Top Eliminator! Monster Energy’s Brittany Force lights up the 35th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals
In a 10,000 horsepower shock and awe pass punctuated by boiled rubber and spent nitromethane, Brittany Force, aged 29, guided her Monster Energy Top Fuel dragster down the 1000-foot strip of asphalt based in Brainerd, Minnesota to win the 35th annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals. Taking the measure of two-time world champion Anton Brown in the meet’s final round, it was the Californian’s third won of the 2016 NHRA campaign..
“It’s just awesome to be able to win here,” beamed Force after climbing out of her Nitro chugging Monster Energy ride. “I felt good coming in here this weekend just because we had some success (runner-up finish) last year. We had been struggling a little bit and to come out here and get the win is exactly where we want to be going to the Countdown and the biggest race of our season in Indy (the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals), so we’re exactly where we want to be. I have to say thank you to my entire Monster Energy team for all their hard work, and it feels so good to bring home another win.
“Being able to come here last year and go to the finals and not quite get it, we just wanted to completely finish it this weekend,” continued Force. “So it feels good to do that. Actually, this is kind of a new track for me. I’d been to just about every track on the circuit as a kid coming out and watching my dad, but this was actually a new one for me in 2013. So to be able to win here is pretty awesome.”
On the last run the last run of the day the motor on her Monster Energy Top Fuel dragster exploded just before the finish line. When Force, now a three-time winner in 2016, stopped her dragster it was still on fire but that did not dampen the enthusiasm for getting another win.
“It was definitely a crazy one,” offered Force of the final round pass. “If we’re going to blow everything up, at least turn on a win light and we did that. I didn’t see Antron (Brown) next to me. I had no clue where he was, what he was doing. But I just had to keep my foot into it and I just felt it blow up and felt the tug and as long as I could hang on until I got to that 1,000-foot stripe and get the win light, and it did. I jumped out of the car and saw that it was on fire, but we’re in the winner’s circle.”
Brainerd marked the fourth time for Force pulled up beside Brown in a final round and in the previous three appearances the 2013 Rookie of the Year came up on the losing end. Last year at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals Force picked up her first and only round win against Brown in the semifinals. In addition to Brown, Force had to defeat 2013 world champion Shawn Langdon in the semifinals today and veteran Doug Kalitta in the second round to fight her way into the final round winner-take-all showdown.
“I definitely think it makes this one a very special one. All those guys we took down to get to the winner’s circle, none of them are easy,” explained Force in the BIR press room. “They are some of the best drivers out here, so to be able to be lined up against them and turn to win light on I think makes the entire team proud. This race was important. We wanted to get win last year and didn't; we're coming after it. I'm going against Antron. I'm ready for this one. We want to take the win home today.”