PHOENIX – John Force and the Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang did not lose a step in the off-season and he hasn’t slowed down with an off-week after his season opening win at the Circle K NHRA Winternationals. Force’s Jimmy Prock and Danny DeGennaro tuned Ford Mustang set the track elapsed time and speed record at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park with his Friday afternoon run of 3.990 seconds at 317.79 mph. It was another dominant performance from the winningest driver in NHRA history.

“I am excited. I love this sport. I came here in 1985 at the first national event. I was learning how to drive and our NHRA announcer Alan Reinhardt was learning how to announce. I match raced here almost ten years before that. I know this race track but so does Jimmy Prock. They gave us a good surface and a good race track. NHRA prepped it right and we are going to try and keep giving these fans a show,” said Force, the provisional No. 1 qualifier.

The last time John Force had his Castrol GTX High Mileage Mustang in the winner’s circle in Phoenix was 2005, and he’d like to end his drought in the desert.

“We thought it was going to go on the first run and it got loose out there. We watched Robert Hight and Mike Neff run that 4.03 in that Auto Club Ford so we knew it was there. We also wanted to make sure we got it in tonight. I think Jimmy had it pulled back just a bit but it ran just as smooth as can be,” said Force. “It probably could have run a little quicker. I am excited. I want to thank the investors that are reinvesting in our sport. We need good people like that and I want to thank them. That is why we need to bring the fans in here and we have to run 3.90s and we have to give them a show. It is starting to cool down so that is why you are seeing these big numbers.”

If Force’ elapsed time holds the top spot through Saturday it would be the fifth straight race for Force to be No. 1. The last time he started No. 1 at five straight races was in his Driver of the Year season in 1996.  His personal record for consecutive No. 1 starts is six in 1994.  He’s started from No. 1 at the first two races of the season just twice, once in 1999 and again in 2002.

While Force was running away from the field his teammate and JFR president Robert Hight was hot on his heels in the Auto Club Ford Mustang. Hight and his Mike Neff tuned Funny Car smoked the tires in the first session but came back strong in the second session on Friday. He was the second pair of Funny Cars of the session and posted a then category quickest 4.030 second run. That run held up as the quickest of the day until Force rolled his Castrol Funny Car through the water box. Hight was philosophic about losing the top spot.

“That second run was just what we were looking for. We were up early so we wanted to be aggressive but not too aggressive. You hate to go into Saturday without a time. I wasn’t sure if that 4.03 would hold up as No. 1 but if someone had to go around me I would want it to be a teammate. John and Jimmy are on a roll and it is helping the whole team, said Hight the 2012 CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals winner. “All the crew chiefs are talking and trying to figure out this new racing surface. The NHRA did a good prep job and I think the more runs you get on the track the better the times will be. I am looking forward getting back to the track tomorrow with this Auto Club Ford Mustang.”

Courtney Force began the weekend at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park with big numbers in the Funny Car category. This is a memorable track for the Traxxas Funny Car driver, who got her first win against her dad at this track and went to her first semi-final round of her career her rookie season.

“I’m so excited to be back here in Phoenix at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park. I want to thank the staff and everyone out here at this track that put in a ton of hard work over the off season and got the facility ready to host the CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA Nationals this weekend. The track has been good to us so far and we really appreciate all of the improvements,” said Force.

In the opening qualifying session, Force posted a 4. 096 elapsed at over 304 mph and went to the No. 1 spot. The 25-year-old kept a firm grasp on the top position until the very last pair of Funny Cars; when competitor Matt Hagan ran a 4.091 seconds, just five-thousandths quicker than Force.

“We ran good out of the box today with a 4.09 and that put us in the No. 2 spot at the end of the first session. It was a lot of fun being in the No. 2 spot for a while with my sister Brittany, who was in the No. 2 spot in the Top Fuel category. I think that was pretty exciting for both of us,” said Force.

Force came back in the second qualifying session and lined up beside fellow female Funny Car driver Alexis DeJoria. Force got a big jump off the line and was quicker until the sixty foot lights when her Traxxas Ford Mustang smoked the tires.

“We made some changes on the car after the Winternationals at Pomona. We didn’t do as well as we had wanted there so coming here we wanted to try some new things. It didn’t work so well for us in Q2, but tomorrow is a new day with two more qualifying shots and we’re going to see what kind of numbers we can put down,” said Force.

Brittany Force made two great qualifying runs today, piloting her Castrol EDGE Dragster at the CARQUEST NHRA Nationals. With a strong 3.83 pass on the first session, her team, led by crew chief Todd Smith, stepped it up for the next session and improved with a potent 3.814 run that put Brittany in the top half of the field in the provisional No. 7 spot.

“I’m glad to be back out here at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park. We ran our first qualifying pass and it was great to be able to end up No. 2. Courtney was also No. 2, so it was kind of cool for us to have that status both at the same time. We were both No.1 for a little while, but got bumped down by the end of the first session,” said Brittany Force.

The team is starting to gel and get in the groove. “We ran a 3.83 earlier in the day and then came back and improved with a 3.81. My team is excited about that and we are comfortable in the number seven spot. I’m excited to see what we can do tomorrow, because right now we are in a good spot, but still have two shots to improve,” said Brittany Force.

With improvements at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park, many of the drivers and crew chiefs had some reservations regarding the new pavement, and how it would handle their 10,000 horsepower dragsters and Funny Cars. After Brittany’s solid first qualifying session, the team got a baseline number to work with and hopped up her Castrol EDGE Dragster for the second run.

“I think this race track out here in Phoenix getting a whole new makeover is awesome; it was exactly what it needed. The track is supposed to be smoother and better and I can’t complain because it has been really good to us so far. It’s a beautiful track and we’re glad to be out here racing on it.”