FORCE IN COUNTDOWN MODE HEADING INTO READING
With only three NHRA national events left this season, John Force is focused on going rounds, winning races and, in his words, “gobbling up” as many points as he can during the Countdown. While the 16-time NHRA Mello Yello champion may compare how he’ll reach his goal for another NHRA world title to the 1980’s Pac-Man video game, it will be all business when his Castrol GTX High Mileage Mustang rolls to the starting line at Maple Grove Raceway. John Force will face some stiff competition at this weekend’s 30th annual NHRA Nationals in Reading, Pennsylvania – some of it from his own camp.
Some of the opponents lining up will included Force’s teammates who are also his family members such as daughter Courtney, who is number two and just 30 points behind her father after she drove to victory at last weekend’s AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals. Force’s son-in-law, Robert Hight, is also a player heading into the Countdown despite being bumped out of second and into fourth place after last weekend’s race. All of Force’s team drivers are a serious threat and can easily overtake him for the points lead.
However, there’s an opponent that is in a perilous close spot and he’s sitting right between Castrol-John Force Racing drivers Courtney Force and Robert Hight. That opponent is John’s arch rival and former NHRA Mello Yello champion, Matt Hagan. Hagan recently moved into third place and John Force knows this is a real threat not only to himself, but to his team drivers as well.
“When a teammate wins, it’s okay, like Courtney last weekend in St. Louis. The Castrol car went out, the Auto Club car went out, but Courtney in the Traxxas car got the job done and she helped her dad out despite whipping me in the semifinals. Even though Courtney took out Hagan in finals, he (Hagan) can still hurt us in points and is always a threat. There’re three races left, but we have three cars and it’s starting to become a four car race but it’s still way early to say that right now. Hagan’s right in the middle of it and we can’t afford to fumble or drop the ball right now,” said John Force.
With the intensity and passion John Force exhibits, he’s is ready to head to Maple Grove Raceway as the weather and track conditions have always been conducive in setting new performance records. It also gives crew chief Jimmy Prock the opportunity to swing for the fences and see how much faster he can make the already potent 8,000 horsepower Castrol GTX High Mileage Mustang.
“The good air at Reading will tune everybody up, we can run in the heat, that’s how we gobbled up points, but that’s what this game is all about and we just keep trying. It’s a whole new ballgame right now for John Force, every point counts so don’t call me the champ, call me Pac-Man, I got to eat every point out there,” said John Force.
With Force’s runner-up early this month at the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, his 10th final round appearance this season that includes three wins (NHRA Winternationals, Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals, NHRA Northwest Nationals), John Force has a slight lead in the NHRA Mello Yello Countdown chase with 2344 points over teammate Courtney Force, who’s right there in second place with 2314 points. John Force wants nothing more than to win his 17th NHRA Mello Yello Funny Car championship and with his drive and attitude, he could ultimately rewrite the NHRA history books once again.
BIG MOVE IN POINTS HAS C. FORCE EYEING CHAMPIONSHIP RUN STARTING IN READING
READING, PA (September, 30, 2014) — This weekend’s 30th annual NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway stands out as a chance for Courtney Force to do something no other female Funny Car driver has ever done, and that is win three consecutive events. The 26-year-old recently became the only female to go back-to-back in Funny Car event wins, but Force has made it clear she wants this championship.
Force qualified No. 5 during her rookie year at Maple Grove Raceway, and qualified No. 2 last year in 2013. She has qualified in the top half of the field 17 times in the first 21 races this season.
“I’m so excited to get to Reading because this is where you always see records being set. I’m hoping this will be my time to get into the 3’s. Conditions will be cool and the track will be fast for these cars. I can’t wait to see what we can do there,” said Force.
The 2014 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season still has three races remaining before a 2014 Championship is awarded. So far this season, Force has made it to the Winner’s Circle four times, three of those from the No. 1 starting spot, she has earned the 100th NHRA win by a female earlier this year in Topeka, and became the winningest female driver in Funny Car with a total of seven wins.
She has had top speed of the meet this year nine different times and currently owns the fastest speed in Funny Car history at 1,000 feet, 325.37 mph (Vegas).
“I think our Traxxas team has turned things around at the right time. We’ve picked up two of the three wins in the countdown so heading into Reading we just need to keep our focus and try to keep the momentum going,” said Force.
Currently, the 2012 Rookie of the Year sits second in points, just 30 behind her father and reigning champion John Force. This is the first time in NHRA history a father and daughter have been first and second in points.
“We’ve made a big move up to the No. 2 spot in points and have started to create the gap we need between us and the other competitors on our tail. We need to keep our consistency going and finish off the four week stretch on a high note. I’m proud of my team and what we’ve accomplished so far and am focused on going after that Championship,” said Force.
