I like to keep my same routine - it makes me comfortable and I think it makes everybody else comfortable. I think it helps us to do better
John Force is a racer’s racer. He simply hates to lose and, since his NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series victory at Norwalk in early July, that’s what’s happened to Force.
Losing out to the same bloodline
He’s lost and he’s lost to members of his own team and family. First son-in-law and John Force Racing president Robert Hight took the win from Force in Denver at the Mopar Mile High Nationals. Next, daughter Courtney Force became the winningest female in Funny Car history (eclipsing sister Ashley Force-Hood with her fifth win) when she earned the winner’s Wally at Sonoma. Force has one more opportunity to take a Western Swing victory this week on the Seattle dragstrip, which might be easier if it’s not all in the family.
John Force secured his 16th NHRA Funny Car championship last October in Las Vegas by beating Courtney in the penultimate contest of the 24-race season. That victory allowed now 65-year-old Force to come into the year-end finale at Pomona without a worry - he’d already amassed sufficient points to earn his sweet sixteenth title. He exulted over a despondent Courtney that fall day; photos of both Force family members in Victory Lane last Sunday at Sonoma told the flip-flop of that story - Courtney looked radiant with her win while her dad looked a wee bit despondent.
Courtney's been on a tear
Courtney Force has been a record-setter this year, earning the 100th win by a woman in NHRA drag racing, accomplishing that mark in her second try at Kansas (in her first attempt to take the mark, Hight beat C. Force in the Houston finale). Yet despite her many final round appearances and two victories this season, Courtney lies fourth in the standings, behind five-time winner Hight, her father (two wins) and consistent, one-race-winner Ron Capps. John Force clinched his spot in the six-race Countdown to the Championship with his runner-up slot at Sonoma; only he and Hight are sure bets but Courtney is knocking on the door.
I like to keep my same routine....I think it helps us to do better
Even as her father has switched crews and cars in his attempt to earn that 16th flopper title, daughter Courtney Force’s team has been the model of consistency. Since her rookie year, when she earned the Auto Club Road to the Future rookie award, Courtney Force has worked with the same co-crew chiefs, Ron Douglas and Danny Hood - the latter her brother-in-law. She thinks her “entire team is definitely getting better,” even though they’ve changed chassis and setups along the way. “I like to keep my same routine - it makes me comfortable and I think it makes everybody else comfortable. I think it helps us to do better.”
After going through discomfort with her seating position earlier in the year, Courtney Force has been the model of improvement and she has been getting better. “I’m getting more comfortable in the seat, trying harder, working on my lights, leaving better and I actually put a lot more pressure on myself now in my third season because now I’m looking at, well, maybe we do have a championship car.”
She just might be looking at that big Wally her father John claimed 16 times and her brother-in-law Robert Hight took home in 2009. At the very least, the 2014 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Funny Car Countdown to the Championship looks very much like it could be a Force Family Feud.