HIGHT HAS BEST DAY FOR JFR AT GATORNATIONALS
GAINESVILLE, FL – Warm temperatures cooled the performance numbers across the board at the 45th annual Amalie Oil NHRA Gatornationals. Robert Hight and the Auto Club Ford Mustang Funny Car team made their strongest run of the day during the second session posting a 4.132 second run at 303.78 mph which was good enough for the provisional No. 7 spot. With two more qualifying sessions tomorrow the most recent national event runner-up is ready for more improvement.
“This Auto Club Ford Mustang has been running in the low 4.0s for the first two events and we knew the conditions wouldn’t allow us to run that hard. We are just being smart and working our way systematically to a race day tune-up. No one is hanging their heads at any of our teams. The track was a little tricky today for all the Top Fuel and Funny Car teams,” said Hight.
While Hight was positioned in the top half of the field his teammates were not too far behind with team leader John Force sitting in the No. 11 spot and Courtney Force looking to move into the top 16 tomorrow. The elder Force’s best time today was 4.380 and the youngest Force’s best time was a tire smoking 8.184 second run. The unusual slow start did not dampen Courtney Force’s enthusiasm for being at one of the premier events on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.
“It’s great to be out here at the Gatornationals. I’m so excited. It’s the third race of the season and we’re still working out the kinks, but this Traxxas Ford Mustang team is determined going into tomorrow. I think we definitely learned some things in Q1 and Q2,” said Courtney Force. “The first run was a little bit weak and then the second run was a little too aggressive. We’re going to hopefully find that happy medium tomorrow and hopefully get this Traxxas Ford qualified well for race day at the Gatornationals.”
On the Top Fuel side of the equation Phoenix runner-up Brittany Force made consistent runs today and will move into Saturday as the No. 11 qualified dragster. Her second run in the Castrol EDGE dragster stepped up with a 3.945 seconds at 308.92 mph run.
“I’m glad to be out here in Gainesville. We’ve improved a lot from last year now that we’ve been down the track a few times. We have a new crew chief on board, Todd Smith, and things have really started to look up for us this year,” said Force.
“The first run out today was actually a little bit crazy for all of us. We had to swap some guys around; we lost a crew guy and one of our old guys from last year came out this weekend to help us fill in. Everyone’s routine was flopped; even pulling into the staging lights was different because I had someone else pulling me up there. That changes everything. I mean everything was different up there. We couldn’t get the car started; we had a dead battery. Luckily Antron Brown’s guys came over and helped get our car started. We were very lucky and thanks to Spencer Massey who waited for us and didn’t pull up and stage. He waited for us and we did a short little burn out, didn’t even go past the Christmas tree, pulled in, staged, and our car ended up smoking the tires.”
“I knew we’d get it together by the second run, we just needed to get in a groove. The guys have a new routine out here like I said. We made it down on that run; it felt sluggish, it felt slow, but we ran a 3.94 and got a better pass in with that.”