It’s Father’s Day Weekend and there’s no place Brittany Force would rather be than Bristol Dragway for this weekend’s 19th annual NHRA Thunder Nationals. The former Top Fuel world champion has always held the picturesque track in high regard and with her legendary father, 16-time Funny Car world champ John Force, joining her in Thunder Valley, she is planning something special during the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series race.
That includes her second victory of the 2019 season in her 11,000-horsepower Advance Auto Parts dragster, but Brittany also has something else up her sleeve for her father over the course of the weekend at the fan-favorite track. Her first career win at Bristol Dragway would certainly be meaningful as well, especially if she can share the winner’s circle with her father for the first time.
“It’s my favorite racetrack on the circuit,” said Brittany, who has nine career Top Fuel wins. “Thunder Valley, there’s nothing like it and it’s always special because it falls on Father’s Day. My dad doesn’t know, but I have something special for him, just a gift I want to give him to let him know how much I appreciate him and everything he’s done for me and everything he’s taught me. I think he’s going to be blown away by it. It’s going to be pretty cool.”
Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel) and Ron Capps (Funny Car) were last year’s winners of an event televised on FOX Sports 1, including live final eliminations coverage starting at 2:00 p.m. (ET) on Sunday. It is the 11th of 24 events in 2019, and with a Friday night Primetime qualifying session starting at 7:30 p.m., Brittany will have a chance to start the weekend in impressive fashion.
She has already recorded three No. 1 qualifiers in 2019, picking up a win in Houston, advancing to three final rounds and running a race-best 3.690 at 332.67 mph last weekend in Topeka. With Bristol coming in the midst of a rigorous four-race stretch, Brittany wants her team to get back on the winning track, and Thunder Valley would be the ideal location. Brittany and J. Force both recorded No. 1 qualifiers in Houston to become the first father-daughter combo to do so in NHRA history, and with J. Force a win away from 150 in his career, they hope to pull it off the double-win in Bristol.
“I’m excited to get there,” said Brittany, who is currently third in Top Fuel points. “I’ve never won the race, but our team is turning the corner. We’ve been struggling the last couple of races, but first round last weekend in Topeka we put a 3.69 on the board. I definitely feel like we’re finding our footing moving to the next few races. I have all the faith in this team and I know we’ll get it figured out and get things turned around.”
Led by crew chief David Grubnic, the team has displayed its potential all season. But to win in Bristol, Brittany will likely have to get past points leader and defending world champion Steve Torrence, who has won five straight races in 2019. Stopping his torrid pace won’t be easy, especially as Brittany also has to deal with the likes of Doug Kalitta, Leah Pritchett, Antron Brown and Clay Millican, but recent changes paid off last weekend in Topeka and Brittany is confident her team can continue moving forward in Thunder Valley.
“David Grubnic has made changes because we’ll be coming into the hot races and need to get this car figured out,” Force said. “I’m very hopeful. We want to go rounds and get this Advance Auto Parts team in the winner’s circle. Really, it’s working on that tune-up, finding our car in the heat, getting our car down, making consistent runs and going out on race day and winning the thing. We’ve made some big moves, big changes and it’s finally starting to show.”
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 4:30 and 7:30 p.m. on Friday, June 14 and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, June 15, at 1 and 4:00 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for noon on Sunday, June 16.
To purchase reserved seats, call Bristol Dragway at (423) 989-6900. Tickets also are available online at www.thundervalleytix.com. Kids 12 and under are free in select areas with a paid adult.