BRISTOL, Tenn. (June 10, 2023) – John Force and the BlueDEF PLATINUM Chevrolet Camaro SS team raced their way to the final round of the postponed NHRA New England Nationals contested at Bristol Dragway. Brittany Force and the Monster Energy team as well as Robert Hight with the AAA Northern New England Chevy had quarterfinal finishes while Austin Prock and the Montana Brand / Rocky Mountain Twist team had a first round exit.
After picking up a first-round victory on Friday night over Tim Wilkerson, Force and the BlueDEF Chevy matched up with Alex Laughlin for the quarterfinals. Laughlin was the 150th different driver Force has faced in his career. The 16-time champion driver would have a 4.090-second pass at 318.54 mph to defeat Laughlin’s 5.204 at 153.06 after he smoked the tires.
In the semifinals, Force lined up next to J.R. Todd. With a .049-second reaction time and 4.105-second pass at 319.07 mph, Force and the BlueDEF team defeated Todd on a holeshot. Todd would have a 4.098 at 319.90.
Racing against longtime rival Bob Tasca III in the finals, Force would classically stage deep looking for the starting line advantage. His starting line strategy wouldn’t be enough for Tasca. Force would cross the finish line at 4.085 seconds and 320.51 mph but fall short to Tasca’s 4.032 at 304.32. For making it into the semifinals of the New England Nationals Force automatically competed in the Mission Foods #2Fast2Tasty Challenge and finished runner-up to earn two championship points to be added at the conclusion of the regular season and $3,000.
“It would have been nice to have won the Epping, N.H. NHRA New England Nationals race and the Mission Foods #2Fast2Tasty Challenge, but I didn’t get the job done,” Force said. “We had a good race BlueDEF race car which keeps Chevrolet, PEAK, and all our sponsors happy. Cornwell was out at the track with a lot of their customers this weekend too. We’ll get back in the game tomorrow morning. It’s a new day and a new race tomorrow morning.”
Already with the first-round win over Alexis DeJoria, Robert Hight and the AAA Northern New England Chevrolet Camaro SS finished the NHRA New England Nationals in the quarterfinals with a 4.441-second pass at 202 mph which wasn’t enough for eventual race winner Bob Tasca III’s 4.418 at 267.69.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve crossed the finish line like that. It happens, you’re out here racing for a round win and it’s greasy. We put four cylinders out on one side so it turned on me in a hurry. Usually, you can catch it pretty quick but that one got me,” Hight said. “Anyways, sorry to the fans, to AAA and Cornwell and Chevy, we could have gotten another round win there.”
After defeating Josh Hart in the first round on Friday, Brittany Force and the Monster Energy team wrapped up the New England Nationals with a quarterfinal exit running a 4.322-second pass at 274.05 mph that was bettered by eventual race winner Justin Ashley’s 5.097 at 255.92.
“Epping, the New England Nationals was a little bit of a struggle for this Monster Energy / Fla-R-Pac team,” Force said. “We got beat in the second round, but we still had a couple of good laps under our belt that set us up for qualifying for Bristol and hopefully a long race day.”
Austin Prock and the Montana Brand / RMT dragster had their try at the NHRA New England Nationals victory come to an end on Friday night. They lined up against Steve Torrence and came up short with a 3.787 at 326.08 to Torrence’s 3.753 at 329.10.
“It was a tough first-round loss last night for this Montana Brand / Rocky Mountain Twist team. There was a lot on the line that round and we came up short,” Prock said. “It’s frustrating but we will bounce back.”
The NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season continues with eliminations for the NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals at Bristol Dragway Sunday, June 11 at 10 a.m.