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Brittany Force is hunting a third Top Fuel title. (NHRA photo)

Brittany Force Nominated For ‘Best Driver’ ESPY

Most drivers, regardless of what series or form of motorsports they race, elect not to focus on their on-track accomplishments until they feel their career is complete.

And following her successful Top Fuel title run last year, Brittany Force fell into the same category, as she immediately dove into the NHRA offseason to prepare for her 11th year of competition.

But over the last week, the 36-year-old has had an unexpected opportunity to ponder and reflect on what she achieved last season. Force was one of four drivers nominated for the ESPYS Best Driver Award, alongside Kyle Larson (NASCAR Cup Series), Josef Newgarden (NTT IndyCar Series) and Max Verstappen (Formula 1).

“I’m up against some heavy hitters,” Force said. “The other drivers are some big names in the motorsports industry, so just to be listed alongside them is pretty big for me.”

However, it’s not the first time Force has been in this position.

She was nominated for the award in 2018, after securing her inaugural Top Fuel title in 2017. While Force acknowledges it’s hard to top the feeling of becoming a world champion for the first time, she still believes her last season was just as momentous.  

“You spend years chasing (the championship) again, and that thought pops in your head of, ‘Can I do it again? Did we get lucky?’” Force said, referring to the five-year gap between her titles.

In 2019, she took a risk and built an entirely new team at John Force Racing.

Crew chiefs David Grubnic and Mac Savage replaced Brian Husen, who had led Force during her 2017 championship run. Advance Auto Parts became the primary sponsor on her dragster. And every single crew member was new.

Brittany Force dominated the 2022 season in her Monster Energy/Flav-R-Pac dragster. (NHRA photo)

“It took us awhile to figure our footing out. But it was only a few years before we won a championship, so that one’s really special to me, because it was a first championship for every single one of my guys, including my crew chief,” Force said.

The Monster Energy/Flav-R-Pac dragster team was nothing but dominant last season, as they stacked up five national event wins, set 16 track records and re-set the national speed record to 338.94 mph.

The midpoint of the six-race Countdown to the Championship playoff stretch marked the biggest bump in the road for Force, as she stumbled out of the points lead and struggled to reclaim it from Justin Ashley.

But even in the depths of frustration, the John Force Racing team kept its cool.

“All season long we were going semifinals, finals every single weekend. And (in the Countdown) we couldn’t even get past second round,” Force recalled. “But we never let that doubt come in our minds. We had team meetings every single weekend and we’d say, ‘Okay, it’s still ours. It’s our championship and we believe it.’”

Belief became reality for the crew at the Auto Club NHRA Finals in Pomona, Calif., on Nov. 13, when Force was crowned champion for the second time in her career.

Six months later, she’s reliving the exuberant moment with her ESPY nomination.

“To win it would be the icing on our 2022 championship cake,” Force said.

She is the third Force to be selected for the “Best Driver Award.” Her father, 16-time Funny Car champion John Force, was nominated six times and her sister, Ashley Force-Hood, was nominated in 2008.

Force is also the fifth NHRA driver to be nominated for an ESPY multiple times. Other than her dad, the remaining multi-time NHRA nominees are Tony Schumacher, Greg Anderson, Erica Enders and Steve Torrence.

Despite their presence on the ballot, no NHRA driver has ever won the award. 

“If anyone should’ve won it, it should’ve been my dad,” Force said with a laugh. “It’s special to know that we all accomplished that throughout the years together, to share that title of an ESPY nominee with my sister and dad.”

The ESPYS will air Wednesday, July 12, at 8 p.m. (ET) on ABC. Fan vote is open until Sunday, July 9, at 8 p.m. (ET).