How Brittany Force Won Her Second NHRA Top Fuel Championship

Force gives father John Force another championship for John Force Racing empire.

nhra brittany force
NHRA/National Dragster
  • Force clinches NHRA Top Fuel title after Justin Ashley, Mike Salinas suffer first-round losses.
  • Force ends Steve Torrence’s four-year Top Fuel reign, but teammate Austin Prock wins race.
  • Force follows Shirley Muldowney, Angelle Sampey, Erica Enders as fourth woman to win multiple series championships

    Looking back on her 2017 NHRA Top Fuel championship before this weekend’s Finals at California’s Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, Brittany Force said, “I'll tell you, there's nothing like it. I mean, best day of my career. I wish I could go back and relive it all.”

    The Monster Energy/Flav-R-Pac Chevrolet Dragster driver got to do that before noon Sunday, which might have become the new best day of her career.

    First-round defeats for Mike Salinas and then chief challenger Justin Ashley sealed the deal for Force and made her a two-time champion. Salinas, the No. 3 qualifier and No. 3-ranked racer had an outside chance to claim the title, lost to No. 14 starter Krista Baldwin. And Brown, a top-five seed in the Countdown, then beat Ashley to crown Force.

    Force ended up with a 62-point advantage over No. 2 Antron Brown. Austin Prock finished third and Justin Ashley closed his season in fourth place.

    She followed Shirley Muldowney as the second woman in the class to win more than one championship. She also joined Erica Enders (Pro Stock) and Angelle Sampey (Pro Stock Motorcycle) as the fourth woman to win multiple titles.

    Force had said she was committed to “doing the unimaginable on race day when you need to” to earn the championship and said she recognized that “there's still other people fighting for it.” By race day, Ashley and Salinas were the ones shooting for the unimaginable. Ashley and Salinas were within 26 and 75 points, respectively, of a first championship.

    “I can’t believe it ended up this way. I believed coming into today. I was motivated, pumped—we all were—and we got the job done. Just needed to get past the first round,” she said.

    austin prock nhra
    Austin Prock won Sunday’s season-ending Top Fuel race at Pomona.
    NHRA/National Dragster

    Force bowed out of eliminations in the semifinals, losing to John Force Racing teammate Prock, who went on to win the race.

    Force’s early-Sunday coronation made up for her dismal results from the first four events of the six-race Countdown. She lost in the second round at Reading, Charlotte, St. Louis, and Dallas. However, she bounced back with a victory two weeks ago at Las Vegas, regaining the lead from Ashley. At Pomona, she earned the No. 1 starting position, broke her own national speed record by one-thousandth of a second (at 338.94 mph), and gained 13 qualifying bonus points out of a possible 16 to establish her supremacy.

    This championship she is sharing with crew chiefs Dave Grubnic and Mac Savage. Alan Johnson tuned her to her 2017 championship. And she said, “It's what every team out here is chasing. It's the biggest accomplishment. It's what every team, driver, everyone wants. It's the reason we're out here fighting for this thing, a championship. You want that No. 1 on your car going into the next season. Just to have an accomplishment like that, a championship with your team, nothing like it.”

    Force said, “I want everyone to remember this day, here in Pomona with this Monster Energy / Flav-R-Pac team: David Grubnic, Mac Savage, every single one of my guys. We have been working at this all season long. We never gave up, and then we struggled in the Countdown. But we recovered, and we recovered when we needed to in Vegas and here in Pomona. This just seems unreal.”

    Force's Dominating Season

    The feat punctuated her dominating season. Force led the class in victories (five), final rounds (seven), top speeds (16) and low elapsed times (12) of the meet, No. 1 qualifying positions (10), and qualifying bonus points (109, 32 more than Steve Torrence’s next-best 77).

    And it was a bit of a full-circle for her relationship with outgoing four-time champion Steve Torrence. In 2017, she delayed his epic Top Fuel dominance, and Sunday she halted his streak of consecutive championships at four.

    Prock, who also won the first of the six Countdown races, in September, at Reading, Pa., referred to his sophomore season. “They say that’s typically a slouch. We ain’t no slouch. We came out swinging when it counted. I just wish we had gotten a better start to the Countdown.”

    Drag-racing veteran Rahn Tobler, Prock’s co-crew chief with Joe Barlam, is retiring, and Prock said, “He’s going out on top in Top Fuel.”

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