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Brittany Force Seeks first victory

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Entering her third season in Top Fuel on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series circuit, Brittany Force is still aiming to track down her first career victory.

That fact says more about the impressive competition in the Top Fuel class than it does about Force’s young career, which already includes a growing number of accolades. The 2013 Auto Club Road to the Future Award winner, Force has advanced to four final founds and also racked up three No. 1 qualifiers.

brittany2But that first victory has eluded her thus far, something Force hopes to change at the 46th annual Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals at Auto-Plus Raceway at Gainesville, March 12-15. It marks the third of 24 races in the 2015 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season and the tradition-rich drag race would mark an ideal location for Force to break into the win column in her 10,000-horsepower John Force Racing dragster.

“I am pumped and ready to get to the next race,” Force said. “I am proud of my entire team. We had two pretty good runs (in Phoenix) and got to the second round. We stepped it up in the second round so that was nice to see that performance improvement on race day. Going into Gainesville we will start all over again. Our plan will be to make some good runs and get a good qualifying spot.”

The traditional East Coast opener on the Mello Yello Series circuit will feature the biggest stars in the NHRA. Doug Kalitta (Top Fuel), Robert Hight (Funny Car), Allen Johnson (Pro Stock) and Steve Johnson (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were last year’s winners of the event that will once again be televised on ESPN2.

Force certainly qualifies as one of the biggest stars in the NHRA as she tries to climb the star-studded Top Fuel ranks headed by reigning world champion Tony Schumacher, who won the most recent event in Phoenix. Other standouts include Kalitta, Antron Brown, Spencer Massey, 2014 rookie of the year Richie Crampton, three-time world champ Larry Dixon, Amalie Motor Oil fan-favorite Terry McMillen, category newcomer Dave Connolly, last year’s series runner-up J.R. Todd and determined Texan Steve Torrence.

But Force continues to find her way, making steady improvement. That included her first appearance in the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship a season ago, but Force’s mindset is only on the present and that means improving at Gainesville.

“I try not to focus too much on last year,” Force said. “I have to focus on today and right now. It is tough out here. I know this team will put everything they can into this dragster and I will do my best job driving, and hopefully we’ll get that first win soon. I am just trying to get back into the groove of driving this Top Fuel dragster.”

That’s no easy task and Force doesn’t consider herself a veteran in that department by any stretch. After a first-round loss to start the 2015 season in Pomona, Force picked up her first round win of the year in Phoenix, knocking off Torrence before falling to Kalitta in the quarterfinals.

Despite a talented team, led by crew chiefs Todd Smith and Ronnie Thompson, Force knows how vital seat time is for long-term success.

“Even going into my third season seat time is so important,” Force said. “I have been out of the seat for a while so now that we are getting the season started I am getting back in the groove. It takes a little while until you are 100 percent comfortable in the seat.”

That day is coming soon and Force will work diligently to get that to happen. She knows the potential is there, as evidenced by an extremely successful test session in Phoenix before the season started. The next step is putting those performances together on a consistent basis.

“We have a new team and some new guys, but I am excited,” Force said. “We jumped back into it and got off to a tough start but we got it turned around. You just want to get back in that groove, and you want to get comfortable and in the zone as quickly as possible.”

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