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Brittany Force Headed To Funny Cars?

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, September 6 2017

Top Fueler Brittany Force tested a Funny Car this week. (File photo by Marc Gewertz/NHRA)

By John Sturbin | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

Top Fuel dragster regular Brittany Force completed a successful test in a new John Force Racing Funny Car Tuesday in what could be the prelude to a sponsor-driven NHRA career-change.

“We don’t know where we stand with sponsorships next year,” Brittany said in a team-issued release, “so it’s good to have options down the road.”

Force made three, non-full-track passes down Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis in Clermont, Ind., site of last weekend’s 63rd annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals. Driver of the Monster Energy dragster, Force has recorded four national event victories in Top Fuel and will begin the Countdown to the Championship playoffs as the sixth-seed.  

NHRA’s six-race postseason will open with the 10th annual Carolina Nationals at O. Bruton Smith’s zMAX Dragway in Concord, N.C., Sept. 15-17.

Team owner/father John Force _ a 16-time Funny Car world champion _ wanted Brittany to experience driving a Funny Car and to plan for the future, should the need arise for her to swap rides.

“The driver’s here to learn and make laps,” John Force said. “We don’t need to go that fast. We have plenty of time. You need to learn how to drive it _ this is different. She’s got to focus because she’s got to get back in her dragster in Charlotte. They tell me you’ve got to slow down the way you steer these cars.

“But I’m proud of her because she understands that it is about sponsorship. She even asked me, ‘What are we doing?’ I never had a game plan in my life. I’m waiting to see financially which way is the best direction to go. She loves Top Fuel and that’s what she wants to do. If we can keep her there, that’s what we’ll do. … Deals are made in the middle of the year, and I can’t wait until next January to take her to Phoenix to test in a Funny Car. You need to get ahead of it, and I wish I was a year ahead.”

JFR fields the PEAK Coolant and Motor Oil Chevrolet Camaro SS for “Brute” Force, the Auto Club of Southern California Camaro for 2009 world champion Robert Hight and the Advance Auto Parts Camaro for Courtney Force, Brittany’s younger sister.

“It was a good day out here testing after Indy,” Brittany Force said. “I had a blast in the Funny Car. It’s a whole different animal. It’s a lot of fun to feel the difference between a dragster and a Funny Car. We made some runs and am still working on getting licensed. But I love my dragster _ that’s home for me.”

Force did not make a full pass, instead getting settled into the cockpit and learning the differences between the Funny Car and her Top Fuel dragster.

Brittany’s first Funny Car pass was 4.401-seconds at 205.63 mph, as she shut it off about 400 feet into a 1,000-foot run. She ran to about 900 feet on the second pass _ 3.863-seconds at 307.23 mph. Hight and the JFR crew chiefs analyzed the data of that run and discovered the clutch came in much faster than anticipated, and all agreed to slow the car down. During her final run, Force shut off the engine at about 800 feet and ran 3.916-seconds at 297.81 mph.

The biggest difference between the Funny Car and her Top Fueler, Brittany said, was in the steering system.

“It responds much quicker than a dragster,” Force said. “I’m used to turning the wheel and it takes a moment to get caught up. In this one, it responds immediately. That’s definitely different. Burnouts are a lot of fun. You’re sitting on top of the thing, and the view looking down the track is completely different than a dragster.”

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Point standings (top-10) following the 63rd annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, Round 18 of 24 in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule:

Top Fuel _1. Steve Torrence, 1,667; 2. Antron Brown, 1,599; 3. Leah Pritchett, 1,563; 4. Tony Schumacher, 1,220; 5. Doug Kalitta, 1,126; 6. Brittany Force, 1,105; 7. Clay Millican, 1,080; 8. Terry McMillen, 770; 9. Scott Palmer, 698; 10. Shawn Langdon, 647.

Funny Car _1. Ron Capps, 1,530; 2. Robert Hight, 1,344; 3. Matt Hagan, 1,280; 4. Jack Beckman, 1,275; 5. Tommy Johnson Jr., 1,229; 6. Courtney Force, 1,072; 7. John Force, 1,007; 8. J.R. Todd, 959; 9. Tim Wilkerson, 902; 10. Cruz Pedregon, 730.

Pro Stock _1. Bo Butner, 1,616; 2. (tie) Greg Anderson, 1,423; Tanner Gray, 1,423; 4. Drew Skillman, 1,270; 5. Jason Line, 1,206; 6. Erica Enders, 1,093; 7. Jeg Coughlin Jr., 1,054; 8. Vincent Nobile, 947; 9. Allen Johnson, 736; 10. Chris McGaha, 728.

Pro Stock Motorcycle _1. LE Tonglet, 958; 2. Eddie Krawiec, 884; 3. Hector Arana Jr., 781; 4. Jerry Savoie, 768; 5. Matt Smith, 696; 6. Andrew Hines, 620; 7. Scotty Pollacheck, 611; 8. Joey Gladstone, 475; 9. Karen Stoffer, 457; 10. Angie Smith, 443.

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The Mickey Thompson Tires Top Fuel Harley Drag Racing Series category will expand and compete at 10 events on the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule. First race will take place at the season-opening Circle K NHRA Winternationals at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona in Pomona, Calif., Feb. 8-11. 

The series will visit the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals and end its season at the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals for the first time. The category again will race at the NHRA Arizona Nationals, Denso Spark Plugs NHRA Nationals, NHRA SpringNationals, Menards NHRA Heartland Nationals presented by Minties, NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals, NHRA New England Nationals and NHRA Northwest Nationals.

“Adding two new venues to the schedule for the 2018 Mickey Thompson Tires Top Fuel Harley Series means more fans will experience the excitement these elite riders bring to the track,” said Ken Warner, vice president of marketing for Mickey Thompson. “We’ve produced the best drag motorcycle tires in the market for over 20 years and are proud to partner with the NHRA and support the riders, teams and fans who help make the Top Fuel Harley Series one of the most exciting.” 

The powerful two-wheel class will see an increase in qualifying sessions to four during the weekend. All 10 events will count towards the year-end championship, including a $17,000 purse.

“We are excited to welcome back the Mickey Thompson Tires Top Fuel Harley motorcycle category for an extended schedule next season,” said Graham Light, NHRA senior vice-president. “Top Fuel Harley has thrilled fans at events this year and we look forward to seeing their growth next season.”

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2018 MICKEY THOMPSON TIRES TOP FUEL HARLEY DRAG RACING SERIES SCHEDULE

Feb. 8-11, NHRA Winternationals, Pomona, Calif.

Feb. 23-25, NHRA Arizona Nationals, Chandler, Ariz.

March 15-18, Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals, Gainesville, Fla.

April 6-8, Denso Spark Plugs NHRA Nationals, Las Vegas

April 20-22, NHRA SpringNationals, Baytown, Texas

May 18-20, NHRA Menards NHRA Heartland Nationals, Topeka, Kan. 

June 15-17, NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals, Bristol, Tenn.

July 6-8, NHRA New England Nationals, Epping, N.H.

Aug. 3-5, NHRA Northwest Nationals, Kent, Wash.

Aug. 29-Sept. 3, Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, Clermont, Ind.

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, September 6 2017
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