualifiers at the start of our race season, that just motivates the whole team top to bottom, every single one of us,” Force said. “It pumps us all up and puts energy in our pits. We are ready for race day. We are ready to go out and hopefully win the thing.”
Force said the continuity of her team from last year to this year is a huge benefit.
“To carry over a team, you don’t feel like you’re starting over,” Force said. “That was tough last season. We had a whole new team coming out (in 2019), top to bottom. We had new sponsorship and we moved all our parts back to John Force Racing parts. It was our experimental year as Grubnic called it, but we caught on very quickly. We have such a great group of guys and we figured it out and we won in Houston, five races in and that really showed how strong we were as a group. I felt good throughout the whole season. We finished in the No. 3 spot (in the point standings) and we were all very happy with that. We were in the hunt for a championship and we fell short of it. The No. 3 spot is a great spot, though, especially for a new group of people.
Now coming into this season, we have the same group of guys and we are just carrying everything over. We are not starting over fresh. I love this group of guys, David Grubnic, Mac Savage, every single one of those guys. They are incredibly hard workers and I’m so proud of all of them and I’m excited to see what we can do (Sunday).”
The Jeggie Coughlin “smash-em-in-the-ground” tour rolls through Phoenix qualifying with yet another perfect performance. #DragRacingNews #ArizonaNats #nhra – https://t.co/yHl6dWXUFX pic.twitter.com/N7os004sRy
— Competition Plus (@competitionplus) February 23, 2020