Drag racer’s engine goes up in flames, but she wins qualifying anyway

Car racing — any kind of racing — is dangerous, and the drivers take the bad with the good. But Friday during her first qualifying attempt, Courtney Force experienced what few can imagine when her engine exploded.

While prepping for the NHRA New England Nationals in New Hampshire, the 28-year-old driver took off in her Advance Auto Parts Chevy Camaro Funny Car for the initial qualifying run and in nearly an instant, her engine was on fire. Force was OK — able to leave the car by herself before being cleared by the NHRA medical staff — but the replay of the explosion looks truly awful.

Amazingly, Force still had the top qualifying speed at 331.53 miles per hour in a New England Dragway track elapsed-time record of 3.842 seconds.

Force’s husband, IndyCar Series driver Graham Rahal, tweeted about the incident Saturday morning as he gets ready for the Detroit Grand Prix while the NHRA qualifying continues Saturday afternoon.

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