CHANDLER, Ariz. (February 14, 2012) – Courtney Force gave the Funny Car field at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona a run for their money last weekend when she began her pro career in her Traxxas Ford Mustang. Courtney qualified in the no. 12 spot and took out Bob Tasca III in the opening round of eliminations on Sunday before falling victim to teammate Mike Neff who won 40 rounds throughout the 2011 season, more than any other driver.
The 2012 O’Reilly Winternationals event was a big step forward for Force, John Force Racing as a whole and new sponsor Traxxas, who came on board as primary sponsor for the rookie driver at the beginning of this season.
“I think our first race out for the season went a little better than expected. We were going in with very modest attitudes because all parts of our Traxxas team were new- driver, crew members, car, parts, etc. Our main goal in Pomona was to get qualified. We got in the field and were able to get past first round so it definitely was a good weekend for the Traxxas Ford Mustang team,” said Force
Force is only the second of eight Funny Car drivers at John Force Racing to snag a first round win during a debut event. The first was Gary Densham, who drove from 2001 through 2006. Densham made it to the semifinal round at the 2001 NHRA Spring Nationals at Houston, Texas. The other six JFR drivers exited their first events for the team in the first round of eliminations.
“It’s an honor to be one of the few drivers at John Force Racing to do well at my first event. It was definitely a team effort. I try to take everything I learn from the previous season and everything that my teammates have taught me, including my sister Ashley, and use that to move forward. I think that making it that far was good for us and the guys. They worked hard for it. With all of them being new and having to work together I think we all handled it well,” said Force.
New to the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing series is the Traxxas Nitro Shootout. In addition to Traxxas being announced as the Official Radio Controlled Performance Products of the NHRA, the new sponsor is giving Top Fuel and Funny Car teams a chance at a $100,000 prize.
The first seven event winners from both Top Fuel and Funny Car classes qualify for a spot in the shootout and are joined by an eighth driver voted in by fans. The Traxxas Nitro Shootout will be held during the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis, with Top Fuel showcased on Saturday, Sept. 1, and Funny Car featured on Sunday, Sept. 2.
“I’m definitely excited about the Traxxas Nitro Shootout. I think it’s something amazing to bring back into the sport. I grew up watching the Big Bud Shootout and the Skoal Showdown so it’s exciting. Giving the fans those different events all at one race is pretty awesome especially mixing it up this year with Traxxas and making it so the fans have a say in who that eighth entry is. I think it will make for an interesting race,” said Force.
This coming weekend, Force will continue to build experience as she competes in the 28th annual NHRA Arizona Nationals at Firebird International Raceway, Feb. 17-19.
“I’m looking forward to going to Phoenix because I think we have a pretty consistent car, great crew chiefs and a great group of guys behind us. We definitely want to go out there and try to get qualified again, make it in the field and just try to stay as consistent as we were at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona for the Winternationals. We want our car to continue to do well, we want to learn from it and push it a little harder and make it go a little quicker because it’s going to be tough to beat some of these guys that are our competitors.”
“Conditions are going to be different out in Phoenix, but I think as long as we keep doing what we have been and keep the car going down the racetrack maybe we can go one more round further,” added Force.
For more information on the Traxxas Nitro Shootout click here
Crew Chief(s) Mike Neff (Bernie Fedderly)
Date of Birth September 13, 1966
2012 results Q-F-PtsPos-Performance
Pomona 1 4th-RU-2nd-4.036/316.97
Crew Chief(s) Dean Antonelli (Danny DeGennaro) Ron Douglas (Scott Wible)
Date of Birth May 4, 1949
2012 results Q-F-PtsPos-Performance
Pomona 1 6th -WIN-1st-4.080/315.64
Q – Qualifying position
F – Finishing position (WIN, winner; RU, runner-up; 3-4, semifinal loser [position to highest qualifier]; 5-8, second round loser; 9-16, first round loser).
PtsPos – Position in Full Throttle points at end of the event
Performance – Best individual elapsed time and speed of the event (underlined indicates best of the race)
COURTNEY FORCE, 23, began her pro career last week by taking her Traxxas Ford to the second round of the season-opening O’Reilly Winternationals before losing to teammate Mike Neff. Among the team’s eight Funny Car drivers, hers is the second best start. Only Gary Densham, who drove from 2001 through 2006, was more productive in his JFR debut, reaching the semifinal round at the 2001 NHRA Spring Nationals at Houston, Texas. The other six JFR drivers exited their first events for the team in the first round.
TELEVISION (all on ESPN2, all times Eastern Daylight):
Qualifying highlights – Saturday, Feb. 18, 8-10 pm
Race highlights – Sunday, Feb. 19, 9 pm-12 midnight
FUNNY CAR POINT STANDINGS (After one of 17 events leading up to the Countdown to playoffs)
1. John Force, Yorba Linda, Calif., Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang, 114
2. Mike Neff, Fishers Ind., Castrol GTX Ford Mustang, 95
3. Ron Capps, Carlsbad, Calif., NAPA Dodge Charger, 73
Gary Densham, Bellflower, Calif., Lawson Oil Dodge Charger, 73
5. Jack Beckman, Norco, Calif., Valvoline Dodge Charger, 62
6. Courtney Force, Yorba Linda, Calif., Traxxas Ford Mustang, 52
7. Tim Wilkerson, Springfield, Ill., Levi, Ray and Shoup Ford Mustang, 51
Todd Lesenko, St. Albert, Alberta, CAN, Tap-It Brewing Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 51
9. Robert Hight, Yorba Linda, Calif., Auto Club Ford Mustang, 41
10. Bob Tasca III, Cranston, R.I., Quick Lane/Ford Parts Ford Mustang, 39