The Force family has some history at Auto Plus Raceway at Gainesville in Florida: patriarch John Force has seven wins at the track and his son-in-law Robert Hight is the defending race winner in the Amalie Oil NHRA Gatornationals. This weekend, his youngest daughter Courtney Force heads to the track as a winner in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series already this season.
“I'm excited going into the Gainesville race, especially coming off of a win in the opening race in Pomona,” said Force. “I've got a great team behind me and look forward to coming to this track, and taking what I learned from here last year and improving on it.”
Last year, Force suffered a first-round loss to Ron Capps in the historic Gatornationals, many months before she would earn her first NHRA Funny Car win. “I feel that our Traxxas Ford Mustang team has come a long way from when we were racing in Gainesville just a year ago,” said Force. “When I was competing at the race track last year, it had only been my third race as a rookie driver. This track was new and unfamiliar to me, and I struggled. I hope that I can take everything I learned from throughout last season and really improve with my performance going into Gainesville. I've got a great crew chief, Ron Douglas and Dan Hood, tuning my race car and a strong, motivated, group of guys on my team which gives me that extra push of confidence.”
Force recently earned another honor for her breakout 2012 rookie season: she was named Rookie of the Year by RACER Magazine, earning 60 percent of the global vote over IndyCar’s Simon Pagenaud and Formula 1’s Daniel Ricciardo. Force is the first NHRA driver to earn the honor.
“To be considered with top NASCAR, Indy Car and F1 rookies is an honor just in itself and to be voted as Rookie of the Year is unbelievable,” said Force, who was also named the 2012 Automobile Club Road to the Future Award winner. “It’s awesome to know that I’m the first NHRA driver to win this award and I have to thank all my fans and especially RACER magazine for this honor.”
Pro qualifying for the NHRA Gatornationals gets underway on Friday, March 15th at noon and 2:15 p.m. ET, and continues on Saturday, March 16th at noon and 2:15 p.m. ET; eliminations begin Sunday, March 17th at 11 a.m. ET. Stay up-to-date with the NHRA Gatornationals at www.nhra.com.
Quotes in this piece provided by the NHRA.
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