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Brittany Force Ready for Battle in Pep Boys Top Fuel All-Star Callout

When it comes to drag racing, Monster Energy Chevrolet dragster driver Brittany Force admits she’s a creature of habit. Be it qualifying or in eliminations, she likes to prepare for each round in a methodical fashion, not getting ahead of herself, but rather just focusing on the proverbial “one round at a time.”

But this Saturday, as part of the NHRA season-opening 55th Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla., Force and seven other Top Fuel drivers – including five former champions – will battle it out for $130,000 in prizes, a special trophy, cowboy-style belt and bragging rights on the line for the third annual Pep Boys NHRA All-Star Top Fuel Callout at legendary Gainesville Raceway.

 “It’s a unique event, two races in one at the Gatornationals,” said the two-time NHRA Top Fuel champion. “It’s just exciting to get on stage and hopefully get a chance to call somebody out. It makes it fun for the fans.”

But the third of 16-time Funny Car champion John Force’s four daughters admits the Callout format does impact drivers as they attempt to have strong qualifying runs for Sunday’s final eliminations of the main event.

“I don’t love it so much as a driver,” Force said of the Callout. “I’m very routine. I like to know who I’m going up against. But it’s a great show for the fans and it’s something different in our sport. We’re excited to kick off in Gainesville, it’s been a long offseason.”

Force begins her 12th year in NHRA competition this weekend. 

Despite earning No. 1 qualifier honors four times, Force finished seventh in the final standings, failed to win a race and reached a final round just once.

Force is concerned that The Callout could somewhat impact her pace as she goes through a not so usual weekend due to the extra rounds.

“There’s the mental load of it’s the first race of the season, you’ve been out of the car and out of competition since November,” Force said. “We went testing a few weeks ago but that’s different than competition, lining up next to somebody where every point matters till the end of the year.

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“Now you’re going in with this extra race within a race. So that puts extra pressure on you. You only get two qualifying runs (on Friday) before you get thrown into it, and you have to make decisions if you get the chance to call somebody out.

“So you don’t get a lot to work with. It’s kind of just taking a deep breath, focusing on doing your job like it’s any other run really, looking in your lane. You can’t worry about everything else going on. Crew chiefs are going to line you up, and you’re going to call out the car you think you could beat.”

Force has most of last year’s crew back for the new season, with one significant addition in veteran tuner John Collins, joining crew chief David Grubnic.

Force hopes a strong performance in both the Callout as well as the Gatornationals will help set the tone for 2024 and the goal of winning a third Top Fuel championship.

“It’s definitely challenging,” Force said. “The tricky thing about the All-Star Callout is you pull up there to make a run and you have to weigh is our focus on winning this run or trying to qualify well for Sunday?’ So it’s a battle for teams and crew chiefs to be able to do that.

“But again, it’s just pulling up there with all the confidence that you could do it, drivers are going to have to step up, and crew chiefs are going to have to make some really tough decisions. But at the end of the day, we all want that win.”

The Callout, which began in 2022, has a field composed of eight finishers from last season. The No. 1 seed will get to pick their first round opponent. Then, whoever earns the lowest ET of the first round gets to pick their opponent for the second round.

FS1 will carry a special feature highlighting the Callout Saturday at 9 p.m. ET.

This story was originally published on March 8, 2024. Drag Illustrated

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