JFR IN TOP HALF HEADING INTO SONOMA RACE DAY
SONOMA, CA – It was a strong showing by John Force Racing today at Sonoma Raceway. Team leader and seven-time NHRA Sonoma Nationals winner John Force led the team as the No. 4 qualifier and showed that he will be a force to be reckoned with on race day. His Castrol GTX Ford Mustang Funny Car was the quickest Funny Car of both sessions today earning six valuable qualifying bonus points.
“We got a good ole hot rod, The Prock Rocket! Sometimes change is good. Mike Neff is doing great, ran 4.07 and Courtney ran 4.07, but they had a problem there in the final run. I’m going to go find out what happened. I ran for a couple of sessions, but tomorrow’s race day. I ran 4.06 today and an 4.02 last night. My biggest highlight is my daughter Brittany (Force) in that dragster. Pulling it out right there at the end in the Castrol EDGE dragster and making the show. I’m so excited about that,” said Force.
Force will race former teammate and protégé Tony Pedregon in the first round. Force has a career record of 59-26 against the two-time Mello Yello Funny Car champion and has never lost to him, 4-0, in the first round at Sonoma Raceway.
Force’s elapsed times today 4.078 and 4.062 seconds positioned the winningest Funny Car driver in NHRA history for success on race day.
“That’s what these kids do. Jimmy Prock swings for the fence, he doesn’t mess around,” said Force. “Him and Mike (Neff) are both great crew chiefs as well is Ron Douglas in the Funny Car. It was just time to me to mix them up and make some changes. Everything is good.”
The biggest race of the day for John Force Racing will be the match-up between No. 8 Robert Hight and No. 9 Bob Tasca III. Hight and Tasca are battling for a spot in the Top Ten. There is less than a round between to two Ford backed Funny Car teams. Hight trailered Tasca in first round here last year but so far in 2013 Tasca has had the upper hand. This will be the third race in a row for them to meet and Tasca has come out on top in the previous two meetings the first round in Norwalk and semi-finals last week in Denver.
“I’m still learning how Mike Neff operates. He had it loaded up this morning and we were really trying. We put some good numbers down, but it spun down track. I think he does that to kind of see where he is for tomorrow and what his limitations are. It was really close to making an awesome run this morning. It went this afternoon though,” said Hight.
“I actually like controlling my own destiny. That’s who we race is Bob Tasca III and if we can take him out, and go on and win this race, at least go some rounds, we’ve done our job and we’ll be back up there in the points. I don’t like relying on other people. I want to be able to do it ourselves, so I’m excited about tomorrow,” said Hight
Earlier this season they met in the second round in Topeka where Hight outran Tasca on the way to his first final round of the season. Hight was the third quickest of the first and last qualifying session at the Sonoma Nationals which offered the Auto Club Ford Mustang Funny Car team the best race day conditions.
After the last qualifying session was completed today, Courtney Force and her Traxxas Ford Mustang hung on to the No. 7 spot and will line up beside No. 10 qualifier Cruz Pedregon in the opening round of eliminations on Sunday.
Force ran a 4.05 on Friday night to qualify in the top half of the field and her time held through both of Saturday’s qualifying sessions.
In the first shot of improving her 4.05 today, Force’s Traxxas Ford Mustang smoked the tires and posted a 5.178 second elapsed time at 143.76 mph in the heat. Unfortunately, Force’s hot rod had an issue on the starting line that cost them their second run.
“Got our car qualified in the top half of the field. We tried some new stuff today. It didn’t really work in our favor; we had something lodged in the fuel system. (Crew chief) Ron (Douglas) told me to hit the emergency switch and shut it off, so I did. Obviously that’s why the chutes were deployed on the line.”
“You have to shut the car down as quickly as possible in a situation like that. We got back and figured out what went wrong. It’s a good thing that it happened to us today in qualifying and not on race day. We were able to fix it and make a change and get it back to normal for our first round match-up against Cruz,” said Force.
This will be the fourth time Force has faced Pedregon on race day. She is 1-3 versus Pedregon but her only round win was her only first round match-up with Cruz in Seattle on the way to her first win. She was the No. 12 qualifier that day.
“I’m excited that we have lane choice tomorrow and happy that we have a good car. It ran a 4.05 during qualifying last night and a 4.11 in the heat, so we know our car is capable of running in both types of conditions. We’re hoping we got most of our bad luck out of the way today and we’re looking forward to tomorrow,” said Force.
Force and her sister, Brittany, will also be taking part in the all-female track walk on Sunday at 9:30am. They will meet on stage and participate in a Q&A before walking down the Sonoma drag strip surrounded by fans before pre-race ceremonies.
“I’m looking forward to the first all-female track walk that I’ve done. It’s going to be exciting to take part in that with my sister Brittany and our good friend Alexis DeJoria. I’m definitely looking forward to it and being that close with the fans. It’s always cool to get the chance to do that on the track you’re getting ready to compete on. I’m excited,” said Force.
Castrol EDGE Top Fuel pilot Brittany Force had quite the two days of qualifying at Sonoma Raceway for the NHRA Sonoma Nationals. The first two rounds of qualifying were tough on the team as both times the dragster smoked the tires. Going in to Saturday’s qualifying sessions, Force and company were on the outside looking in.
“It’s always stressful when you have to get in on your last qualifying pass,” Force said. “Today I felt good. I felt confident. I have a great team behind me, great crew chiefs (Dean Antonelli, Eric Lane and Richard Hogan) so I was confident that they put together a good car and that we were going to get down there.”
Session three of qualifying once again challenged the Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future candidate, overpowering the car and smoking the tires at about half-track. However, Force’s crew chiefs Dean Antonelli and Eric Lane along with Richard Hogan and the rest of the Castrol EDGE team tuned the dragster just right for session four. After getting her first full pass of the weekend, Force ran a 3.86 ET, landing her 14th on the ladder and ultimately making the show.
“First run out today it smoked the tires,” Force said. “We didn’t get down there too far. It didn’t even pass 60 feet before it smoked the tires. Second run we made it down the track. It was quite a ride for me right there at the finish line. Right around probably 700 feet it was skating around, think it had a hole out, it was shaking and I just stayed in it. I knew we were right there at the finish line and we needed to get this Castrol EDGE dragster in the show and qualified. We ended up 14th at the end of the day, so I’m happy about that.”
The 27-year-old Yorba Linda, California native will face veteran Doug Kalitta and the Mac Tools Top Fuel dragster in the first round of eliminations on Sunday.
“I’m ready go up against Doug Kalitta,” Force said. “He’s qualified way better than me, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t step it up and run better than him. That’s what we need and that’s what we’re going to plan to do tomorrow.”
Brittany Force is 2-0 versus Kalitta this season. She beat him in Las Vegas and Englishtown in the first rounds. In both rac
es she won from the bottom half of the field getting the victory in Las Vegas from the No. 11 spot and in Englishtown from the No. 13 qualifying position. Tomorrow she will start the race No. 14.