HIGHT GETTING CLOSER TO FIRST WIN OF 2013
SEATTLE, WA (July 31, 2013) — Robert Hight was cruising to his third semi-final appearance of the season in the second round when a fire-bottle deployed and his Auto Club Ford Mustang hazed the tires. As Hight slowed down Alexis DeJoria sped past the 2009 Funny Car champion and into a semi-final match-up with John Force.
“That was a tough loss for sure. Miek Neff had this Auto Club Ford Mustang flying. We ran 4.01 in the first round and I didn’t think there was anything that could have stopped us from getting our first win of the season. It was just a fluke deal with the fire bottle and honestly if something like that has to happen I would rather it happen now instead of the Countdown,” said Hight.
With Hight’s first round win over Bob Tasca III Hight moved back into the Top Ten heading into the O’Reilly Northwest NHRA Nationals at Pacific Raceway. Hight and Tasca have been trading the tenth and eleventh spot in the Mello Yello point standings for over a month. Neither driver has been able to pull away and solidify a Top Ten position in the points. The 8th through 11th spot in the points are separated by twenty-five points which is barely over a round of racing.
“You look at the points and there are four drivers fighting for three spots really. You look at Tim Wilkerson in eighth place, Del Worsham in 9th, me in 10th and then Tasca in 11th anyone of us could win a race. There is still one spot open for the Traxxas Shootout so there is some pressure to get into the winner’s circle,” said Hight.
The combination of Hight and Neff as a new driver crew chief combo is quickly gelling into a great team. Both Neff and Hight came up through the ranks as crew men and both have a grasp of the mechanical side of these Nitro Funny Cars. Neff has ten wins behind the wheel of a Funny Car so the comfort level between Neff and Hight on a driver level has given each man more confidence moving forward with three races left before the Countdown.
“Neff gives you a lot of confidence. Really there is a lot of confidence on this whole John Force Racing team. Jimmy and John went to the final in Sonoma. Courtney’s Traxxas Funny Car has been running strong. Everyone is working together and there is a lot of energy in our camp. We have been making runs in qualifying that earn bonus points and on race day our car has been one of the most dangerous on Sunday. We just need to put everything together on race day,” said Hight.
JFR’S TOP FUEL PILOT BRITTANY FORCE PREPARES FOR FINAL RACE OF WESTERN SWING
SEATTLE, WA (July 31, 2013) — The final race on the Western Swing is fast approaching and John Force Racing, is hungry to get a win Seattle at the O’Reilly Auto Parts Northwest Nationals. For Top Fuel rookie Brittany Force and her entire Castrol EDGE team, the motivation and persistency keeps them pushing harder to claim their first win.
Force, the second youngest daughter of 15-time Funny Car champion John Force, has proven herself thus far in the 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season. With strong, consistent runs and amazing comebacks in qualifying, it’s that kind of hard work that leads to wins.
One of those amazing comebacks came last week in Sonoma, California, when after three qualifying sessions, Force was not in the show. However, crew chiefs Dean Antonelli and Eric Lane, along with Richard Hogan and her entire team tuned the Castrol EDGE just right and was able to pull off a great run to qualify for the event.
“It’s always stressful when you have to get in on your last qualifying pass,” Force said. “I have a great team behind me and great crew chiefs, so I was confident that they put together a good car and that we were going to get down there.”
Automobile Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award candidate returns to Pacific Raceways in Kent, Washington and is eager to see what she can do at the scenic racetrack.
“I’m excited to come to Seattle,” Force said. “I’ve raced here in super comp and A-Fuel, so I’m excited to be coming back. We want to qualify in the top half of the field and gain some ground in the championship Mello Yello point standings. We want to go some rounds and we are going for our first win. I have great crew chiefs (Dean Antonelli, Eric Lane and Richard Hogan) and a great team behind me, so anything is possible.”
It’s always important to build a strong relationship with your team in order to succeed on the track. That is one thing the 27-year-old Cal State-Fullerton graduate values. Force got the chance to spend more time with her Castrol EDGE team as she traveled on the road with them to Seattle and got to see firsthand what they do outside of a normal race weekend.
“We all caravanned up to Seattle at the beginning of the week,” Force said. “Got to ride with the guys in the big rig and the Explorer, so that was a lot of fun. That’s something you don’t do or see every day and that was exciting for me as a driver to see what my guys do outside of the track. At the start of the year I thought it’d be fun to see what they do outside of the race track and join in. I feel it’s important to do stuff with the team outside of the track. We work together and we all have the same goals in mind. Sometimes it’s good to step away from all that and just have some fun together.”
FORCE HEADS TO SEATTLE
Sight of First Funny Car Win
KENT, Wash. (July 28, 2013) – One last event stands between Courtney Force and the completion of the “Western Swing.” The 26th annual O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Northwest Nationals will run Aug. 2-4 at Pacific Raceways, the site of her first NHRA national event win in the Funny Car category.
