NHRA: Courtney Force hoping to mimic her dad's success at BIR
Ride: Advance Auto Parts Chevy Camaro SS
Crew chief: Danny Hood
Hometown: Yorba Linda, Calif.
Last year at BIR: Advanced to quarterfinal round
Current standing: First
While her father has the most victories ever at Brainerd International Raceway, Courtney Force would just like a bit of success.
The younger Force and her Advance Auto Parts Chevy Camaro SS team have been on fire the past two years, racking up four wins and 17 No. 1 qualifiers. She finished third in last year's point standings and leads this year's Funny Car Division by 154 points over Ron Capps.
She owns a 32-12 round record and, along with her four victories, has advanced to two other final rounds. But Friday through Sunday, Aug. 17-19, she enters the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, an event that has not brought her any luck.
A change would do her good.
"It would be pretty big," Force said. "We're in a good spot with the points for now at least. We would definitely like to keep it that way, especially going into U.S. Nationals.
"I feel like we have a more consistent car. I think we've proven that with the number of No. 1 qualifiers that we've had and the few wins that we've had so far this season. I feel a lot better going into Brainerd, but again I'm going to have to work pretty hard at it since we've struggled at this track in the past.
"But it's a pretty important race for our team and if we want the Advanced Auto Parts team to stay in the lead, we have to make some changes this year."
Last year, Force qualified fourth, but trouble in the quarterfinal round ended her weekend. She did advance to the semifinals in 2016 but three opening-round losses, and another quarterfinal loss in 2013, fill out Force's BIR resume.
"I'm not sure to be completely honest," Force said about her struggles at BIR. "I don't have a reason. I know last year we always had a pretty consistent car at qualifying and we kind of lost that on race day. I just think we need to run consistent and keep the car running strong through all qualifying and race day as well.
"We'll get to the track and see how the car runs during qualifying and try to go from there."
After a slow start to the season, Force has been in at least the top four in points all year. She secured the No. 1 spot after a win in Atlanta. She followed that with a win at Topeka and two events later with another win at Richmond.
She lost to Matt Hagan in the Norwalk final and is coming off a finals loss to Capps at Seattle.
Last year's No. 4 qualifying spot was Force's best at BIR, but her team has gotten out of the trailer fast the past two seasons. Aside from a 13th at Epping this year, Force's worst starting spot in the ladder was two fourths. With 10 No. 1 qualifiers this year alone, a fast start usually means a long weekend.
"We've been very fortunate," Force said. "We have a really great team and everything has come together. I have a great crew chief and everyone is working together really well. It's been a really positive thing that everyone has just jelled together. We had Brian Corradi come on board this year, working with Dan Hood as my crew chief. They've just done a phenomenal job."
Force is hoping for another quick start and with Indianapolis the next event and its points and half-reward system, winning at BIR would mean a lot to Force, who watched her dad, John, win so many times before there.
"It's always a fun track," Force said. "This is the one I always tell people who haven't gone to a race. I always say if you're looking for a good time Brainerd is the spot. The Zoo is kind of the off-limits spot for me because my dad has always just driven me through it, but has never let me go into it.
"It's just a good time. The track has always been good. The fans are going there for a good time and they're looking to watch some good racing. All around, it's just a great atmosphere. It's a full family sport. Every ticket is a full pit pass. It's just a good time for the fans."