HIGHT LOOKING TO MAKE NOISE AT FORD THUNDER VALLEY NATIONALS
BRISTOL, TN (June 10, 2014) — With four wins to his credit in 2014 Robert Hight is looking to equal his best career win total of five with a second victory at the Ford Thunder Valley NHRA Nationals this weekend. In 2011 Hight recorded his first and only win at the historic track and it was in that same season that he picked up five national event wins. Unfortunately, his second NHRA Mello Yello Funny Car championship eluded him at the end of the season.
“Getting that win in Bristol was big. This is a race that I always wanted to win because there is so much history here. We won five times but finished third in the points at the end of the season in 2011. I want to dominate all season and win the championship,” said Hight.
Hight is well on his way to dominating in 2014. He has had a string of six consecutive final round appearances so far this season and only one first round loss. Over that stretch of six races he picked up four wins including three in a row. The Auto Club team has a commanding lead in the Mello Yello point standings but Hight and the rest of the team are not looking at the scoreboard they are focused on the finish line.
“We have gotten off to fast starts before but we didn’t finish. This season is all about focus and finishing strong. I have a great crew chief in Mike Neff along with the other JFR crew chiefs and we are racing smart. I have a lot of confidence and we are just racing as hard as the track allows us. We lost our final round streak in Englishtown but that just means we have to start another streak in Bristol,” said Hight, a 33-time national event winner.
The John Force Racing Funny Car trio led by Hight at the top of the points followed by 16-time Funny Car champion John Force in second place and a surging Courtney Force are all solidly in the Top Ten as well as locked into the prestigious Traxxas Nitro Shootout. Every year of Hight’s career he has won multiple national events and he has only not led the points at least one week of the season only one time in the past decade.
“I have had great equipment and great teams behind me since I started racing in 2005. You don’t win 33 times without a great team and I don’t take mine for granted. I know how hard they all work and as a former crew man I know how hard these cars are to work with. We all work together on this Auto Club team to do everything right so there are no fire drills and no panic. The focus we have as a team comes from being confident in the teammate beside you and that is one of the things that is great about JFR we are all one team working together,” said Hight.
COURTNEY FORCE WANTS TO GRAB SECOND WIN OF SEASON IN BRISTOL
BRISTOL, TN (June 10, 2014) —- Courtney Force has competed at Bristol Dragway twice in her short professional Funny Car career. During her rookie year in 2012, the Traxxas Ford Mustang driver qualified No. 13 and came back in 2013 to qualify No. 11. The 2012 Rookie of the Year suffered unfortunate first round losses in the first round both years, first to Ron Capps and then to her father, Funny Car legend John Force.
“I feel like we’ve turned our luck and confidence around a lot lately and being that we haven’t done well here in the past, I’m excited to get back to Bristol and improve from the past couple years. We’ve had tough first round losses here since our Traxxas team was put together, but I think if we can get our car figured out early in qualifying we can turn our luck around,” said Force.
Last year, Force was ousted in the first round by her father, John Force, en route to his first event win of 2013. The margin of victory for John was just .003 seconds. Courtney’s time was the second quickest Funny Car ET of the first round.
“We’ve got a competitive race car and I’m ready for another Father’s Day match-up on the track, against my dad. I think it’s time to give the Bristol fans a great show this Father’s Day weekend,” said Force.
The Traxxas Ford is the fastest Funny Car ever to negotiate the eighth mile course at 325.34 mph and has posted top speed at four of nine races this year. She has also gone to the final round in back-to-back races for the first time in her professional driving career. She was runner-up at Atlanta and took home the 100th professional win for women in the NHRA at Topeka when she dismissed Cruz Pedregon in the final.
“It feels great knowing that we have got one of the fastest hot rods on the circuit. We may not be winning every race, but we are pushing in the right direction by making this car more consistent on the track with these top speeds. Being that we’ve been in back to back finals lately gives my Traxxas team a boost of confidence going into Bristol,” said Force.
With the Topeka win Force also locked up an all-important spot in the third annual Traxxas Nitro Shootout. This is the second year in a row that Force will not have to rely on fans and the lucky bounce of a lottery ball to race for the $100,000 grand prize during the U.S. Nationals. Having a spot secured took a fair amount of pressure off the third year driver.
“You definitely want to represent your sponsor in the Traxxas Nitro Shootout but I have some added pressure since my sponsor is Traxxas. They have been with me since I started racing professionally and I want to get that trophy for my team and also as a show of thanks to Traxxas president Mike Jenkins for his faith in me. We have a race car that is running really well and I like our chances going forward,” said Force.
BRITTANY FORCE BOUND AND DETERMINED FOR BRISTOL WIN
Despite having a weekend off from doing battle on drag strips across America, all Brittany Force thought about these past few days was getting on the road and heading to Bristol Dragway. The 2013 NHRA Rookie of the Year may have been in Southern California with her family and friends this past week, but her mind was behind the wheel of her 10,000 horsepower Castrol EDGE Dragster. This 27 year-old driver, who worked her way up through the Sportsman classes, is determined to bring home her first Top Fuel win at this weekend’s Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals.
“I think I perform better when we’re constantly on the move and have back-to-back races. It keeps my focus in the right place. Luckily it’s only one weekend off, so it shouldn’t faze any of us and it won’t be that hard for me and the crew to get back into our routine when we arrive in Bristol,” said Brittany Force.
