Brittany Force, daughter of NHRA racing legend John Force, figures to be among the main competitors in the Top Fuel class of the Midwest Nationals, which start Friday and conclude Sunday.
MADISON — Brittany Force is the second-youngest daughter of NHRA racing legend John Force, so the force should be with her this weekend at Gateway Motorsports Park.
The second-year driver figures to be among the main competitors in the Top Fuel class of the Midwest Nationals, which start Friday and conclude Sunday.
“My team’s focus is to put our best effort into these final four races so we can stand a chance next to all our tough competitors,” said Force, 10th in the points chase.
She added, “The entire team feels this pressure, but we are ready to dive right into it. I will admit there is definitely an added pressure going into the Countdown. I think it’s the combination of competing in my first Countdown ever but also knowing that every move you make can cost you. At this point in the game you can’t afford too many mistakes. Every pass we make has to count.”
Antron Brown (Top Fuel), John Force (Funny Car), Erica Enders-Stevens (Pro Stock) and Matt Smith (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of the event, which will once again be televised nationally on ESPN2.
John Force is a 16-time NHRA champion and the biggest name on the circuit. Daughters Ashley and Courtney also compete in NHRA and both of them, along with Brittany, have reigned as Rookies of the Year. Brittany secured that honor in 2013.
The Midwest Nationals mark the halfway point of the six-race NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship and is the third of four consecutive race weekends.
The event also features competition in the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series and Pro Mod Drag Racing Series. In addition, eliminations for the Carolina Nationals Pro Mod race will be completed at this event.
The main racing series starts with qualifying at 2:15 and 4:45 Friday. The final two qualifying sessions will take place at 1:15 and 3:45 p.m. Saturday. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. Sunday.
For ticket information, call Gateway Motorsports Park at (855) RACE-TIK (722-3845) or visit www.gatewaymsp.com.
Brittany Force fell in the first round of the first race in the Countdown to the Championship and those struggles continued recently at the Texas Motorplex in Dallas.
Thus, she’s seeking a turnaround at Gateway, where family members have done well. If she has a strong showing this weekend, it could erase the struggles of the past two races.
“We are bummed,” Force said after the Dallas race. “This was not the plan. Every run counts and we need to go rounds. We are going to hold our heads up. We will get ready for the next race and keep trying hard.”
She said, “Taking home a win at any point in this 2014 season would be unreal. With the Countdown in full swing, going after our first win is at the top of our list. Our team has a lot to do, but it is nothing we aren’t capable of handling. Our plan with the final races is to no longer make minor mistakes and to make every run count. “
It’ll be a daunting task this weekend. Brown has enjoyed repeated success at Gateway. The 2012 world champ is the two-time defending winner of the St. Louis event in Top Fuel.
Tony Schumacher has taken command of the points lead in Top Fuel. Other championship contenders in the Countdown are defending world champion Shawn Langdon, Spencer Massey, Doug Kalitta, Khalid alBalooshi, Steve Torrence, J.R. Todd and rookie Richie Crampton.
“To earn a win before our season ends would be an incredible feeling and truly a huge accomplishment,” Force said. “It’s something I want so much.”
In Funny Car, points leader John Force used the Gateway race as a springboard to his 2013 world championship. He has three wins at the facility. Ron Capps also has three St. Louis wins and is among a list of challengers trying to unseat Force.
Featured in that group are Robert Hight, Courtney Force, Matt Hagan, Alexis DeJoria, Tommy Johnson Jr., Springfield’s Tim Wilkerson, Cruz Pedregon and Del Worsham.
Enders-Stevens is eyeing more good things in Pro Stock. She is the two-time defending winner here and has four wins on the season. However, Jason Line is the points leader.
Reigning champ Jeg Coughlin leads a list of championship hopefuls in Pro Stock, which also features Allen Johnson, Dave Connolly, Vincent Nobile, Chris McGaha, Shane Gray and Jonathan Gray.
Matt Smith was victorious in Pro Stock Motorcycle last season en route to his second world championship. Smith is after his first win in 2014 while chasing the two-bike team of points leader Andrew Hines.
Points runner-up Eddie Krawiec, Hector Arana Jr., Hector Arana, Steve Johnson, Michael Ray, John Hall, Angie Smith and Scotty Pollacheck are all also in the title hunt.