JFR FUNNY CAR DRIVERS READY TO TAKE ON TRAXXAS SHOOTOUT
INDIANAPOLIS (August 30, 2014) — On the eve of the 3rd annual Funny Car Traxxas Nitro Shootout three John Force Racing Funny Car drivers having differing views but similar goals on attacking the $100,000 to win specialty race. There was much discussion today at the Shootout press conference about “doubling-up” and for the all the competitors they know that is a tough proposition. Of the 20 different drivers who have “doubled-up,” winning pro bonus races and national events on the same weekend, only four have done so more than once: John Force in Funny Car, Bob Glidden and Greg Anderson in Pro Stock and Matt Hines in Pro Stock Motorcycle.
John Force is bidding for his seventh bonus race victory and his second in three years in the Traxxas Nitro Shootout. The driver of the Castrol GTX HIGH MILEAGE Ford Mustang won the Big Bud Shootout in 1987, 1990, 1993, 1996 and 2000. He won the Skoal Showdown in 2006 and the Traxxas Shootout in 2012. Force has won NHRA bonus races in four different decades, the only driver to have done so. His most recent win came in the 2012 Traxxas Nitro Shootout in Dallas and his first specialty race win came in the Big Bud Shootout in 1987.
“You have to play the game like this is just another day at the office. First I want to thank the president of Traxxas Mike Jenkins. He is off road racing himself. He gave my daughter a chance to come out here with a great sponsor and great company. If you haven’t tried their products you need to. We got helicopters at the press conference on Wednesday in our goodie bags. That is awesome. What is really cool is I have gone back to back here but it has been a few years. It was fantastic but I have an opportunity with Capps to get a three-peat,” said Force, referring to the fact that on Saturday night he and Capps will be racing the Brainerd Funny Car final round.
“I am going for win No. 79 with Ford Racing if I can get the win later today for Brainerd and I would be the winningest driver for Ford Racing is that happens. My first win in a Ford Mustang was at Brainerd and I beat Capps so if I beat him again I can break the record. It makes it all very exciting.”
For Auto Club backed Robert Hight who watched from the starting line as a crew member as his team leader, John Force, won specialty races his goal of earning his first double up in Indy is steeped in tradition. He is hoping to get his Auto Club Ford Mustang into the winners’ circle for the first time in an NHRA bonus race history. Although he has won more tour events the last ten years than any other Funny Car driver (34), he never has raced in a final round in a bonus race.
“What a difference a year makes. Last year I wasn’t even part of this. I didn’t get a win and I didn’t get the fan vote thanks to (Tim) Wilkerson. It wasn’t much fun on Sunday morning not being part of those festivities. My team got focused and we went on to win the U.S. Nationals. As a crew member working on John’s car we doubled up a few times and I remember seeing Don Prudhomme win both races,” said Hight. “I don’t think there is a better year to win both races when one of them is the 60th annual Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals. All the legends of our sport are here. I am excited. Like Cruz said there are no easy picks so we have our work cut out for us. Last year I wasn’t in the top ten and I had to beat Cruz in the first round to get into the 10th spot. We are going to go out there and try and have some fun but it won’t be easy.”
Third year driver Courtney Force, who is backed by event sponsor Traxxas, feels some additional corporate pressure heading into her third Traxxas Nitro Shootout. She is trying to become just the second woman to win an NHRA bonus race and the first ever to do so in Funny Car. Shelly Anderson Payne won the Budweiser Top Fuel Classic in 1994 and Melanie Troxel was runner-up to Rod Fuller in the Technicoat Top Fuel Shootout in 2007.
“There is a lot of pressure. It was exciting this year to have won a race earlier in the year to lock into the Traxxas Shootout. The pressure is definitely there because this is a race my sponsor, Traxxas, is very involved in and it is a race I want to win. This is a trophy I would love to have in my house. It is tough racing all these other drivers. They are all in this race for a reason. I would love to double up and I have seen dad do it. It would be hard to do but we have our eyes set on it,” said Force, who became the winningest female in Funny Car history with her win earlier in Sonoma.
“It is hard to block everything out. On these runs not only are we competing in the Traxxas Shootout but these are also qualifying runs for the race on Monday. I think it gets confusing with how people are going to be running this race. They might roll in deep and put out the top bulb and not really care about where they are qualified. It is a game changer when you are rolling up there. You never know what is going to happen and you don’t know what to expect. You have to put on your game face and be ready for it.”