Story By: SCOTT SMITH / NHRA – ENNIS, TX – Brittany Force knows what a win at Texas Motorplex can do for championship aspirations. The Top Fuel standout performed well in the pressure moments of the NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship stop at the track two years ago, using that victory to HELP claim the first world championship in her NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series career.
Right in the middle of the title mix through two of six playoff races in the 2019 season, Force will aim for her second win in Dallas at the 34th annual AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals, Oct. 17-20. She has enjoyed another banner year in her 11,000-horsepower Advance Auto Parts dragster, sitting just 48 points back of the lead heading to a crucial point in the season.
“If you look at the season, we’ve done well in cooler conditions or those prime conditions,” Force said. “But this team is always positive, even when we’ve had bad days. When you make a mistake, you use it to push harder and come back better. We’ve been in these situations before and been through the pressure, and come out on top. There’s no reason we can’t do it again.”
Steve Torrence (Top Fuel), Robert Hight (Funny Car), Tanner Gray (Pro Stock) and LE Tonglet (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of the event that will be televised on FOX Sports 1 (FS1) in 2019, including live final eliminations coverage 2:00 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, Oct. 20. It is the fourth of six playoff races and 22nd of 24 races during the 2019 NHRA season, and Force will look to put on a show all weekend at Texas Motorplex.
She recorded the quickest run in NHRA history with a blistering pass of 3.623-seconds in qualifying at the playoff opener, advancing to the semifinals at that race. Force fell in the opening round at St. Louis, dropping her to fourth in points, but she continues to rave about the job her team, led by crew chief David Grubnic and assistant crew chief Mac Savage, have done all year. Despite a number of new pieces, Force has been a standout, picking up seven No. 1 qualifiers, three final rounds and a win in Houston.
“This team has been incredible,” said Force, who has nine career wins. “I’m lucky to work with them and we’re all on the same page. This is a new group and there’s been a lot of change. It’s an entirely new team and that can be hard to adjust to, and you’re worried about how long it could take to come together. But this team found it right away and right off the bat I had a good feeling about this team. The communication level on this team is something I’ve never seen before.”
Force also knows that St. Louis can be her only slip-up if the team wants to contend for a title. She’s trying to chase down points leader Doug Kalitta, while defending world champ Steve Torrence is just two points back. Mike Salinas is seven points ahead of Force, and she’ll also have to deal with the likes of Reading winner Richie Crampton, John Force Racing teammate Austin Prock, Antron Brown, St. Louis winner Billy Torrence and Leah Pritchett. But Force believes her team is ready to shine down the stretch after the early exit at the most recent race.
“St. Louis was a tough weekend and that’s the difficult thing about the Countdown,” Force said. “You have to try to stay on top through all the races. It was tough, but we still have time to catch up. I’m definitely confident that we can bounce back. We had a team meeting and we talked about everything from the weekend. We regrouped and we’re not holding back. If anything, we’re even more motivated to head into these next four races.”
Funny Car points leader Hight won for the second straight year and fourth time overall at Texas Motorplex last year. He’ll look to continue that against teammate John Force, who has seven Dallas wins, St. Louis winner Shawn Langdon, Ron Capps and defending world champ J.R. Todd.
Pro Stock’s Jason Line opened the playoffs with a win, but Erica Enders closed the gap to just 11 points with her St. Louis victory. Those two will battle it out in Dallas, while the likes of Bo Butner, Alex Laughlin and Matt Hartford look to close the points gap as well.
Eddie Krawiec has three wins in the past six years in Pro Stock Motorcycle at the track, but he’s seeking his first win of 2019. He’ll try and get it against teammate and points leader Andrew Hines, as well as playoff winners Karen Stoffer and Jerry Savoie, and defending world champ Matt Smith.
The AAA Texas NHRA FallNationals will also feature thrilling competition in SAM Tech NHRA Factory Stock Showdown, which makes its final stop of 2019, as well as the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, which showcases the future stars of the sport. For the first time, the Summit Racing Equipment Mid-West Pro Mod Series (MWPMS) will stage an unprecedented 16-car, eighth-mile exhibition race presented by Atomizer Racing Injectors. This exciting field will compete throughout the weekend including a final round of eliminations on Sunday in front of the NHRA raceday crowd. After Nitro qualifying on Friday, fans can also watch the spectacular “Lone Star Lightning” Jet Dragster driven by Tammy Gatlin and “The War Dance” jet car driven by Ralph Snyder. Jet cars are thrust driven vehicles propelled by jet engines with exciting pre-run flame shows.
NHRA fans can take part in the Mello Yello Walking Tour to see the cars and teams hard at work in the pits. Fans can also attend Pro Stock Motorcycle School and Nitro School to learn how the cars operate and reach their thrilling speeds. Texas Motorplex will also host a Mello Yello autograph session and allow fans to meet their favorite drivers as well as the Sealmaster Track Walk hosted by NHRA announcer Joe Castello. Another can’t-miss experience is the winner’s circle celebration on Sunday after racing concludes. NHRA fans are invited to congratulate the winners of the event as they celebrate their victories.
As always, fans can interact with their favorite drivers as they’re granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. This unique opportunity gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to see firsthand the highly-skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds, and get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers.
Fans also will want to visit NHRA’s popular Nitro Alley and Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create a carnival atmosphere, with interactive displays, simulated competitions, merchandise, food and fun for the entire family.