Force of Nature Arrives In North Bay

Drag Racing's First Family lights up the hills this weekend in the NHRA Sonoma Nationals.

If anyone has the Nitro Gene, it's Courtney Force. Is that all she inherited from her father, drag racing legend John Force?

"Oh no, I've turned into my dad," Courtney said, alarmed, during an interview after hearing her father's words come out of her mouth. She might have developed some of John Force's rambling and engaging interview style, but that's not all she got from her dad. She's also got a fast car and a quick foot.

Courtney Force is sixth in the NHRA Funny Car standings as the drag racing series invades Sonoma this weekend, July 27-29, for the 14th of 23 races. The points will be reset among the top 10 drivers for the final six races: The Full Throttle Countdown to the Championship.

Her teammate and brother-in-law, Funny Car points leader Robert Hight, clinched his berth in the Countdown to the Championship in Denver last weekend. Teammate Mike Neff is third in the standings and can clinch a playoff berth this weekend. John Force, 10th in the points standings, has seven career victories in Sonoma.

“I’m very excited about coming to Sonoma. It’s a track I’m a little more familiar with, and it’s on the Western Swing, so it’s closer to home," said Courtney Force, who is in the middle of an annual tour that stops in Denver, Sonoma and Seattle. "I’m excited to get on the track and get locked into the Countdown. It’s going to be a great race. The fans are always great out there, and I’m looking forward to interacting with them all. It’s going to be a challenging race because everyone’s fighting to get into the Countdown. I just hope everyone comes out to watch because it’s going to be a great show. There’s nowhere else you can go to see a 300 mph car, so come on out.”

Courtney Force, 23, is still looking for her first Wally, the trophy awarded to the winners at each event. Her lone Top Alcohol Dragster victory came at Pacific Raceways in Seattle in 2009 in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series. She is one of several rookies competing for the $20,000 Auto Club Road to the Future Award in 2012.

Though she hasn't yet won any events this season, she can point to a major victory when she knocked out her father in the first round in Phoenix earlier this season. 

Of course, her family's success is well-known. John Force is a 15-time world champion and winner of 134 events.

Courtney's older sister, Ashley Force, became the first female to win a Funny Car race in 2008, won the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis two times and finished a career-high second in the point standings in 2009. She put her driving career on hiatus after the 2010 season to focus on her own family. She and her husband Dan Hood welcomed a son into the world last August, Jacob John Hood.

NHRA Sonoma Nationals

Friday through Sunday, July 27-29.

FRIDAY, July 27 - LUCAS OIL SERIES qualifying at 8:15 a.m.
FULL THROTTLE SERIES qualifying at 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.

SATURDAY, July 28 - LUCAS OIL SERIES eliminations begin at 8:15 a.m.
FULL THROTTLE SERIES qualifying at 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m.

SUNDAY, July 29 - Pre-race ceremonies, 10 a.m.
FULL THROTTLE SERIES eliminations begin at 11 a.m.

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