After coming off a strong finish two weeks ago at the Toyota NHRA Summernationals, in which Brittany drove her dragster to a top-ten qualifying position and quarterfinal finish, she wants to keep the momentum going. Her sophomore year in the Top Fuel class has seen a dramatic improvement from her rookie season.
So far this year, Brittany Force has made it to the finals and has even claimed a number one qualifying spot – both of which are huge milestones for Castrol EDGE and John Force Racing. The Castrol EDGE Dragster has been getting more consistent at each race, and the crew and Brittany are working even more as a cohesive unit.
“This Castrol EDGE team is so much stronger than it was last year. Todd Smith (crew chief) and Dean Antonelli (assistant crew chief) and the rest of my guys have been doing awesome this season. We’ve been qualifying great, going rounds and looking stong,” said Brittany Force.
During last year’s Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals, Brittany Force and her Castrol EDGE Top Fuel Dragster began to head in the right direction, despite having no race data, as it was the team’s first time at Bristol Dragway. On the fourth and final qualifying session, she was the second quickest and earned two qualifying bonus points. She also won her fourth competitive round for her 2013 NHRA Rookie of Year bid. It was one of the most successful races during her Top Fuel rookie season with Brittany qualifying in the top h
alf of the field and then advancing to her second quarterfinals in a row.
It was in the second round in which Brittany Force faced fellow Top Fuel competitor Spencer Massey. As both dragsters left the starting line, it was a side-by-side battle all the way down Bristol Dragway, with Massey just nudging past Brittany with his 3.864-second time to her 3.871-second pass.
Currently eighth in the NHRA Mello Yello points chase, Brittany’s happy with the direction her team is heading. Even tough she was disappointed in her quarterfinal loss at the NHRA Toyota Nationals, she’s still very pleased with how her team has stepped up its game with strong and consistent qualifying performances at the last few races.
For now, the always-optimistic 27 year-old Brittany Force and her team are looking forward to getting their first win at Bristol Dragway. With what they’ve learned these past twelve months, it could happen. Right now, Brittany’s focused on her reaction times, qualifying in the top half of the field, getting lane choice and going rounds on race day.
“I’m very proud of my guys, and we ran great at Englishtown. I was hoping to make it to the finals but we have another chance at Bristol Dragway this weekend,” said Brittany Force.
JOHN FORCE EAGER TO TURN THINGS AROUND AT THUNDER VALLEY
Legendary drag racer John Force may have been in a slump these past few races on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, but rest assured, it’s making the 16-time NHRA Funny Car Champ work even harder in chasing another world title. Eager to turn things around at this weekend’s Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals, John Force knows his Castrol GTX High Mileage Mustang has the horsepower to win races and a crew who are the best in the business.
However, the Castrol GTX High Mileage Team knows that getting snake-bit by mechanical gremlins on race day can be frustrating for even the most experienced teams. They also know they can’t continue going down that path if they are going to stay in the hunt for the NHRA Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship.
“We are struggling with the clutch setup in the car. It’s been real inconsistent, but I’ve got my brain trust working on it. Jimmy Prock (crew chief), Danny DeGennaro (assistant crew chief) and the rest of the guys will get the clutch issues fixed before Bristol. Lately, this hot rod hasn’t done a good job for our sponsors like Castrol, Auto Club, Traxxas, Mac Tools, Peak and BrandSource. That needs to change, and fast,” said John Force.
Nevertheless, the veteran drag racer is always optimistic and doesn’t dwell on the last race. John Force knows all too well the legacy of his accomplishments at Bristol Dragway. If history can repeat itself, this weekend’s Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals could be the race in which John Force breaks out of the slump and starts going rounds again.
With a weekend off before heading to Bristol, John Force didn’t just sit back and relax. He was on the move and doing what he does best, promoting his brand.
“We took our travelling road show up to Canada. It was on display at the Hardcore Horsepower Shootout at St. Thomas Raceway Park over in London, Ontario. We showed the fans some of our cool hot rods and they really liked them,” said John Force.
John Force loves branching out to new venues, but his heart is still behind the wheel and strapped into his 8000 horsepower Castrol GTX High Mileage Mustang. He also knows it was at the Ford Thunder Valley Nationals last year that his 18-month drought, in which he had been winless for 31 races, would finally end.
John ended up qualifying sixth with a strong 4.071 second run, and went all the way to the finals on race day, winning the Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals for the fourth time. It was also at this event that John Force secured a spot in the second annual Traxxas Shootout.
During last year’s Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals, John Force to had race daughter Courtney in the opening round. It may have been Father’s Day, but Courtney wasn’t going to hand a win over to her father. She was going for the win, and despite her .088 reaction time advantage to his .092 and the great side-by-side race they gave the fans, Courtney just came up short as John crossed the finish line first.
John Force would go on to defeat the 2011 NHRA Funny Car champ Matt Hagan and newcomer Blake Alexander before squaring off against rival Cruz Pedregon in the final round, ultimately claiming his fifth win at Bristol Dragway.
Once again, this year’s Ford NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals Sunday eliminations will take place on Father’s Day. Racing legend John Force would like nothing more than to be surrounded by his family in the winner’s circle at Bristol Dragway as he lifts the iconic Wally over his head for claiming his 140th career victory.
With his win at this year’s NHRA Winternationals and final-round appearances at the NHRA Gatornationals in Gainesville, Florida and the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals in Charlotte, we’d like to think the chances are in his favor to receive the best Father’s Day present this weekend.