READING START OF HIGHT’S THREE RACE BATTLE TO MELLO YELLO CHAMPIONSIP
READING, PA (September 30, 2014) — The first three races of the 2014 Mello Yello NHRA Countdown to the Championship have been struggle for Robert Hight, the 2009 Funny Car champion. A promising start in Charlotte as the No. 2 qualifier was derailed in the semi-finals by Matt Hagan, the eventual event winner. In Dallas he was ousted by eventual AAA Texas Fall Nationals event winner and teammate Courtney Force in the second round. Last weekend in St. Louis as the No. 3 qualifier Hight and his AAA Insurance backed Ford Mustang Funny Car were the victims of a first round upset to Chad Head. Still the winningest driver of the season with five wins is only five rounds out of first place and his second Funny Car crown.
“There is no doubt that this weekend is critical. There are only twelve rounds of racing left in the season and what you have to start keeping your eye on is the qualifying bonus points as well. We are 91 back from first place but if you can get 12 more qualifying bonus points than one of the three drivers in front of you that could easily help you make up a round of racing. We are going to roll of the hauler on Friday ready to run,” said Hight.
Last year Hight came into Reading’s NHRA National event No. 4 in the points, qualified well but in the first round his Auto Club Mustang uncharacteristically smoked the tires versus Chad Head. That spelled doom for his championship hopes as John Force won his 16th Mello Yello Funny Car championship the following event in Las Vegas.
“We had a chance to make a move last year but smoked the tires in the first round. As long as one of our Funny Cars wins the championship that is all that matters. Right now you have John and Courtney at the top of the point standings and I am in 4th place again. I feel like I could make a move this weekend,” said Hight.
So far this season Hight’s five wins have led the category with his most recent victory coming on the mountain top of Bandimere Speedway. Since that win Hight has battled tough competition and some mechanical gremlins. Hight has now gone back to the race car that carried him to six consecutive finals earlier in the year. It is the same race car that made the quickest run of eliminations a blistering 4.09 second run in the heat in a losing effort.
Moving to the cooler air and superior racing surface of Maple Grove Raceway has Hight looking at the possibility of national record times. The prize for a national elapsed time record is 20 points and in a tight four way battle for the Funny Car championship an extra round of points could be the difference between giving the Funny Car championship speech in Hollywood at the end of the season or having to listen to someone else give that speech.
“At the start of the season everyone has their sights set on the championship. With three races left we have a shot at winning our second Mello Yello Championship. Opportunities like this don’t come along very often. (Crew chief) Mike Neff and I have talked about how we are going to approach these last three races. Between us we have a lot of wins at these tracks and we have a lot of data. I am confident we can do some damage and hurt some feelings,” said Hight.
BRITTANY FORCE RACE READY FOR COUNTDOWN AT READING
Still a contender in her first Countdown bid, Brittany Force is ready to hop back in the driver’s seat of her 10,000 horsepower Castrol EDGE Dragster and blast down Maple Grove Raceway during this weekend’s 30th annual NHRA Nationals in Reading, Pennsylvania. The 2013 NHRA Auto Club Rookie of the Year had struggled a bit in the last few weeks, but Brittany’s still in 10th place and she’s confident her team is heading in the right direction and can go rounds this Sunday and move up in the points standings.
Going back to last weekend’s AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals, we saw the consistent performance return to Castrol EDGE Dragster as Brittany Force made two strong runs during qualifying. The sophomore Top Fuel driver was looking good heading into eliminations and was ready to redeem herself after her uncharacteristic DNQ almost two weeks ago in Dallas. Her first round match-up last Sunday was Antron Brown, a former NHRA Mello Yello champion and a formidable competitor. Brittany gave Brown a run for the money but came up shy of getting the win by a few thousands of a second.
“Antron (Brown) is a tough competitor and he has a quick dragster. The field was really tight in St. Louis and all the ETs were bunched up. We made a great run in the first round but Antron was just quicker. No one hung their heads in the Castrol EDGE pits last Sunday,” said Brittany Force.
One could say that loss would extinguish the fire inside Brittany for her title hopes in her first Countdown appearance. However, the upbeat Brittany is ready to get back on track to get her first Top Fuel win for Castrol EDGE and John Force Racing. She knows another trip to the final round would help eliminate the recent struggles her team has experienced.
“There are three more races left in the Countdown and we are going to head to Reading with the goal of winning. The conditions in Reading should be great and everyone will be making even quicker runs. This Castrol EDGE Top Fuel dragster will be right there with all the other Top Fuel dragsters,” said Brittany Force
The 2014 NHRA Mello Yello season has been one of positive change for the Castrol EDGE team as Brittany’s has been in the finals three times and has raced from the top half field on Sunday 12 times, three of those from the No.1 spot. Led by seasoned tuners Todd Smith and Dean “Guido” Antonelli, Brittany knows she has the best crew in the pits. She also knows she’s a capable driver will give her opponents this weekend a run for the money.
“We’re going focus on not making any mistakes and make every run count. We need to qualify well so we can go rounds on race day. My guys are doing a great job and we can only get better,” said Brittany Force.