J. FORCE, HIGHT 1-2 FRIDAY AT MILE HIGH NATIONALS
DENVER, CO – After today’s qualifying sessions, John Force once again proved to fans and the competition that he is still king of the mountain. His Castrol GTX High Mileage Mustang stampeded down Bandimere Speedway with ground pounding 4.049 second run at 318.89 mph to claim the number one spot while resetting both ends of the track record.
“I ran 300 mph here years ago in a Funny Car and I even out ran the dragsters. However, Bandimere put in a cooling system in the track surface and he extended over 200 feet and it gave us confidence and we took advantage of that. My car will run fast at the other end but it’s getting it to leave early without smoking the tires is the key. It wasn’t that hot today but everyone was programed on how to run. Robert and me were at the end of that final session and we stepped up and went for it,” said John Force.
On that record breaking second session, John’s Castrol GTX High Mileage Mustang thundered right down the track with the header flames shooting up eight feet in the air. It had travelled the first 60 feet in less than a second and was going over 270 mph by the eighth mile mark. John picked up three more NHRA Mello Yello Bonus Points for his performance. Like the first session, John Force and Robert Hight were one and two and the quickest side-by-side runs in both sessions. The brain trust between the crew chiefs is paying off and it’s a collaborative effort at John Force Racing.
“You look out and see a packed house and I want to win without a doubt. But I love racing, and coming to Bandimere is awesome, the fans are great, the track is great and this is what motivates me. It’s all I’ve got and I love it”, said John Force.
In the opening session, John Force’s Mustang Funny Car went straight down the Bandimere Speedway and stopped the clocks with a 4.077 second run at 315.64 mph. He was the number one for the round and picked up three NHRA Mello Bonus Points. With a track elevation of over 5,000 feet above sea level, it’s a challenge for the drivers and crews to set up their intricate machines to run at the Mile-High NHRA Nationals.
“Well you know, Jimmy Prock, Mike Neff, Ron Douglas and all these kids have been working hard getting our Funny Cars tuned up to run up on the mountain. There’s no air up here so we build our superchargers to run up here. We thank the guys at the shop for giving us good stuff so we can run fast,” said John Force.
Calling the shots and making sure Force’s 8,000 horsepower Castrol GTX High Mileage Mustang is hitting on all eight is crew chief Jimmy Prock. Earlier this season, Jimmy and the rest of the crew were fighting clutch issues but after John’s win two weekends ago at Norwalk, Ohio, they’ve turned the corner and are looking for another win this weekend.
“The conditions today were good and we just set up the car like we did last year. We also felt we could improve a little bit today based on the data from last year and it was a good start for us. On that second session, we stepped it to see how far we could push it and that 4.04 is just what we thought it would run,” said Jimmy Prock.
John Force is looking to set another record if he can claim his eighth win at the Mile-High NHRA Nationals and rack up his 141th career victory. He also wants to put as many points between him and his nearest competitor as he races for another NHRA Mello Yello Funny Car World Championship Title. He knows it’s a long season, a lot of work, and many rounds of competition to win races. He’s confident and his crew is up to the challenge in getting to the winner’s circle this Sunday at Bandimere Speedway.
While John Force was setting and resetting the record books at Bandimere Speedway Mello Yello Funny Car points leader Robert Hight was right beside the 16-time champion. Hight was second quickest of the first session 4.078 seconds just one thousandth of a second off of Force’s pace. It was a strong start for the Auto Club team and set them up to make strong runs in the final session on Friday.
“That was a great way to start the race. You want to get off on the right foot and we definitely did that today. Neff has a really good handle on this Auto Club Mustang so starting out with a 4.07 was right where we wanted to be,” said Hight, a four-time winner in 2014.
In the second session Hight and Force were once again the last pair of Funny Cars. The conditions could not have been better for the Auto Club Mustang team. Hight and Force blasted off the starting line and 1,000 feet later the scoreboard lit up with 4.055 seconds and once again the second quickest run of the session. Hight picked up four qualifying bonus points but more importantly his team once again made two solid runs on the first day of the race.
