A lot of stress comes along with the U.S. Nationals, but also a ton of excitement. We had a really crazy week leading up to the race, but I really enjoy promoting our sport, especially for this race. The U.S. Nationals event at Indy is the Super Bowl of NHRA drag racing, so there is a lot of media to kick off the event.
I had the opportunity to throw out the first pitch at the Indianapolis Indians game the Monday before the race weekend. I've never thrown out the first pitch at any game before so it was really cool, especially since it was for the Indians -- John Force Racing is based in the area.
On Wednesday, I did a full day of media in downtown Indianapolis. I was on the local show "Indy Style" with fellow female Funny Car driver Alexis DeJoria. I also chatted with some pretty cool radio hosts on different radio stations.
We had our annual John Force Racing summer car show at our shop in Brownsburg, Ind., on Thursday. This is always a blast for us because it's such a big event for John Force Racing. Many in the local and racing communities look forward to it every year because it's like a vacation for them. All the JFR drivers, including my sisters and Bob Tasca III, attended, signed autographs and took pictures with the fans. I look forward to this every year because it really gets the fans excited for the upcoming race, and it gives them a chance to see the shop where our race teams work, which is rarely open to the public. They get a chance to walk through our machine shop, museum and merchandise store and check out our Funny Cars, old and new, as well as a mixture of all makes and models of show cars.
U.S. Nationals is not just the biggest race of the season, it is also the final race before the top-10 drivers are locked into their positions to battle it out in the Countdown to the Championship. I'm currently sitting sixth in points in the Funny Car category and really need to do well at Indy to lock myself into the top 10 to fight for the title along with "the boys" of the sport!
Besides the fact that the race alone is a big deal, this year my sponsor has added a specialty "race within a race" called the Traxxas Nitro Shootout. Only eight drivers in both Funny Car and Top Fuel get to compete for the $100,000 and a shot at doubling up on wins for the weekend. The final spot for the Traxxas Nitro Shootout was left to a fan vote and lottery. They drew a winner downtown at the NHRA Fan Fest the Wednesday before the race and I was the lucky winner!
It's so exciting that Traxxas has brought back this specialty race for the Top Fuel Dragsters and Funny Car categories, and even better that they give any driver a shot at that last open spot. I'm so excited to be racing it.
We had a lot of rain over the race weekend and it ended up delaying qualifying and eliminations. We got through only three of the five qualifying runs and I managed to grab the No. 1 qualifying spot Saturday, when I ran my career-best elapsed time of 4.04 seconds and set the track speed record at 317 mph! It was even better because I was a guest on "Wind Tunnel" on SPEED the very next day and I got to talk about being No. 1 qualifier.
I'm so excited to have run such great numbers and I was ready to go into eliminations, but because of the rain we won't be able to finish qualifying until next weekend. I have so many mixed emotions because I had my energy up and was excited and confident, feeling like I had a great car going into the biggest race of the season, but now my No. 1 spot has the potential of being taken away from me next weekend. It's definitely a bummer to have to stick it out for a week, but I'll be ready to go when they let us fire up our Funny Cars on Saturday and hope to give everyone a run for their money!