Brittany Force breathlessly talked through what her Advance Auto Parts Top Fuel accomplished in 2019. A win in Houston, three poles and a strong outlook as race day approached at the Arby’s NHRA Southern Nationals. That’s with a new team (though not new to each other) featuring crew chief David Grubnic.
It’s not good enough – not because those results don’t meant expectations (though Grubnic likely wants more from the process), but because the team is forward-facing.
“We want more wins. We want more No. 1 qualifiers. That's the mindset (crew chief) Dave Grubnic has," said Force. "I love working with Grubnic as a driver. He's always very determined and he always wants to go No. 1. That's just who he is. He wants to win every single race. That mindset is... you can't win all of them, obviously, and coming off of last weekend where we got taken out early, he just comes out here and wants to dominate."
Grubnic, who projects a softer-spoken, more analytical presence, bares his teeth and gets to enjoy shuttling his driver 1,000 feet quicker than 4 seconds. Those moments – the ones we don’t get to see – are the foundation of a crew chief/driver relationship.
“He came over before the run that ended up going No. 1 and he said, ‘okay girl. I’m going to push really hard on it and then he got this big smile on his face and it was like… okay. Here we go.’ And then it gets kind of scary, you know? I knew it was going to be a big one if we made it.”
It made it. The consistency of the dragster has improved over the course of the season (the success rate is up to 66.7 percent) and the only deficiency of the dragster, at this point, is speed. While the dragster makes great power at the beginning of the track, it often loses steam by the 1,000-foot mark. The first part of that equation is something Force is familiar with after driving an Alan Johnson/Brian Husen-tuned dragster to a championship in 2017.
“Every crew chief I’ve ever had… you learn something from every person you’ve ever worked with,” said Force. I’ve learned something from all the crew chiefs I’ve worked with over the years. You take a piece of every person you’ve worked with and you let that turn you into the person that you eventually become. I’m very thankful for Alan Johnson and Brian Husen and now I’ve got a new team and I’m very thankful for them. We’re going to have terrible weekends but we’re also going to have great weekends.”