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Danica who? Women already winning NHRA races

Feb 26, 2013, 5:24 PM EDT

NHRA Auto Racing AP

While much focus and ink has been drawn to Danica Patrick’s pole position and eighth place finish in this year’s Daytona 500, on the other coast two women have already opened the year in Victory Lane in the NHRA.

In her second season, John Force’s daughter Courtney (right) led off the year with a win in the Funny Car division in Pomona, Calif. The win was Force’s second, after her first win in her 15th career start last year at Seattle. Courtney’s 24 and her 26-year-old sister, Brittany, is a rookie in the Top Fuel dragster category this year.

Always outspoken, John Force told AZCentral.com leading up to last weekend’s race in Phoenix that the Danica discussion is overdone.

“I get that Danica got the pole is a big deal, but it is not like she delivered the baby Jesus,” he said.

While the Force daughters progress in their years, Pro Stock also has a female winner so far in Erica Enders-Stevens. Her breakthrough season came a year ago with four wins and a career-best fourth place finish in the final points standings. She won her class at Phoenix last weekend.

“Coming off the season we had last year and starting the way that we did this year, it was kind of a gut check in that we wonder if we can ever get it done again,” Enders-Stevens said. “ But our guys proved that they can pick up where they left off, and I’m excited.”

In the NHRA, success for female drivers is nothing new. Shirley Muldowney paved the way with a legendary career that included three Top Fuel championships (1977, 1980, 1982). Angelle Sampey has also won NHRA titles in the Pro Stock Motorcycle category. Melanie Troxel is one of only 14 NHRA drivers to have won in both Top Fuel and Funny Car.

The two Force daughters follow in the footsteps of their older sister Ashley Force Hood, who was a race winner in Funny Car and has since stepped out of the cockpit to focus on motherhood.

The NHRA races next in Gainesville, Florida from March 14-17.

  1. hwatt - Feb 27, 2013 at 1:08 PM

    why is the article comparing drag racing to nascar? It’s like comparing AA baseball to the MLB. Fishing a little too hard for hits, ppl.

    The quote in and of itself is fair though. She won a time trial, but the media was honestly acting like she won the final event and began a dynasty.

    • classicsportsfan - Feb 27, 2013 at 1:30 PM

      Agreed. They’ve been trying to push a mediocre on-track talent for years because she’s a license to print money.

    • brentsn - Feb 27, 2013 at 7:24 PM

      Funny how all these years the Daytona (or any) pole winner was a big deal.When Danica does it , its just a “time trial” and the media makes a big deal about it. The big deal was made because for the first time ever a female did it. A big deal was made because this was only her 11th cup start ever! She started her 11th cup race next to a guy with 87 WINS , she was 3rd on lap 199,she finished top 10 in the race won by a 5-time champion. Oh and she lead under green in 2nd half of race.These are things only a real racer can do. Daytona is the great American race,yet when Danica does well,its just a restrictor plate race that anybody can do well. You haters kill me LOL

  2. ezwriter69 - Feb 27, 2013 at 2:24 PM

    Force is a hundred years old and still competing, Garlits was like 70 when he quit… if you can flex your right foot, you can drag race. You have to have the guts to keep the foot down, and the reaction times and composure to time the light. Period. Almost anyone can do it, if they have some courage. I don’t say this to demean them, but it’s truth.
    As for Danica, however, don’t forget that David Ragan, Trevor Bayne, and Mikey Waltrip all won restrictor plate races at Daytona, doing well there doesn’t mean squat as to whether Danica will be competitive in real racing this year. Last year she had zero competitive races non-plate tracks in either Sprint or Nationwide, even with top rate cars, other than at road courses. I see no reason to think it will be any different this year. You can’t make the chase when you’re only competitive at six races a year, and in Sprint Cup she probably won’t be that good in road courses either, she wasn’t in IRL.

    • Gary P Jackson - Feb 27, 2013 at 2:54 PM

      Have YOU ever driven a 330 mph race car? A Funny Car accelerates faster than an F16 being catapulted off an air craft carrier. At launch, the driver feels twice the gforce that an astronaut in the space shuttle does. Oh, and just 4 seconds later, the driver experiences 4 times that amount of NEGATIVE gforce.

      If you think driving a wheel driven vehicle that weighs just a taste over 2000 pounds and has more than 10,000 horsepower is easy, then you are stupid. It’s a hell of a lot more than “stab and steer” Ask Antron Brown.

      Oh, and Force is in his early 60s and still winning rounds.

      • brentsn - Feb 27, 2013 at 7:05 PM

        Gary , don’t waste your time trying. When people are ignorant and don’t understand something,they mouth off anyway and it just comes out stupid. Its really not their fault,they honestly don’t know any better. They just need to excercise their thoughts on things they know.These first few comments were all ignorant until yours. Comparing Nascar to NHRA IS a ridiculous thought. Both take skills that only a special few can do.The aa to major league baseball comparison is just a flat out stupid comparison.NHRA,INDYCAR,F1,NASCAR are all equally professional sports that take a TON of talent to compete at the top levels.

  3. purplesectornet - Mar 4, 2013 at 1:34 PM

    Oh please – I’m sure the NHRA takes skill but to say it’s equal? I can keep naming more series…DTM, Aussie V8, WRC, BTCC…sorry dude but you are smoking something…

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