“There was a packed house here tonight and we wanted to put on a show. I know Jimmy and Mike talked before that run. They were able to watch all the Funny Cars run and they both knew they could step it up. When you make a side by side run like that there is nothing better. We weren’t as quick as John but we were right there with him. I think heading into tomorrow we’ll be the last pair again and hopefully we’ll keep getting those bonus points,” said Hight, a two-time winner at the Mopar Mile High NHRA Nationals.
The Traxxas Funny Car team with third-year driver Courtney Force made two great passes today to qualify in the No. 7 spot going into Saturday’s sessions. Force opened up with a 4.174 at top speed of 306.81 mph before both of her Funny Car teammates outran that big number.
“It’s great being out here at Bandimere Speedway. It’s totally different when we come out to this race track. It’s exciting. It’s tough, especially for our crew chiefs. Going up there we had top speed with 306 on the first run, but it got taken away by my dad who went top speed after our Traxxas team,” said Courtney Force.
In the second session, Force and her Traxxas team improved with a 4.111 at 312.42. Competitor Matt Hagan also posted a 4.111, but Force took the No. 7 spot on speed.
“On the second run we had an even better mph and still didn’t get top speed here so it really shows how tough the competition is, but we were able to improve on our second pass to move up the ladder and we’re currently in the top half of the field. We’re looking forward to tomorrow. We’re hoping we can continue to improve our times keep a consistent race car,” said Force.
Brittany Force and her Castrol EDGE Dragster made a solid qualifying run today. The sophomore Top Fuel Dragster pilot ran a solid 3.902 second run at 314.02 mph and qualified in the top-half of the field in number eight spot.
“It was exciting to go out there on the first run and go that 3.90. With this being only our second time at Bandimere Speedway, I was really happy on the number we laid down. We never test here so we only have last year’s data and information to work from. So, to run that 3.90 and go right to the number three was awesome and we were pumped,” said
It was on the first session that Brittany’s dragster leapt off the starting line like a rocket and marched right down the track and turned in that 3.902 second pass. She was qualified in the third spot during the opening round and picked up one NHRA Mello Yello Bonus point.
“My guys have been working hard and I think having that weekend off between Norwalk and Denver really helped us to recharge our batteries. You know, it’s good to have a break and get out energy level up, clear my mind, it’s nice to get but know we’re in fight mode and looking to go rounds,” said Brittany Force.
With the track and air temps dropping, crew chief Todd Smith paid close attention to the Funny Cars that were running ahead of the dragsters. He knew his fellow JFR crew chiefs like Jimmy Prock, Mike Neff and Ron Douglas were pushing their Mustang as far as they could go to get a low qualifying number. Wanting to get Brittany’s race car a possible number one qualifying position, Todd Smith really got after the tuned up and made some changes in the staging lanes.
“We were paying close attention to the conditions and the cars running ahead of us to see if we could put more power to the track. We knew our car was heading in the right direction from our first run so we went for it. Unfortunately, we got a little too greedy but there’s two more sessions tomorrow and the conditions will still be good,” said Todd Smith.
Unfortunately, the Castrol EDGE Dragster was too aggressive as the massive Goodyear slicks were working overtime and fighting for traction in trying to keep its 10,000 horsepower on the track surface at Bandimere Speedway. The 2013 NHRA Rookie of the Year tried everything to save the run by pedaling the dragster but it was to no avail.
“We came out on that second round and tried to get aggressive and get after it but we put too much into it but it couldn’t handle the conditions as the tires went up in smoke. But we get two more sessions tomorrow and I know we can improve from our current eighth spot,” said Brittany Force.
Regardless, the Castrol EDGE team knows they have good car and Brittany Force is improving as a driver on each pass down the drag strip. She and her crew are confident that they will go rounds this Sunday and claim her first Top Fuel victory for Castrol EDGE and John Force Racing.