B. FORCE STAYS No. 1; HIGHT No. 4 AT BRISTOL
BRISTOL, TN – For the second time in her career, Brittany Force and her Castrol EDGE Top Fuel Dragster will race from the number one qualifying position this Sunday at the Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals. The 2013 Auto Club NHRA Rookie of the Year has secured her second number one qualifying position within the last three NHRA races with a stellar 3.82 second run at 317.94 mph.
“The Castrol EDGE team is excited, pumped and ready for race day tomorrow. My guys have really worked hard on this Castrol EDGE Dragster and it’s really coming around,” said Brittany Force.
Brittany Force will run Top Fuel veteran and racing legend Chris “The Greek” Karamesines in the opening round on Sunday. This will be the first time these two drivers have faced each other in competition and you couldn’t ask for a more diverse match up. Brittany, who is 27 years old and in her sophomore year behind the wheel of her Castrol EDGE Dragster and Chris Karamesines, who is well over 80 years old and has been racing since the 1950s.
“It’ll be awesome to run in the lane next to the legendary Chris ‘The Greek’ Karamesines. I’ve read so much about him and what he’s accomplished in drag racing over the 50 years. It will be a good show for the fans,” said Brittany Force.
With this being Brittany’s second number one qualifying position in the last three races, it’s not a fluke the Castrol EDGE team has done their homework and is working as a cohesive unit. Brittany’s also been improving as driver and her third qualifying run today of 3.874 seconds at 316.60 mph drives that point home.
“We made three great runs here and we’re looking to go rounds tomorrow. Every time I make a pass in this dragster, I’m learning as a driver and the runs we made today and yesterday will gives my team something to work with come race day,” added Force.
With four races in a row and the second number one qualifying position in the last three races, Brittany Force and the Castrol EDGE team has done a complete transformation from this time year.
“With this second number one qualifying run in the last three races, it just builds the whole team up, not just me. The crew chiefs and the guys are pumped for race day. Going in tomorrow, our confidence will be high and the guys will be even more aggressive and motivated,” said Brittany Force.
With Father’s Day this Sunday, Brittany Force would like nothing more than to present her legendary dad and 16-NHRA Mello Yello World Champion, John Force, a win tomorrow.
“I love coming to Bristol Dragway, its beautiful and one of my favorite tracks. It’s loud, intense and it is a cool place to race. It would be the ultimate Father’s Day present to my dad if I could win this race tomorrow. That would be a pretty awesome Father’s Day gift,” said Brittany Force.
The hot conditions on Saturday threw a number of the teams curves balls but Robert Hight’s Auto Club team handled the tricky conditions and feels confident going into race day. In the first session today the Auto Club Mustang got loose at half-track posting a pedestrian 6.777 second elapsed time. In the final session crew chief Mike Neff set the Funny Car up to make a conservative run to get data for race day and his strategy worked perfectly as Hight drove right down the middle of his lane in 4.210 seconds at 305.49 mph.
“The conditions changed quite a bit from yesterday to today but we made a great run in the first session and then Neff is doing his usual deal working his way to a race day tune-up. It was really hot today and the track was tricky but all the crew chiefs are getting together. John (Force) made three good runs so we are all sharing info for tomorrow. I want to get back into the winner’s circle and we’ll ready,” said Hight, the current Mello Yello points leader.
Hight settled into the No. 4 qualifying position based on his 4.074 second pass on Friday. He will race Justin Schriefer of Grand Park, Illinois in the first round. They have met twice before but not since 2010 with Hight holding a 2-0 record.
Courtney Force took her Traxxas Ford Mustang to the No. 6 spot in qualifying this weekend at Bristol Dragway and will have lane choice over Jack Beckman in the first round on Sunday. Force posted a 4.077 during Friday’s night session and the time held through both of Saturday’s sessions to give her the No. 6 spot. This is the first time the Traxxas Ford Mustang driver has qualified in the top half of the field at the Thunder Valley Nationals.
“It’s great being out here in Bristol and to see that we have a consistent race car. We got in down the track on every run in qualifying except one. Obviously for the last run we were going after a better number to see if we could improve and we just weren’t able to get it down there,” said Force.
On Saturday, Force posted a 4.20 ET for their first run of the day with a cylinder out and slowing the car, and smoked the tires in the follow-up run in the heat of the day.
“We’ve been slowed by having cylinders out in some of those runs so I’m hoping tomorrow on race day we can get everything together, get the momentum going and not have some of the problems we’ve had in qualifying. I think we will get them all sorted out. Either way, we have a quick race car qualified in the top half of the field so I’m proud of my guys; my whole Traxxas team for getting me there and I’m looking forward to race day tomorrow,” said Force.
Force is 4-2 against Beckman, winning their last three meetings. The pair met three times during Force’s Rookie year in 2012 and three times last year in 2013, but this is the first time they have lined up beside each other this season.
“It’s going to be fun being out here with my dad on Father’s Day. He’s qualified in the top half of the field as well and I won’t see him until the semis if I do get to race him. I’m excited. I have a tough first round match up with Jack Beckman. We’re going to give it all we got,” said Force.
John Force and his Castrol GTX High Mileage Mustang will be hopped up and raring to go on race day. The reigning NHRA Mello Yello Funny Car Champion qualified No. 7, making three solid and consistent qualifying runs on a hot race track, picking up six NHRA Mello Yello Bonus Qualifying Points and ending up in the top half of the field.
“We’ve been struggling these last few races but the guys have obviously pulled this race car back. Working together with Mike Neff (Crew Chief/Auto Club Mustang) and all our teams, we just needed to slow my hot rod down a bit. Even at that, it still runs in the top four or five, so it’s more about strategy than just power, and we’ll see what we can do tomorrow,” said John Force.
During the last few races, the Castrol GTX High Mileage team has had clutch issues, but crew chief Jimmy Prock and the crew have fixed it, as Force’s Funny Car ran 4.099, 4.144 and 4.148 right down Bristol Dragway. With his confidence renewed, the 2013 Bristol winner is still not taking his first round opponent lightly.
John Force will face Alexis DeJoria in round one tomorrow. These two fiercely competitive drivers have squared off against each other 12 times in the past, with John winning eight times. However, John knows there are no easy rivals and any driver can hand him loss a very quickly if he and the Castrol GTX High Mileage team don’t come out swinging on race day.
“I’m really proud of all my drivers, but especially Brittany. That team has really pulled together over there, as Todd Smith (Crew Chief/Castrol EDGE Dragster) and Dean ‘Guido’ Antonelli (Assistant Crew Chief/Castrol EDGE Dragster) and those new kids have a lot of heart, and heart is what this game is all about,” said John Force.
Going into Father’s Day this Sunday, it will be very special for John Force. It was racing that took him on the road for many decades and away fr
om his children, but now, years later, it is racing that brings them together.
“That’s why I’m still out here, so I can be with my kids. I was alone so many times and when I lost, I really missed them. It was the crowds that got me through the day when I failed, but to be racing with my kids is awesome,” said John Force.
John Force and his teams are in a building stage, as fresh faces have given renewed energy to this racing dynasty. It’s this energy that keeps John Force motivated and chasing his 140th career win and even another NHRA Mello Yello World Championship.
“We added PEAK this year and we want to keep winning races and showing our sponsors what we can do for them. I was in Charlotte on Monday for a PEAK appearance on their Stock Car reality TV show. You see the passion of these kids and it motivates me,” said Force.