J. FORCE TO FIFTH FINAL IN A ROW; WILL SETTLE RACE IN INDY
BRAINERD, MN — John Force and his Castrol GTX High Mileage Mustang will have to wait two weeks to see if he will claim his fourth win of the season and his 142nd career victory. With persistent rain showers and darkening skies over Brainerd International Raceway, the final Funny Car round for the NHRA Lucas Oil Nationals was postponed this evening and has been rescheduled for the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals. The Funny Car final will be run during Q3 on Saturday in Indianapolis.
“The fans really hung with us today which made it special. I have won this race 11 times and we are going to have to run it off in Indy. I’ll be racing a great friend of mine Ron Capps. We were both excited. DeJoria did a great job running that 3.99. She and DeLago have a great thing going. My car ran in the threes but I keep cheating that light and trying to make sure I get those wins. I am excited and I want to thank all the people that spent time with me this weekend,” said Force, the 11-time Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals winner.
Force also retook the Mello Yello points lead passing teammate Robert Hight when he took out Tommy Johnson Jr. in the semi-finals. This will be Force’s 15th final round at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals in 29 appearances.
Racing from the No.1 qualified spot for the 151st time in his career, John Force faced Bob Bode in the opening round of eliminations. John knew he Bode could be a tough competitor as he won this event back in 2010. As the Christmas tree flashed green, John Force’s Castrol GTX High Mileage Mustang left first and headed straight down the track, but he had to back pedal the throttle to keep his car in the groove. Bode wasn’t as lucky, as his Funny Car smoked the tires and he had to get off the throttle. Force’s 4.180 second pass at 316.45 mph was more than enough to get the win and advance him to the next round.
Going into the quarter-finals, John Force would line up against Del Worsham. These two have raced each other 71 times before, with Force holding a 48-23 record against Worsham. As the lights transitioned from yellow to green on the Christmas tree, Force’s Castrol GTX High Mileage Mustang left the starting line first with a huge reaction time advantage going to Force. Worsham gave chase, but his Funny Car experienced violent tire shake and he had to shut down early. Force’s Mustang went straight down the track with a 4.064 second pass at 320.89 mph, good for the win and lane choice going into the semi-finals.
John Force then headed into the semi-final round where he would face Tommy Johnson JR. These two tough competitors have raced each other 35 times before and despite John’s record of 27-8 against Johnson, it tightens real fast if you look at the semifinal matchups in which John Force is only 5-2. As both drivers lined up and the Christmas tree went green, it could have been anyone’s race, but John Force was able to muscle past Johnson with a 4.021 second run to a losing 4.203.
Courtney Force bowed out of eliminations on Sunday when her Traxxas Ford mustang went up in smoke in the first round. She tried to pedal the car to recover, but it was too late and Alexis DeJoria got the win. Force has raced DeJoria six times before, but this was the first time the pair have met this season. Force is now 5-2 to the Patron XO Café driver in eliminations.
“Race day today didn’t go as well as we had hoped. I got strapped in the car two times ready for round one. We had so many rain delays, but we finally got into the lanes and I had a pretty good car. It didn’t hook up as well as we had hoped and it smoked the tires. I pedaled it, but I just got outrun by Alexis who had a pretty stout run. It was tough to beat,” said Force.
“The good news is, we did clinch a spot in the Countdown to the Championship. I’m just so proud of my team and my crew chiefs and the entire John Force Racing team. I’m excited going into Indy. I hope we can move forward and stay positive and go some rounds at the U.S. Nationals,” said Force.
Robert Hight and the Auto Club Ford team had the longest wait of the day. As HIght and his first round opponent pulled up to stage a light rain began to fall again. NHRA official starter Mark Lyle instructed both drivers to shut off their Funny Cars.
After another lengthy delay Hight was upset as his Auto Club Ford Mustang hazed the tires briefly. HIght expertly regained control of his Funny Car and continued to power down the track. Unfortunately it was just the opening his opponent needed to defeat the Mello Yello points leader.
“The delays really just take a lot out of you. I was ready to race and I had a great race car. We will head to Indy and be ready for the U.S. Nationals and the Traxxas Shootout. It was a tricky weekend all around but I am not making excuses. We have five wins this season and we will be focused and ready to roll in two weeks. We’ll be testing in Indy this week as well so I’ll be back in the seat in no time,” said Hight.
Brittany Force and the Castrol EDGE team were hoping to rounds today at the NHRA Lucas Oil Nationals, but the 2013 NHRA Auto Club Rookie of the Year was stopped in the opening round when she faced Larry Dixon. Despite Brittany’s early exit today, she reached a major milestone in her Top Fuel career by claiming a playoff berth in the all-important NHRA Countdown to the Championship.
“I was so excited when they told me at the top end. This was huge. One of our goals was to get in the Countdown and to get that first win. I am so pumped about Indy and the Countdown. This Castrol EDGE team will keep working together,” said Force.
Going into race day, Brittany had qualified ninth and for only the sixth time this season, didn’t have lane choice going into round one. However, with a track temperature of 75 degrees and the air temp hovering around 65 degrees, conditions were conducive for a great run, as Brittany’s Castrol EDGE dragster and Dixon’s race car were equally matched. Unfortunately, the conditions were also utterly different from what crewmembers Todd Smith and Dean “Guido” Antonelli had tuned for earlier in the weekend.
“The conditions were completely different than our qualifying runs on Friday and Saturday, so I’m definitely bummed to go out in round one, but hopefully we’ll turn out around going into Indy,” said Brittany Force.
Brittany’s 10,000 horsepower dragster started to mix it up early in the run, when the massive Goodyear slicks began to violently shake as they fought for traction. The sophomore Top Fuel driver tried her best to regain control and bac pedal her dragster, but it was to no avail. Larry Dixon, who also experienced some traction woes early in the run, was able to recover his machine and get it back in the groove and down Brainerd International Raceway. The scoreboards told the story – Brittany’s 6.252 second run to Dixon’s 3.988.
Now that she’s clinched her spot in the Countdown to the Championship, there’s another
goal in Brittany’s sights, and that’s to compete in this year’s annual Traxxas Nitro Shootout scheduled for the NHRA U.S. Nationals in two weeks. The NHRA Traxxas Nitro Shootout is a race within a race, in which Top Fuel Dragsters and Funny Cars are showcased.
To qualify for the NHRA Traxxas Nitro Shootout, the first seven of eight available spots in Top Fuel and Funny Car are allotted to drivers who either have a points lead at the U.S. Nationals, or by winning a NHRA National event. The eighth and final spot in each category is determined by a fan vote and a lottery-style drawing.
“I’m really excited about the fun video we made to get the fans to vote for me in the Traxxas Shootout. The Castrol EDGE team would like to get that eighth spot in the Top Fuel category, and it would be awesome to get in this year,” said Brittany Force.
The Castrol EDGE team will get the weekend off from the NHRA races and return to their home base in Brownsburg, Indiana before heading to the 60th annual NHRA U.S. Nationals. Having the weekend off before heading to the most prestigious drag race of the season will give Brittany Force and the Castrol EDGE Team a chance to recharge their batteries and come out hitting on all eight in pursuit of a first Top Fuel win for Castrol EDGE and John Force Racing.