BRITTANY FORCE No. 3 FRIDAY IN DENVER
DENVER, CO – Rookie of the Year candidate Brittany Force finished her first day on the mountain at Bandimere Speedway with a solid 3.926 second run which was good enough to hold down the No. 3 qualifying spot heading into Saturday. The Castrol EDGE Top Fuel dragster’s previous best qualifying effort was No. 8 in Bristol. The crew chief trio of Dean Antonelli, Eric Lane and Richard Hogan gave the young driver a great tune-up in a brand new Hadman dragster today.
In the first session Force only took the dragster to half-track but the early numbers were quick enough to put her in the top half of the field. She stepped up her performance in the second session has the Automobile Club Road to the Future contender excited about the prospect of success at Bandimere Speedway.
“We came out here with a new car,” Force said. “We are building a brand new car, but it wasn’t going to be ready in time for the Western Swing, so Steve Torrence was kind enough to give us one of his. I flew out to Indianapolis last week and got fitted for it. We only ran it to half-track on the first qualifying pass which was the plan, just to make sure everything ran good and that I felt comfortable in the car. We ran a 4.307 just going to half-track, so I was pretty stoked about that. I knew we were going to make a good second qualifying pass.”
In between rounds, Force met with Denver fans at the John Force Racing Midway display where she signed autographs and took photos. The Cal State-Fullerton graduate always enjoys meeting new fans and hearing about their race day experience.
“I love being here in Denver,” Force said. “The weather is beautiful and I just love being out here as part of the Western Swing. The fans have been amazing and I’ve really enjoyed just meeting them out at the ropes and seeing their excitement in the grandstands.”
In her second qualifying pass, Force took it all the way down the track for a run of 3.926, shooting her straight to the second position. At the end of the night, Force ended up third, making this her best qualifying effort so far this season.
“The second run, we went down there and took it all the way to the lights and ran a 3.92,” Force said. “My Castrol EDGE team was so excited about that and we ended up third at the end of the night, which is exactly where we need to be. I’m excited going into Saturday. We’ll make two more passes and I’m just really excited to have this new car and to be out here at Bandimere Speedway. I think it’ll do some good things and I really think we’re going to kick some butt this weekend.”
In the Funny Car ranks the crew chief swap between John Force and Robert Hight got off to a strong start with Hight’s Automobile Club of Southern California Mustang posting the quickest ET of the first session. The Mike Neff tune-up tripped the scoreboard at 4.158 seconds and earned Hight three valuable qualifying bonus points. In the second session Hight stepped up with a 4.144 second run which had him sitting No. 7 going into Saturday.
“First off, I think I’m back in the top ten in points. I was only three points out and we got three points after the first run. I think we still out qualified the guy who was in the tenth spot, so going into Saturday we’re back in the Top Ten, so that’s pretty exciting,” said Hight, a two-time Mile-High Nationals winner.
“It went down the track both runs, dropped a cylinder early and then picked it back up, which is really odd. For me to get into a new car like this and with a new team to go down the track both runs is pretty impressive. I’m kind of lost because I’ve been over here so many years with (crew chief) Jimmy Prock and my guys that have stuck together for so long I kind of feel a little lost. The truth is, I didn’t abandon them; I didn’t leave them. We’re still all on the same team. It’s one big team and we’re still all going to work together and maybe John (Force) shuffling and moving people is going to get the best out of everybody.”
“(Crew chief) Mike Neff has always been good. I’ve known him since he started here and he’s an easy going guy. He motivates you, just like Jimmy did. We’re not going to have any problems whatsoever, I promise. It’s exciting,” concluded Hight.
John Force and the Jimmy Prock tuned Castrol GTX Mustang finished Friday as the No. 6 qualified Funny Car. In the second session Force covered the track in 4.140 seconds at 307.09 mph. It was Force’s executive decision to trade drivers and teams for the rest of the season.
“Our crew chiefs, they’re our family. And I loved working with Mike Neff, the change just needed to be made. I knew Jimmy Prock when he was a little kid. I watched him with his dad (Tom Prock) with The Detroit Tiger and Tom and Jerry’s Funny Car and I just love being over here with him. I think this is going to be a good change. I’m having fun. I had fun with Neff, but sometimes you gotta stir it up. This team over here opened their arms to me. I’m pretty old, but they still like me,” said Force, the 15-time NHRA Funny Car champion.
“Courtney ran great. She was on a run in that Traxxas Ford, but it got in trouble out there at about 500 feet. I was amazed because I thought she had it. Robert was low ET with Neff first round so that was awesome to see. And we stepped back up in the top half of the field. That dragster has been great so far. It was bumped down to third, but that’s the best qualifying spot Brittany has had all year,” added Force.
Courtney Force came out strong on the first day of the Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals today, but missed the Top 12 by .021 of a second. She will have two more qualifying attempts on Saturday to make the show.
Force posted a 4.192 ET at 307.93 mph in the opening round. She set the track speed record with this pass and was third-quickest of the session, adding one qualifying bonus point to the 25-year-old’s total in the NHRA Mello Yello series point standings.
“After a roller coaster of a week, it feels great to be out at the race track. On our first pass today we went to the No. 3 spot, set a track speed record and picked up one point. Those bonus points help so much because they all add up at the end of the season and they can make a huge difference. It felt to come out and make a great run like that right away,” said Force.
Force had some bad luck in the second session, when her car spun the tires at about 500 feet.
“On the second pass we tried to push it a lot harder, obviously because the track had cooled down and we wanted to get after it to go for that top spot. It spun the tires down track and moved around so I had to get out of it. We slid down quite a few spot with everyone else moving up and around us, but I’m confident in our team and car and we’re going to get back after it tomorrow,” said Force.