JFR SOLID ON FRIDAY AT ATLANTA
COMMERCE, GA – John Force Racing came out swinging at the 34th annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals at Atlanta Dragway. In the opening session John Force and Robert Hight were the two quickest Funny Cars with Courtney Force just a shade off the quick pace. Brittany Force and the Castrol EDGE Top Fuel dragster were in the top half of the field going into the second session. At the end of the day all four JFR entries would carry qualifying times over into Saturday’s final day of qualifying.
As the Mello Yello points leaders Hight and Force had their Auto Club and Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang Funny Cars at the back of the pack for the first qualifying session. Being able to see all their competitors make runs proved fortuitous for the championship drivers as Force blasted down the track in 4.077 seconds and Hight was right beside the 16-time champion running 4.093 seconds.
Once again at the back of the pack in the second session Hight pulled up in the left lane and his Mike Neff tuned Funny Car was set up to make a run at provisional No. 1 Alexis DeJoria and her 4.01 second low elapsed time. Hight’s Auto Club Mustang left hard but smoked the tires at about 200 feet.
“The conditions were there to make an aggressive run. We knew our run from the first session had us in the top four so Neff took a shot. We will get our race day tune up squared away tomorrow. The weather could be tricky but we will just go out and run as hard as we can,” said Hight.
John Force showed the fans and his competitors that he and crew chief Jimmy Prock did their homework during the two-week break in racing action. His Castrol EDGE High Mileage Mustang blazed Atlanta Dragway with a 4.077 pass at over 311 mph to grab the number one spot right out of the gate during the first qualifying session at the NHRA Southern Nationals.
“Jimmy Prock and the guys have been working hard getting things sorted out and it showed on that first pass. Jimmy did good and I hung on when I hit the throttle,” said John Force.
For their hard work, John Force picked up three NHRA Mello Yello Bonus Points for qualifying number one on the session.
At the last two races, the GTX High Mileage team had been thrashing just to get John’s Mustang qualified in the field. It was apparent that his Mustang wasn’t running as well as it had been earlier in the season, and crew chief Jimmy Prock knew there were some issues that needed to be addressed in John’s 8000 horsepower Funny Car. The two-week hiatus in the NHRA schedule gave the team the time needed to regroup and fix some things.
“That 4.07 pass is good for us, as we’d been struggling during qualifying at the last few races. We went back to the shop after the last race and found some things that needed fixing,” said crew chief Jimmy Prock.
During the second session, held in the evening, the chilly night air had dropped the temperature of the track surface. These conditions can present their own set of challenges for the drivers and crew chiefs, but if they hit the set up just right, track records will fall. Unfortunately for John Force, his Castrol GTX High Mileage Mustang overpowered the massive Goodyear slicks before half-track, thus resulting in a 7.274 pass.
John Force ended the day qualified in the number three spot, but he will have two more opportunities on Saturday to get the Castrol GTX High Mileage Mustang back into the pole position.
Courtney Force and the Traxxas Funny Car made a decent run in the first session posting a 4.182 second pass. The team was simply trying to get a time on the board and be in position to move up in the night session. A long delay in the first Top Fuel session pushed back the Funny Car second session and the cool temperatures provided the backdrop of a hit or miss Funny Car second session. Force was the first JFR Funny Car out and she smoked the tires and will go into Saturday in the provisional No. 9 spot with an ET of 4.182 seconds.
With all the talk of the potential for a 100th professional win for a female competitor at this weekend’s NHRA Southern Nationals, Brittany Force is just focused and getting her Castrol EDGE Dragster qualified in the top half of the field. With a strong 3.904 second pass at 304.32 mph, she drove her car to a number nine spot after the first qualifying session.
“It feels good to come to Atlanta Dragway and put down a good number. We have a brand new chassis that my guys are still trying to sort out, but it’s already showing improvements,” said Brittany Force.
The 2013 NHRA Rookie of the Year, who’s in her sophomore year racing in the Top Fuel category, has been steadily improving as a driver this season. Despite having three new crew members at this race, Brittany is making sure her routine remains consistent so she can go rounds and hopefully win her first NHRA Top Fuel race.
On the second qualifying run, Brittany’s 10,000 horsepower dragster smoked the tires at the hit of the throttle, which was a blessing, as Antron Brown who was in the next lane, suffered an accident right at the finish line. Luckily, Antron Brown was unharmed in the incident and both he and Brittany will have two more qualifying sessions to make performance improvements and hopefully move up from the number 10 spot she’s currently in.
“Watching Antron from my view it literally looked like the Fourth of July as I saw sparks and flames coming from his dragster. I didn’t know what was going on but luckily I smoked the tires pretty early on in the run as it shook really hard and rattle so I got out of it. I’m glad Antron is okay after his harrowing run and seeing him get out right away is a blessing. Since both our cars use a canopy, I feel safer as a driver and more comfortable in the car. In racing, sometimes things go bad but fortunately he was okay and we get to do it again tomorrow,” said Brittany Force.