JOHN FORCE CONTINUES HOT STREAK IN CHICAGO
JOLIET, IL – For the second race in a row John Force was the best of the field on Friday in Funny Car. With only one qualifying session contested today due to the threat of inclement weather Force powered his Castrol GTX Ford Mustang Funny Car to the top spot with a 4.035 second run. He had to wait for a number of top contenders to run and the closest Funny car to the 15-time champ at the end of the night was Matt Hagan’s 4.040 seconds.
“You are racing here in Chicago and you have killer conditions and a killer race track. Everybody stepped on them after Chad Head put up that great number 4.05. Everybody knew it was out there. (Crew chief) Mike Neff does a great job and he has a great job around him,” said Force, who could clinch his third No. 1 of the season tomorrow.
“I am excited. Anytime you run good that is exciting. The car ran good and the parts looked good. I haven’t had a race car for a while and I have a pretty good race car now. We will see what we can do with it,” said Force. “Robert Hight and the Auto Club team stepped up and ran 4.05, too. I think Courtney needed a tire swap and we just made on our dragster in the staging lanes. It cooled down real quick and their tires were too big and her Traxxas Mustang was weak and it shook. We just needed to get a different tire on it and didn’t have the time.”
As conditions improved there was speculation that a Funny Car could make a three second pass something that has only happened at two other race tracks, zMax Dragway and Maple Grove Raceway. Force would have been impressed if a team would have made an attempt with the changing weather conditions on the horizon.
“Boy, whoever has the nerve to push and run in the 3s I would tip my hat to them. You have to make the show you don’t know what could happen tomorrow. What is it rained tomorrow and you only got one lap. We could see conditions like this tomorrow and you could run good again. Sure we will push it if we get more runs. I wasn’t surprised but every now and then a guy like Jim Head will throw it out there. That is what he wants is that big number,” said the winningest driver in NHRA history.
After a slow start Force has raced to back to back finals the previous two races with a win in Bristol and a narrow loss to daughter Courtney last weekend at New England Dragway in Epping, New Hampshire. Running so well and consistently gives the driver and the team confidence and momentum as they approach each run.
“It helps not only for the driver because once you get back in the game you start remembering what you learned over the last 35 years. That is just confidence and that is good for anybody from an Olympic swimmer or runner or NASCAR driver it doesn’t matter. It is confidence which makes you better,” said Force. “It does the same thing for the crew chief and the guys on the crew. They start having more confidence and they make the right calls and right moves. Last week I just got beat by the better race car of my daughter. She smoked the tires and I had to pedal. She drove around me. It wasn’t going to make it. It was over for me if I didn’t pedal it. She got hers to the finish line and she got the win. Good for her and good for Traxxas. I wanted another win and I’ll get another shot this weekend.
The Auto Club Force Mustang jumped into the field with a strong run and for Robert Hight and his team it was just what the doctor ordered. His 4.055 second run had the 2009 Funny Car champion in the provisional No. 5 spot. Prior to the session NHRA announced there would only be one run today but that did not affect how Hight approached his only run of the day.
“That doesn’t change anything. You should never change your routine not in qualifying or on race day. It doesn’t make any sense to change up because of weather rolling in. It is what it is. You have to do your best every single run,” said Hight. “We went back to the Funny Car we ran in Topeka and went to the final. It was a perfect straight run. I think we have a lot to build on. The conditions tomorrow night should be really good since they are predicting a cold front. You may see some three second runs tomorrow night.”
Courtney Force and the Traxxas Mustang will be on the outside looking in going into Saturday. They posted the 18th quickest run when her Funny Car rattled hard and could not hook up on her run. Her time of 9.742 will not carry over to tomorrow. She and her Traxxas team are scheduled to have two runs to grab one of the remaining four qualifying positions.
Top Fuel pilot Brittany Force wrapped up day one of qualifying in the 10th position in her Castrol EDGE Top Fuel dragster.
The 26-year-old ran a pass of 3.849 seconds at 317.49 mph in the first and only qualifying session following a brief rain shower at Route 66 Raceway.
Despite inclement weather, Force met with fans to sign autographs and took photos with them out at the ropes before Friday night qualifying.
“We ended up 10th at the end of the night. We ran a 3.84 so I’m really happy about that, and that being our first pass. We had good weather conditions and it went down there. We had some trouble after we shut it off at the other end and put some oil down. That’s the first time we had ever done that, but now that I know the feeling of it, I can catch it sooner in the future. I’m glad we’re in the top half of the field and that number will hold going into Saturday,” said Force, a top contender for 2013 rookie of the year.
However, in spite of only getting one run, the Road to the Future candidate is optimistic going in to Saturday’s sessions.
“Obviously we want the most runs we can get to learn about the car and figure out how to tune it for race day. It’s not just my team, it’s all the teams that’ll hopefully get three runs. We did lose that second run, but that’s just the way the game goes.”