JFR IN STRONG POSITION GOING INTO BRAINERD ELIMINATIONS
BRAINERD, MN (August 17, 2013) — John Force showed today why Brainerd International Raceway is one of his favorite tracks moving up to the No. 3 qualifying position and putting the Castrol GTX Ford Mustang Funny Car in position to win the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals for the unprecedented twelfth time. Force blasted down the track in the first session today with a time of 4.050 seconds and was just a shade slower than eventual No. 1 qualifier Jack Beckman (4.038 seconds).
Force races second year driver Alexis DeJoria in the first round tomorrow. Last year Force met DeJoria in the first round and advanced to the second round after a bizarre turn of events. Force red-lit but DeJoria smoked the tires. The rookie driver did not realize that Force had been disqualified, pedaled her Tequila Patron Funny Car and it crossed the center line. Under the NHRA’s “First or Worst” rule Force was reinstated in the race and ultimately advanced to the final round.
Robert Hight and the Auto Club Ford Mustang continued their strong performance at the 32nd running of the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals as well. He was the only Funny Car driver to pick up qualifying bonus points in both sessions today posting the third quickest and quickest times, 4.064 and 4.067 second runs respectively. Hight’s last three runs going into his first round match-up with rookie Chad Head were 4.054, 4.064 and 4.067 seconds.
“Chad Head, he ran good earlier in the year. I think 4.0 flat at Charlotte so you can’t take that team lightly. We’re going to have to go up there and I’m going to have to do my job and (crew chief Mike) Neff’s going to have to make this thing run good. That’s the way it’s going to have to be every single round,” said Hight.
“It’s going to be won or lost on the starting line if the cars are running like they normally are. It’s not going to be easy, but I believe we’re on the right track for a breakout win. We’re starting to gel as a team and it’s a lot of fun over here. It’s time to finish it off.”
Hight extended his points lead over No. 11 driver Del Worsham by nearly half a round moving from three points ahead of the driver of the DHL Toyota Funny Car to 11 points going into the first round.
“We got two more runs in today where we made up points and that’s big. We were going up there on this last run to try to be low of the session. We weren’t trying to be No. 1 qualifier because the conditions weren’t there, but we were definitely going up there to try to be low of the session and pick up three bonus points. If you look at all of the guys who are around that top 10- Tasca and Wilkerson and Worsham- we made points up this weekend, plain and simple. It’s big, but tomorrow is a new day,” said Hight.
Courtney Force and the Traxxas Ford Mustang team lead by crew chief Ron Douglas made four complete and quick passes this weekend to qualify in the No. 7 spot. The team will take on Bob Tasca III in the opening round on race day.
Friday consisted of a two passes straight down the race track at 4.125 seconds and a 4.094 seconds. The California native locked into the top 12 and carried her time over to Saturday’s qualifying sessions.
“We’ve qualified in the top half of the field and picked up a couple bonus points throughout two days of qualifying which is exactly what we need. That’s the position we want to be in to work our way up and around our competitors in the points,” said Force.
Today, the 25-year-old 2012 Automobile Club Road to the Future winner ran a 4.077 ET at 316.23 mph and a 4.087 ET at 314.31 mph.
“I’m excited that our Traxxas team was able to go out and make two consistent runs in the 4.0’s today, especially because we tried a lot of new things on the car from yesterday which seemed to be working,” said Force.
Force is 5-1 to Tasca III in previous events and in two out of her three career event wins, she has dismissed the fellow Ford driver from eliminations en route to a national event title.
“Tomorrow is going to be a tough first round match-up. It’s going to be crucial for John Force Racing, but it is exciting to see Ford side by side. Tasca is a good friend of ours and I know he is going to be tough up there. I’m going to do the best I can. I think we’ve got a great hot rod with Ron Douglas tuning it. I just have to do the best job I can as a driver and try to get that win so we can help out my teammate Robert Hight clinch into the Countdown to the championship,” said Force.
Castrol EDGE Top Fuel driver Brittany Force bounced back from a disappointing first day of qualifying to make the show Saturday at Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals.
After smoking the tires her first two qualifying sessions, the Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award candidate was on the outside looking in. Leading into Saturday’s final two qualifying sessions, crew chiefs Dean Antonelli, Eric Lane and Richard Hogan made the right calls that got Force down the track with great ET’s. Session three Force ran a 3.927 ET at 309.91, which was a huge improvement from the night before. In the fourth qualifying session, Force ran a quicker pass at 3.881 with a speed of 315.78. At the end of the day, she qualified No. 15 in the Mello Yello Series field for Sunday’s eliminations.
“We had two runs today and we definitely improved from yesterday,” Force said. “We actually got the car down the track. It shook and rattled a little bit at the top end, but we got the car all the way down that and that’s all that matters. We ended up No. 15 on the ladder and we run Spencer Massey tomorrow in the first round. I’m excited about it and we get to play tomorrow, so I’m happy.”
This isn’t the first time the 27-year-old has crossed paths with Massey. Force has faced the Don Schumacher Racing driver twice before in the second round and has come up short of the win both times. The Southern California native hopes third time is the charm in Sunday’s opening round of eliminations.
“He’s a great driver,” Force said. “I’ve talked to him so much about being out here racing and different things about driving. He’s always offered tips and help if I’ve ever needed it, so he’s an awesome guy. I’m excited to be running him. I’ve run him twice this year in the second round and he’s beat me both times, so I’m hoping it’s our turn to get the win this time.”