JOHN FORCE; COURTNEY FORCE 1-2 IN LAS VEGAS
LAS VEGAS (October 26, 2013) – The Funny Car father daughter duo of John Force and Courtney Force dominated at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway during qualifying. The youngest Force was the provisional No. 1 qualifier on Friday and held that distinction until her 15-time Funny Car champion father set the track record for elapsed time during the final qualifying session at the Toyota NHRA Nationals. The eldest Force posted a 4.011 second time at 317.79 mph moving around Courtney Force whose 4.052 second time was pushed back one spot. The reigning rookie of the year does hold onto the track speed record of 318.24 mph however.
John Force made the quickest pass of the first qualifying session and the quickest pass of the final session to pick up six qualifying bonus points to extend his points lead to 72 points over second place Matt Hagan.
“It smoked the hot dogs a couple of times today I leave that to the crew chiefs. I don’t think about it. (Crew chief) Jimmy Prock and our brain-trust they just go after it. It has had a little magic and it would just get away with anything. Jimmy said we had to pull it back. It still was in trouble. They found the problem and zip right down the race track. It was just like a rocket ship. It was pretty awesome,” said the 145-time No. 1 qualifier.
Force will face veteran driver Gary Densham in the first round. Force and Densham’s careers first crossed paths over three decades ago when Force was just getting started.
“I have Densham. I love the guy. He taught me how to race. He is a good guy. We will race the race track. The points will be what they will be,” said Force.
Over the course of their careers Force is 37-10 versus Densham but at the spring race here Densham defeated Force in the first round. For the winningest driver in NHRA history his success has not given him any sense of over-confidence going into race day for the 634th time.
“I have people ask me if I am nervous. I am nervous but I have the same gut aches that everybody has. I am 64 year old truck driver. I have four beautiful girls and I am a fifteen time champ. What else can a guy ask for? I just do what I do and I love NHRA. I love the crowd they are unbelievable. They were screaming over here and I finally went over and saw them,” said Force an obvious fan favorite
“Anybody can whip anybody else out here. He is a drag racer and he buys parts from me. He is a good racer and I love the guy. We will go up there and have a race. If he spanks me; he spanks me. I am just going to have some fun tomorrow. I am going to go home tonight and have my little bowl of tomato soup and split a tuna sandwich with my wife,” said Force.
After two additional qualifying passes today, Courtney Force, driver of the Traxxas Ford Mustang, wound up the day as the No. 2 qualifier and will go into race day with Tony Pedregon in the opposing lane.
“We didn’t make a good pass to start the day today. I was a little bit to the left of the groove and it started spinning so I had to get out of it a little early. I have a great team behind me and they give me a great race car so I hate to lose out on a run like that,” said Force.
The 2012 Rookie of the Year raced her black and turquoise Traxxas Ford Mustang specialty car to a 4.061 in the last qualifying session today, but had some problems at the finish.
“In the last qualifying attempt we went down there and I was able to keep it in the groove a lot better. Making a stellar pass even though it broke the barrel valve, we still made a decent run at a 4.061. We were going after a good one. Obviously we were trying to get that top spot that my dad stole from us earlier in the session. It slowed us down through the lights, but it still made a good pass,” said Force.
The last time Force raced at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in the spring, she also qualified in the No. 2 spot and ended the weekend by going all the way to the final round before falling victim to Cruz Pedregon.
“We’re excited going into tomorrow. We’ll be matched up against Tony Pedregon and we’re going to do the best we can, but I think we’ve got a pretty good hotrod and we’re just going to have to push it hard and gather up those points so we can move up the line,” said Force.
While Courtney and John Force were dominating the performance boundaries for the past two days the Auto Club Ford Mustang piloted by Robert Hight and tuned by Mike Neff was making steady progress on a race day tune up. Hight is sitting in 4th place in the Mello Yello Funny Car points standings and he is focused on reeling in the three drivers in front of him including the Mello Yello points leader and teammate John Force.
“We are still in this. The good news is we don’t have to race a teammate in the first round. Mike Neff has given me a great car and we are going to try and go some rounds tomorrow. We are in great shape and I am confident going into the race tomorrow against Cruz (Pedregon),” said Hight. “I have had some great success here and I want to keep that good feeling. The best part of this deal is all these John Force Racing Funny Cars are making good laps. John and Courtney are one and two and I am not worried about being a little further back. We will race the conditions tomorrow and give it our best. There are two races left and our goal is to race as hard as possible every round.”
Hight’s best run of the weekend 4.086 seconds came in the final qualifying session under race conditions similar to the first round tomorrow. The 2009 NHRA Funny Car champion knows there is more out there and will be ready to battle the two-time Funny Car champion Pedregon.
Brittany Force and the Castrol EDGE Top Fuel dragster improved their performance today and will go into race day as the No. 10 qualifier. The Auto Club Road to the Future Award contender will face Spencer Massey for the fifth time this season and second time in the Countdown.
“So far I’m happy about qualifying this weekend. Today we went out and ran a 3.85 and we were happy with that even though it put us in the bottom half of the field, we were still in the show,” said Force.
“The second pass we actually improved and to be able to improve with a 3.82 was great for our Castrol EDGE team. To go from a 4.85 to a 4.82 makes us a pretty consistent car running in the 4.80s. To come out on the last qualifying run and make our best pass of the weekend is really exciting for our team. It pumps us up, motivates us and gets our head in the right place.”
“We’re looking forward to tomorrow, we have Spencer Massey and he’s whooped us on the track, but I’m hoping we can turn that around and go some rounds tomorrow.”
While Force is focusing on track improvements she is also hoping to draw some attention to Breast Cancer Awareness. She is running a pink color scheme for the second race in a row as part of a promotional initiative with die-cast manufacturer Lionel.
“This is a beautiful car designed to show support for breast cancer research. We ran it for the first time in Reading, Pa. and I’m glad to be out here in Vegas with it for the month of October. We’re trying to bring a little more awareness to the cause. The car looks beautiful and there are other teams out here also supporting the same organization. It’s so great to be a part of it and I’m hoping to paint the track pink tomorrow and go some rounds,” said Force.