Courtney Force, the 2012 Auto Club Road to the Future Award winner as NHRA Rookie of the Year, goes into her second season in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series hoping to improve on her fifth-place finish in points in Funny Car.
“Honestly I really do think that our Traxxas team exceeded our own expectations,” said Force in a recent NHRA teleconference. ‘Going out there, my dad told me, this is a learning year, you got to go out there, do the best you can. Every lap, the more and more comfortable you get, the more practice you get. I mean, I'm lucky enough I had a crew chief, Ron Douglas, Dan Hood, they gave me such a consistent racecar throughout the season, we qualified at every national event last season. We made it in the top 10 and finished fifth in the overall points standings as well as picking up rookie of the year. I'm very excited with how the season went. Got a win in Seattle, Washington, for the first time. It was definitely an exciting season. We're looking forward to starting it again next weekend.”
Next weekend is the start of the 2013 season with the NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, California. Force joins her father, 15-time Funny Car champ John Force, and her brother-in-law, 2009 champ Robert Hight, in the Funny Car ranks, while her sister Brittany makes her own run for Rookie of the Year honors in the Top Fuel division.
“We're getting excited,” confirmed Force. “Just through testing, we were one of the quickest cars out there in West Palm. I actually ran my fastest at 322 miles an hour. I believe it was at 4.01 seconds. We're excited. Now I have a different perspective. We're definitely going after something better than the number five position hopefully by the end of the season and even going to try to tackle a championship. But we got a lot on our plate.”
Included on her plate: continuing as the Ford Driving Skills for Life spokesperson. “I was in high school not that long ago,” relates Force. “It's cool to go back there, talk to these kids. You know they're nervous getting into a seat of a car, especially at 16. At that age, you think you know everything. You don't want to listen to your parents. This program makes it so much fun. It comes out to the schools. You sign up for free just to take these rides and driving lessons. It's really cool. You get to hop behind the seat of the car. I went through a course where it's set up, cone course, it's texting while driving. It's so much fun to go through it. They don't make it like this is a lesson learned deal. It's really about having fun. Practice makes perfect. I think that's the one thing I can really teach 'em, because my dad told me the same thing.”
“I didn't want to listen to my dad growing up, but it's pretty crazy how much I listen to him now,” continued Force. “He knows how to drive one of these Ford Mustang Funny Cars. Getting behind the seat of an 8,000 horsepower car, the more laps I made in a Funny Car, the more I learned. For teens I always say, Get behind the wheel, practice, listen to your parents, just try to learn from maybe their mistakes or what it may be. But get behind the wheel and just keep practicing.”
Quotes in this piece provided by the NHRA.
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