Courtney Force cleared to continue Funny Car racing
The most recent fear among those who follow the NHRA was simple: Would Courtney Force be well enough to return to Funny Car racing at this weekend's Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals in Brainerd.
The answer is out. Courtney will miss nothing. She will behind the wheel of a new Traxxas Chevrolet on what she hopes is a path to victory.
“I am excited to get back in the seat,” Courtney stated when asked about the return. “After how I last left the track I am definitely ready to get back in the car and go down the race track. I have been going through physical therapy every day. I have been working with Dr. Ortmeyer who is the same doctor that worked with my dad after his crash. I am seeing huge progress every day with my knee. I have gone from being on crutches the first couple of days to getting comfortable walking on it to being able to bend it all the way now. We have gone through a crash course of rehab. I definitely feel good enough to be back in the race car. That’s my throttle leg so I will be ready to pound on the throttle for sure.”
Feeling better about her knee also means Courtney is headache free. Free of the fear she would be forced to sit out a race.
“I didn’t want to lose out on racing Brainerd because this is the time to get everything in order for Indy and the Countdown. We had planned on front halving my Traxxas Chevy after Seattle. If anything if you had to crash a car that was a good time to do it since we were already planning on doing a lot of work between races. You never want to crash but thankfully I have great guys at the shop in Indy that were ready to go to work on it. Since my team had to do so much extra work I sent them a deal called a “Man-crate” full of beef jerky and different kinds of nuts to say I was sorry for crashing the car.
“Going into Brainerd this is huge because you need to get prepared to go into the U.S. Nationals. I feel like I have a little bit of time to get back into my rhythm and focused on racing. From here on out the main focus is the championship. We are using Brainerd and Indy to really get ready for the Countdown. I want to mentally and physically be ready to go for it.”
In addition to feeling better physically, Courtney also feels better about how the performance of the race team has improved greatly since last season.
“This is a huge turnaround from where we were last year,” Courtney said. “I think this is the best shot at the championship we have ever had. We are hopefully going into the Countdown in the No. 2 spot. We are trying to hold onto that position right now with two races left. Being in that spot would give us a lead going into the last six races of the rest of the Top Ten for the championship. This is definitely a huge difference from where we were a year ago. I love the team that I am with and the crew chiefs I am working with. The car they have given me definitely feels like the most consistent race car I have ever had in my five years of racing Funny cars. I am thrilled about that as a driver. This is the best time for me to really be on my game with reaction times. I have really been trying hard to be the most consistent that I have ever been before. If we can get everything right we definitely would have the full package. I think we have a great shot of going after the championship this year. I am not going to let that slip away.”
The color of her new Traxxas car is also a big plus according to Courtney.
“I am going to run a cool blue Traxxas Camaro for Brainerd and Indy. It is kind of an electric blue with lightning bolts running through it. It is a nice change from the multi-colored Funny Cars which I also loved. It gets people talking about what is coming next.“