This year was a roller-coaster ride for John Force Racing in NHRA Mello Yello competition.
After earning both Top Fuel and Funny Car championships in 2017, the year began with T/F champion Brittany Force suffering a massive accident in the first race of the year at Pomona. She wasn’t the only Force family member going through difficulties, as 16-time Funny Car champion and team patriarch John Force had repeated problems with car control, engine explosions and a crash at Phoenix that sent him, momentarily, to hospital.
Brittany Force recovered from her first major accident to earn a Wally winner’s trophy in Houston; it would be her sole victory of the 24-race season, but consistency still allowed her to finish the year in fifth place overall. Still, Brittany never seemed to have the confidence she displayed in her championship-winning season. The team had to build a new car after her Race 1 wreck; it definitely put them behind the eight-ball.
Youngest sister Courtney Force had a magnificent year – even if it stopped at the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals – racking up four victories in an 18-race span that had her atop the Funny Car standings as the six-race Countdown to the Championship began in Reading, PA. While recording her best NHRA season yet with 11 No. 1 qualifiers, Courtney’s season fell apart when it needed to be at its strongest, relegating her to sixth in the point standings.
Company president and 2017 Funny Car champion Robert Hight looked strong as the season progressed, but when his Chevrolet Camaro exploded as he was winning the final round at Gateway, the injury looked to be a season-stopper. Nevertheless he persevered and won the following race at Texas. Hight accumulated four wins on the year to amass a total of 45 victories in his 14 seasons of competition; he’s won a race every year he’s competed, which is a remarkable streak. He finished the season second to new champ J.R. Todd.
The patriarch, John Force, emerged from the year with a ninth-place result and a single victory in Denver, giving the ageless competitor a total of 149 victories in his amazing career. The 69-year-old veteran ended the year with a record of 25-22, the 32nd year he’s won more racing rounds than he’s lost and the 36th year he’s finished in the Top 10.
“Obviously not the season we set out for,” John Force admitted. “We set out every day to win; that’s our job. Courtney was on fire all year, Robert got hot at the end, thought we had something there. I was on fire – just not in the right way. We’ll call it bad luck.
“We’re already looking to 2019,” the team leader said. “It’s not just about making it in the Countdown; it’s about winning the championship, and that’s what we’re going after next year. I had a bad year, but I’m getting right for next season.”