B Force Las Vegas
Brittany Force finished in the semifinals at the 4-Wide Nationals at Las Vegas. (NHRA photo)

NHRA Notes: Hot-And-Cold Start For Brittany Force

It’s been a hot-and-cold start to the year for Brittany Force, who ended last season without logging a single victory.

In the four races run thus far, the two-time Top Fuel champion has recorded two first-round losses and two semifinal appearances — tying her for eighth in the standings following the NHRA 4-Wide Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Though it’s not where Force wants to be, her performance in the Nevada desert provided hope that things will turnaround.

“Our car was running with everyone else. We qualified fifth and first round we came out and ran a 3.75, which was outstanding,” Force recalled.

A slow reaction time cost the Monster Energy-sponsored dragster team in the semifinals — which the 37-year-old admitted she was beating herself up over — but regardless, it was one of her better finishes of the season.

She added, “I feel like our race car is definitely coming around. We struggled last year with it and the beginning of the season, but now it’s starting to run consistent and starting to put good ETs on the board.”

First Times At The Four Wides

There were several noteworthy “firsts” that occurred during the NHRA 4-Wide Nationals across the Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock classes.

Reigning Top Fuel champion Doug Kalitta earned his first four-wide victory against Justin Ashley, Steve Torrence and Tony Stewart — a long-awaited accomplishment for the Michigan native.

“I’ve been really hungry to try to pull off one of these. My Mac Tools guys really had my car running strong this week. We qualified low, and I think we were low of each session so it would have been quite a shame to miss this opportunity. Fortunately, we got it done,” said Kalitta, who was also the No. 1 qualifier in Las Vegas.

Five-time Pro Stock champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. also took home his inaugural four-wide Wally on Sunday. It completed his weekend sweet, as the Elite Motorsports driver also topped the qualifying charts and won Saturday’s Mission #2Fast2Tasty Challenge.

Finally, Bob Tasca III recorded the first triple-holeshot victory in the Funny Car division, flipping the win light due to his .034 reaction time at the line. It was his second four-wide victory.

Capps Back On Track?

Ron Capps made his first final round appearance of the season at the 4-Wide Nationals, finishing third to race winner Tasca and runner-up Austin Prock.

It was a step in the right direction for the three-time Funny Car champion and his self-owned Ron Capps Motorsports operation, who has struggled to dial in a new car that debuted at the beginning of the year.

“I can’t tell you how ecstatic I am with our NAPA Auto Care team and what they’ve done with a brand-new car and a lot of the new parts that they’ve had to get used to. It usually takes teams a lot longer than this,” Capps said.

Even so, it was a bittersweet performance for Capps, who couldn’t help but want more.

“I’m so happy we have our race car back, especially getting on a swing here where Guido (Antonelli) is getting comfortable. I’m so happy about the car, but I’m so bummed at the same time. It’s going to take a little bit to digest,” Capps said.

News Nuggets

During qualifying on Friday, Jasmine Salinas recorded her career-best speed (326.32 mph) in a Top Fuel car since taking over for her father Mike Salinas behind the wheel of the Scrappers Racing dragster.

The NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series will have a weekend off before resuming at zMAX Dragway in Concord, N.C., for a second consecutive round of four-wide racing.