Brittany and Courtney Force raced to No. 1 qualifying positions Saturday at the NHRA Kansas Nationals at Heartland Park Topeka, the first time sisters have shared the top qualifying stage at an NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event.
Brittany posted a career-best performance of 3.746 seconds with a track record speed of 329.75 mph in her 10,000-horsepower Castrol Edge dragster to claim her first career No. 1 in Top Fuel.
Courtney set both ends of the Funny Car track record with a 4.009 at 322.96 in her Traxxas Ford Mustang to earn her second No. 1 of the season and fifth of her career.
Brittany will face veteran driver Luigi Novelli to open Sunday’s 11 a.m. eliminations, and Courtney will race Dale Creasy Jr. Both drivers are pursuing the landmark 100th female Pro victory in NHRA history during a season that has seen female drivers in each Pro class have success.
“I’m so excited,” said Brittany, who with a win would also become the 100th different driver to earn an NHRA Top Fuel victory. “It shows that all our hard work is finally paying off after struggling last year. To be able to come out here and go No. 1; I didn’t expect that. I am so proud of my entire team. I hope our first win comes this weekend. That would be awesome.”
Courtney is continuing the momentum from a runner-up finish last weekend in Atlanta, where she was emotional after losing a close race to teammate and series points leader Robert Hight.
“It was a tough weekend for me,” Courtney said. “I was going for my first win of the season, a spot in the Traxxas Shootout and the 100th win for women on top of it all. I am glad we have found some consistency, and that was a career-best run. There’s a lot of pressure for us girls out here right now. And it’s cool to see me and Brittany going to the top and Alexis (DeJoria, Funny Car) and Erica (Enders-Stevens, Pro Stock) are also running great. It’s our time to shine as women out here, and this is the perfect place to do it. Hopefully we can keep the ball rolling.”
Brittany said it is really amazing to earn her first No. 1 qualifying position alongside her sister.
“We both came out here as kids, watched our dad race, and dreamed about driving a fuel car,” Brittany said. “It’s so cool to think that we’re both running in the Pros, and we’re both on top of the field ahead of all these guys who are champions out here. It’s a little surreal.”
Their father John was second in his Castrol GTX High Mileage Mustang with a 4.021 at 318.84, and Hight, who has won the last three events and is riding a six-race final round streak, qualified third in his Auto Club Ford Mustang with a 4.040 at 314.75. John will race Bob Tasca III, and Hight will face Cruz Pedregon in the opening round.
Also in Top Fuel, J.R. Todd qualified second in his Optima Batteries dragster with his Friday-leading 3.747 at 324.75 and will face Clay Millican in the opening round. Defending world champ Shawn Langdon qualified third with a 3.756 at 323.43 in his Al-Anabi Racing dragster and will meet veteran Pat Dakin in the first round. Series leader Doug Kalitta, a past winner at Topeka, qualified sixth in the Mac Tools dragster with a 3.778 at 327.03 and will race Leah Pritchett in the opener.
In Pro Stock, Vincent Nobile’s effort on Friday of 6.601 seconds at 208.71 mph in his Mountain View Tire Chevy Camaro gave him his second No. 1 position of the season and fourth of his career. It is his first top qualifying effort at Topeka, and he will meet Mark Hogan in the first round.
“When you run good, it is definitely a confidence booster,” Nobile said. “We had three consistent runs so far, and hopefully we can put in four tomorrow and take home the trophy. We’ve done pretty good this year and had a bunch of semifinal finishes. We’re out here to win just like everybody else. It kinda feels like a little bit of a struggle, and hopefully this weekend we can turn it around.”
Pro Stock points leader Enders-Stevens posted the quickest run in each qualifying round today and qualified second overall with a 6.606 at 208.81 in her Elite Motorsports Chevy Camaro. She will face Deric Kramer in the first round.
Friday: Todd, Force, Nobile lead opening-day in Topeka