LAS VEGAS, NV – Robert Hight and the Auto Club team stepped up in the second session posting a strong 4.084 second run at 313.66 mph on the first day of the NHRA Nationals. At the end of the day he was solidly in the show at the provisional No. 5 position at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. In the opening qualifying session his Auto Club Ford Mustang was pulling hard at half-track and then lost traction slowing to a pedestrian 4.731 second beside Mello Yello point leader John Force. The three time NHRA Nationals winner was not discouraged with today’s effort.

“The track was good today and you saw that in the second session. Lots of Funny Car stepped up and we feel good about that run. Last week we won the race from the No. 10 spot so you really just need a consistent race car on race day. I feel good about where Mike Neff and these Auto Club crew guys have this Funny Car. We will get two more shots at the track tomorrow and I am looking forward to Sunday,” said Hight.

Hight’s teammate and sister-in-law Courtney Force also sits securely in the top half of the field. She made two full passes today to qualify in the provisional No. 6 spot.

In the first Funny Car session at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the third-year driver put a 4.23 ET on the board, briefly taking her up to the No. 1 qualifier spot.

“We got a solid pass down the race track today in the first round of qualifying. We ran a 4.23. It dropped a cylinder toward the finish line so it slowed us down to a 299 mph run, but we were excited to get it down the track. It gave us something to work with and a good starting point for the weekend,” said Force.

In session two, Force posted a 4.093 ET at 315.19 mph to put her in the No. 6 spot, right behind teammate Robert Hight.

“We went out there and had a great run in the second session. It went down the track and I felt like it was puling me over a little to the right and I had to bring it back. All in all it was a good run. We ran a 4.093 at 315 mph so we’re excited.

“We have a couple things we want to try tomorrow and see if we can just improve a little more. A lot of other drivers are running in the low 4.0’s so we want to match up to that. We want to improve during Saturday’s qualifying, but we’re excited with where we are right now.

“Obviously we got this car turned around. Ron Douglas has done a great job with that along with the entire Traxxas team. We’ll see what we can bring to the table tomorrow,” said Force.

The 16-time NHRA Funny Car champion, John Force, was hot and cold during today’s qualifying. After two qualifying runs, John Force could only muster a 4.17 second elapsed time in his Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang. That run was posted in the first session and was third quickest and earned the current Mello Yello point leader one qualifying bonus point.

“The conditions were decent but the track was kind of warm as the temps were around 113 degrees. My first run was good as my hot rod ran a 4.17. We came back and Robert and Courtney got in the top half of the field on the second session. I was hoping to move up during the second run but we hazed the tires and I didn’t get in top half of the field. We’ll step it up tomorrow. We’re learning Vegas all over again with this new chassis but we also ran them in the here last fall so we’ll be okay,” said John Force.

Sitting in the provisional No. 15 spot with two qualifying sessions would be a precarious spot for most drivers but John Force isn’t like most drivers. His brain-trust is looking at the data from the two runs and will have a game plan for tomorrow to get John Force’s Castrol GTX High Mileage Mustang to the top of the field.  

“Castrol, Ford, Auto Club, Traxxas and others pay us to win. My crew chief Jimmy Prock and the rest of the team will get after it,” said John Force.

Hoping to avoid the gremlins that plagued Brittany Force’s Castrol EDGE Dragster during the NHRA Gatornationals, they appeared once again during the first qualifying session at today’s NHRA Nationals. Luckily for the Castrol EDGE team, they corrected the problem and made a solid 3.83 second elapsed time on the second qualifying session.

During Force’s first qualifying session, her Castrol EDGE Dragster faced mechanical issue that prevented her from staging and making a run. As the crew member went to remove the throttle stop, which is a safety device used during the burnout, the safety lanyard attached to the throttle stop broke off and came in contact to the spinning blower belt that runs the massive supercharger. The blower belt then began to disintegrate into thousands of pieces forcing the Force to shut down the engine.

“The first qualifying pass at Vegas didn’t go as planned. The blower belt broke up as a part fell into the idler pulley. I heard it behind me as we were getting to pull up and stage, I knew something wasn’t right and could tell something was wrong. It sounded like a jackhammer behind my head. Then the crew came out and told me to shut it off. So it was a bummer as we lost a run but I’m confident in my Castrol EDGE team. We get three more qualifying runs and that’s all we need,” said Brittany Force.

Crew chief Todd Smith was also frustrated with today’s mechanical mishap during first session. He knows the Castrol EDGE Dragster team is capable in qualifying in the top-half of the field.

“Call it dumb luck, bad luck, whatever you want. A similar thing happened at the Gatornationals in which a $25 dollar part cost us a qualifying session but we’ll work through it and bounce back,” said crew chief Todd Smith.

On the second qualifying pass, Brittany’s 10,000 horsepower dragster went right down the track and ran a solid 3.834 putting her in the provisional No. 7 spot.

“After the fact we didn’t make it down the track, it felt good to make a good pass. I’m excited and the Castrol EDGE team is very happy and we’ll see what we can do tomorrow. We get two more runs tomorrow and we’re looking to step it up,” said Brittany Force.