JFR sweeps Chicago: Robert Hight, Brittany Force earn provisional No. 1 spots at Route 66 Raceway

JFR sweeps Chicago: Robert Hight, Brittany Force
earn provisional No. 1 spots at Route 66 Raceway

Robert Hight (Photo credit: Gary Nastase and Auto Imagery)
JOLIET, Ill. (July 7) – Robert Hight predicted it would take a 3.85-second run to earn the top spot in Funny Car qualifying for the Fallen Patriots NHRA Route 66 Nationals. On Friday, his estimate was correct, as he did just that in the second qualifying session at Route 66 Raceway to take the provisional No. 1 spot.

Meanwhile, Brittany Force enters her birthday Saturday as the No. 1 driver in Top Fuel, as the track record holder in the category set quick time and fast speed in her Monster Energy dragster.

All in all, not a bad day for John Force Racing.

The driver of the Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro SS, Hight set both ends of the track record – at 3.851 seconds at 334.73 mph – the ninth quickest elapsed time and sixth fastest speed of his career. He also headed the 17-car Funny Car field in the opening session, with a pass of 3.917 seconds at 325.14 mph. His efforts netted him six bonus points – three in each session.

“I called it yesterday at the press conference that track records were going to fall,” Hight said. “This is a great racing surface. But a lot of it is the advancement of Funny Car over the last two years. There’s hardly a race track that we go to where we don’t set records.

“It’s exciting. The fans look for those big numbers, and we’re trying to go harder.”

Hight has qualified No. 1 at the Chicago-area track twice – in 2005 and 2010 – and is still looking to earn his first career victory.

“That wasn’t a perfect run for us,” Hight said. “It was slow early, and then it didn’t lock the clutch up. The motor was away from it, screaming. If you get that thing where it’s supposed to lock up, this thing will run real fast – and a lot quicker. Good news is we get another night session so we get another crack at it.”

Courtney Force finished the day No. 3 in the Funny Car, with a second-round qualifying effort of 3.880 seconds at 331.36 mph in the Advance Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro SS. John Force, in the PEAK Coolant and Motor Oil Chevrolet Camaro SS, was No. 9 after the second session, with a pass of 3.943 seconds at 321.58 mph in the first session.

Meanwhile, Brittany Force clocked a pass of 3.711 seconds at 323.04 mph to jump to the top early in the second session. She then withstood challenges from 16 other drivers, each coming up short, to stay first. If her time holds up, it would mark the fifth No. 1 of her career.

“That was a pretty awesome run,” said Force, whose most recent No. 1 came last year at Route 66 in a track record-setting performance. “We struggled during that first run, but in that second run we just went down the track. I’m excited. We’ve had good runs in the evening, and we just need to figure that out for Sunday.”

Force’s birthday is Saturday, but the best present she could give herself and her Monster Energy team would have to wait until Sunday, with the No. 1 spot and a trip to the winner’s circle. Force is also seeking her first career victory at the track.

“All I care about is winning the race,” Force said. “That would be the best gift I could have, standing in winner’s circle with my Monster Energy team. It’s been awhile since we were in winner’s circle at Epping, so we’re ready to do it again.”

Saturday’s qualifying sessions are scheduled for 4 and 6:45 p.m. Central. Elimination rounds are scheduled to begin at noon Central on Sunday.