B. FORCE STILL No. 1 IN TOP FUEL AS RAIN IMPACTS SATURDAY AT U.S. NATIONALS
INDIANAPOLIS, IN (Aug. 31, 2013) — Rain washed out the second session of qualifying on Saturday at the Chevrolet Performance U. S. Nationals. Rookie Top Fuel driver Brittany Force held onto the provisional No. 1 qualifying position with her Friday elapsed time of 3.820 seconds. Doug Kalitta moved up to No. 2 today with this quickest run of the day, 3.829 seconds, and Force was right on his heels with a strong 3.866 second pass.
“We would’ve really liked to have that last qualifying run, just because now it’s so much cooler. We think our car could have improved and run better, but that’s just the name of the game. That’s how it is for everybody. Every other driver out there didn’t get that run. It’s not just us, that’s how the game is played and hopefully we won’t need that run,” said Force.
“That’s exactly where we want to be. This team has struggled and we’ve had our ups and downs, but we’re finally in a good place,” said Force on holding onto the No. 1 spot. “We’re No. 1 for the first time this year and again, even though we went out first round in the Traxxas Shootout, my team is behind me. We’re still pumped.”
Force’s run was posted in a tough Traxxas Top Fuel Shootout first round loss to Shawn Langdon. In the best race of the Traxxas Shootout Force, the fan favorite was racing Langdon, the No. 1 qualifier and Top Fuel points leader. Both drivers reached the finish line within .013 seconds (about six feet) of each other with Langdon getting the win light. It was a tough loss for the rookie who left the starting line .021 seconds after Langdon.
“It was really such a great experience to be able to be a part of the Traxxas Shootout. It’s such a big deal. Indy is the biggest race of the year and the shootout is just huge and to be able to get that fan vote is just awesome for the Castrol EDGE team,” said a dejected by determined Force. “We were so excited about it. I have to say thank you to the fans. Being out here and being able to compete in it, even though we went out first round against Shawn Langdon our car was running good and we’re hoping we’ll be ready for Monday.”
Force earned two qualifying bonus points bringing her bonus points total to an event career high five points. She picked up three points Friday when she ran to the top of the field. The second qualifying session today was lost to rain but there will be two sessions tomorrow.
After a three hour rain delay the Nitro Funny Car returned to the Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis with Paul Lee and Tony Pedregon making the first pass. Lee raised the stakes for the lone Funny Car session of Saturday when he covered the 1000 ft. track in 4.072 seconds to take the No. 1 position.
Two pairs later the Auto Club Ford Mustang driven by Robert Hight jumped to the No. 2 spot with his 4.056 second run at 310.91 mph. Del Worsham was beside him and moved into the top spot with a 4.045 second run. Hight was momentarily out of the top twelve before his run but the two-time U.S. Nationals was not worried about making the show. Hight eventually wound up No. 6 for his Saturday efforts.
“Would we have liked to have gone quicker? Yes, but, we needed to qualify. After only running a 4.16 last night and had a dead mag- basically a bad coil wire- we couldn’t chance throwing it away. We ran a 4.02 here in testing, but we didn’t want to be that on the edge so we backed it off and we did too much,” said Hight.
“We’re still top half of the field. I don’t like the way the ladder is shaped up right now. We race Courtney. So hopefully they can run better or someone bumps them down. That’s what we’re hoping for, but right now we’re top half and still fighting it out.”
Hight is in a tight points battle with Bob Tasca III and Del Worsham. Worsham is currently qualified No. 3 and Tasca is No. 4. IN the Mello Yello point standings Tasca is 9th, Hight is 10th and Worsham is 11th.
“Unfortunately two of the guys we’re chasing in the points are ahead of us and got points so tomorrow it’s going to be a big deal for this Auto Club Ford Mustang to be low ET both runs and that’s what we’re going to go for,” said Hight.
John Force and the Castrol GTX Ford Mustang tuned by Jimmy Prock were seeing stellar elapsed times and they loaded up their Funny Car with a strong tune-up. Two pairs in front of Force Matt Hagan blasted to the No. 1 spot with a 4.007 second pass. The Castrol GTX Mustang left hard beside rookie Chad Head but at half-track Force’s Mustang overpowered the track and cruised to a 5.091 second time. His 4.087 second run from Friday has him sitting No. 9 going into the final day of qualifying.
Courtney Force slipped to the No. 11 spot today after a good run, but no improvement, when her Traxxas Ford Mustang raced to a 4.093 ET at 316.15 mph.
“The rain cost us a run out here so we only got to make one pass after the rain quit. The conditions cooled down and everyone really went after it tonight. Unfortunately we didn’t run as good as we had hoped. The car pulled me over a little to the left early on. We really just ran close to how we ran yesterday (4.08),” said Force.
Sessions were scheduled for 4:15 p.m. and 7:10 p.m., but after the first round of Top Fuel, NHRA officials stopped racing to wait out the showers.
“We’re qualified, which is important right now. We got bumped down by quite a few people, but we’re going to go back after it tomorrow. We have to focus on the Traxxas Shootout. We know how to run good in the heat so that’s what we’re going to have to do. We start at 12:30 so I’m excited to see what this Traxxas Ford Mustang can do. I think we have a pretty good car this weekend,” said Force.
Force, who qualified No. 1 last year during her rookie season, will take on Johnny Gray in the first round of the Traxxas Nitro Funny Car Shootout on Sunday.
“The fact that we can run 4.0s consistently on both passes; not just in the heat and not just in the cool air, but both, is pretty exciting. I’m looking forward to tomorrow. Hopefully the rain stays away and we can get on with the Traxxas Shootout,” said Force.
John Force and Courtney Force will also be competing in the 2nd annual Traxxas Funny Car Nitro Shootout tomorrow. John Force will be facing Cruz Pedregon and Courtney Force will be facing Johnny Gray in the $100,000 to win “race within a race.” The first round of the Shootout will be run in conjunction with the first qualifying session of the day and the semi-finals will be contested during the final qualifying session. The Traxxas Nitro Shootout final round is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. and could feature and Force vs. Force final.