FanFest fueled my weekend in Vegas
On Thursday night before the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals in Las Vegas, I signed autographs at the FanFest at the New York New York hotel and casino. It was like no autograph signing I have ever been to and the fans filled the room with an energy that got me motivated for the weekend at the track. There was a line around the building when we arrived and there were a ton of other NHRA drivers participating, which made the event even more memorable. I met a lot of fans and I was able to give away a couple of free tickets for the event to a couple of kids. There was a family in line with two little boys I met earlier.
The boys were waving their hands in the crowd and I wanted to make sure they would be able to come out to the track with their parents and watch some racing. The family even came up to me at the ropes during the weekend and thanked me again for the tickets. It was a great event for not only the fans but the drivers as well and I can’t wait to do it again!
During the FanFest I was sitting beside Alexis DeJoria and my brother-in-law Robert Hight, which made the event more enjoyable. Being able to have other girls to talk to on the Mello Yello Series makes things easier because we can relate to so many of the same things. I always have my sister Courtney I can talk to -- but the more girls on the road the better!
John Force showed up as the boss and my dad all rolled into one. He said he wanted to make sure I was settled in and doing my job but, in all truth I know he wanted to see the fans. He has always told me the fans will love you know matter how well you do on the track or how bad you screw up. He also told me the fans can give you that spark a driver needs before a run to get them motivated to go out and kill it on the track. My dad has giving me so much advice on driving over the years but this one I believe comes from the heart and has so much truth.
The FanFest really got me pumped up for the weekend. I was with a lot of the drivers which is exciting to know that on the track, and off the track, we are doing our job and taking care of the fans who make racing possible.
It was the best weekend my team has had so far. We made three really consistent runs in qualifying which made me more comfortable as a driver going into first round. We qualified in the top half of the field on Friday and eventually slipped to No. 11 but it was a relief to be qualified early on. Not having to worrying about making it into the show takes a lot of extra pressure off everyone’s shoulders.
I had a good feeling going into race day on Sunday because this is such a familiar track for me. I raced in Super Comp, A-fuel and even made my first full pass in my Top Fuel car in Las Vegas. I got my first round win on Sunday and the first round win in a Top Fuel car for John Force Racing which was such an honor and so exciting. I jumped out of the car screaming and hugged my dad. I remember telling my guys I was so proud of them and I couldn’t believe we were going to the second round.
Earning my first round win was a big accomplishment for my team and me. It is proof this dragster is headed in the right direction and we are going to do great thing this year. Going in to second round against Tony Schumacher was unreal to me as a rookie driver. I have wanted to race Tony Schumacher forever. He is the seven-time Top Fuel champion and is such a big name in the sport of drag racing. He has given me so much advice over the past year during my year of testing and has been someone I have looked up to as a driver. My dragster shook really hard so I lifted early and Tony went on to win the race. I am looking forward to running him again and can’t wait to head to Charlotte for the Dollar General Four Wide race in two weeks!