“Seattle is one of my favorite race tracks on the circuit. I’m really looking forward to racing at Pacific Raceways this year,” said Force. “I’ve won there twice. It was my first win in Top Alcohol Dragster and my first win in Funny Car just last season. I’m excited to get back there this week. Hopefully we can have our Traxxas Ford Mustang Funny Car going rounds.
Last weekend in Sonoma, Force took out Cruz Pedregon before getting a holeshot win over Jack Beckman and driving her car to the semi-final round, where her Traxxas Ford Mustang had a fuel system malfunction and blew the burst panel off.
“Sonoma was pretty good to us, and we just had a tough break there at the end of the race weekend. We’re finishing up the Western Swing. We moved up a little bit back in Sonoma so hopefully we’ll have just as good luck as we had last year at Pacific Raceways. I am confident in my team and car for this weekend in Seattle. This is my lucky track, so we’re going to go there, do our jobs and hopefully pick up our third win on the season,” said Force.
This is also the track where Force skillfully drove one of veteran Jerry Darien’s race cars to the Top Alcohol Dragster title at the 2009 Northwest Nationals. But, with success comes heartbreak and Force had her biggest challenge of her career at Seattle in 2010.
While racing alongside Mike Austin, Force’s right rear tire exploded destroying a portion of her Ford Racing Top Alcohol Dragster’s rear wing. The now national spokesperson for Ford Motor Company’s Driving Skills for Life initiative succeeded in keeping her dragster away from the guard wall and out of Austin’s lane.
Courtney Force moved up to tie with Jack Beckman for the No. 6 spot in the NHRA Funny Car point standings after her semi-final finish in Sonoma, Calif. She sits just 35 points behind Johnny Gray in the No. 5 spot.
For Immediate Release
FORCE’S LATEST ‘SHAKE UP’ PAYING DIVIDENDS
Crew Chief, Car Swap Has Both 15-Time Champ and Hight on Upswing
SEATTLE, Wash. – John Force hasn’t stayed on top of his game the last quarter century by being unwilling to change.
nbsp; However, the 15-time champion’s most recent moves were extreme, even by his standards, and yet, entering this week’s 26th annual O’Reilly Northwest Nationals, Force once more is beginning to look like a chess master after swapping crew chiefs, crews and race cars with teammate and son-in-law Robert Hight.
“Sometimes, you just have to shake things up,” explained the Hall of Fame inductee (Motorsports Hall of Fame of American in 2008 and International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2012). “You gotta get the right people in the right place.”
As a result, Mike Neff, who won the NHRA championship with Force in 2010 and started the season with the 135-time tour winner, now is making the performance decisions for Hight on the Auto Club Ford.
Conversely, Jimmy Prock, who took Hight to the championship in 2009, now is turning the wrenches for Force on the Castrol GTX Ford Mustang.
Both drivers have benefitted from the move. Runner-up last week at Sonoma, Calif., in just his second race with Prock, Force has moved up to fourth place in Mello Yello points. After posting the quickest time during eliminations last week (4.018 seconds) in a critical duel with Bob Tasca III, Hight is back in the Top 10.
“We’re getting paid to win a championship,” Force said of the shuffle. “Prock and Neff have different crew chief styles (but) they’re both world championship crew chiefs. I believe I made the right call and I’m going to stick with it.
“We’ve got a good ol’ hot rod,” Force continued. “Jimmy Prock swings for the fence with the ‘Prock Rocket.’ He doesn’t mess around. I wasn’t on my game last week like I should have been, but I’ll fix that. The good thing is we can go right back to racing this week at Seattle.”
Force’s enthusiasm on the eve of his return to Pacific Raceways, a track on which he first raced in the 1970s, is understandable. After all, he’s won a record seven times at the northwestern most track in the series and last year went to the semifinals before losing to daughter, Courtney, who went on to win the race in the Traxxas Ford.
Shuffling the crew chiefs isn’t the only change Force has made this year in an attempt to reclaim a championship that has been his, as either driver or car owner, 17 of the last 23 seasons.
He also had to change his driving style after Neff pointed out a negative aspect of the heavy training regimen he adopted during his recovery from injuries suffered in September, 2007, in a crash at Dallas, Texas.
“He said since I’ve been living in the gym, building myself up, I was way over steering the car,” Force admitted. “He said I was taking it right out of the groove. So we started watching the videos and that’s exactly what was happening. He really helped me just calm down and get back to doing my job.”
The result? Force has gone to the finals four times in the last six races with two different cars, two different crews and two different crew chiefs. More important, at age 64 he has established himself, once more, as a legitimate threat to win the title.
“They were ready to print up T-shirts that said ‘John Force: Extinct,’” he said of this year’s slow start in which he advanced beyond the second round just once in the first nine races, “but I ain’t dead yet. I can still drive these hot rods I’ll know when it’s time (to get out of the car) and it ain’t time, yet.”