John Force Racing Heads to Route 66 Nationals

CHICAGO (July 7, 2015) — John Force by his own admission was at a crossroads most of last season. The winningest driver in NHRA history was looking for new sponsors for his 16-time championship Funny Car team as well as his daughter Brittany’s Top Fuel dragster. Force attacked the opportunity with the tenacity that led him to go from an on-track menace early in his career to the leader of the most dominant teams in motorsports history.

“We knew we are losing two big sponsors and we knew we had to get to work. For the past eighteen month leading up to this season Robert Hight (JFR president and driver of the Auto Club Chevrolet Camaro SS) and I had meeting every day. We were working the phones and it all started to come together when a Chicago company, Peak Anti-Freeze, stepped up and bought my Funny Car for most of the season. After we got Peak we added Lucas Oil and then we landed Chevrolet. My daughters got the Monster Energy deal for the Top Fuel dragster and now we are in a much better place,” said Force, a three time winner in Chicago.
In April Force picked up his first win of the season in a close race over teammate Robert Hight. His Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car was emblazoned with the Chevrolet Bowtie as well as new sponsors Peak, Lucas Oil and long-standing sponsors Auto Club, Traxxas, and Mac Tools. It was a big moment for the 16-time champion and a major step forward in the rebuilding process that began nearly two years earlier.
Last month Force took another leap with his second win of the season in an emotional victory over veteran Tommy Johnson Jr., in the final round of the New England NHRA Nationals. Force’s Camaro was in the now familiar blue Peak colors and it was the team’s first win with Peak Anti-Freeze as the primary sponsor. At the top end Force was full of fire and energy as he spoke to ESPN’s Gary Gerould.
“This was a big win for John Force Racing and for Peak. I am going to give Bryan Emrich and his people this trophy. They stood by me and stepped up. They were one of the first companies to come on board when we needed some new money,” exclaimed Force.
Force will fulfill that promise on Thursday when all four JFR drivers will attend an employee luncheon at Old World Industries, Peak’s parent company, outside of Chicago in advance of the Lucas Oil Rt. 66 NHRA Nationals. The drivers will sign autographs for the employees and present Emrich with the trophy at noon.
Force has secured his spot in the Traxxas Funny Car Nitro Shootout, the $100,000 to win specialty race, which he has won twice including last year. The cagey veteran would like to continue winning with his young team to continue to show the fans, sponsors and media that even with 143 career Funny Car wins he hasn’t reached his peak of performance. The winningest driver in NHRA history attributes some of his motivation and rekindled passion to his new crew chief Jon Schaffer and a brand new team of young gun crewmen.
“Jon Schaffer has done a great job and he learned a lot from Mike Neff. He is making the right calls and the biggest thing is he is a young guy with a lot of energy. I feed off the energy of my crew guys and they motivate me. Some of these guys weren’t born when I started winning championships. I want to give them my best because they are pouring their heart and souls into this race car. It reminds me of why we are out here doing this. It is entertainment and it is to hear the roar of the crowd,” said Force.
Force has heard the roar of the Chicago crowd three times as the winner in 2006, 2004, and 2000 and also has two runner-up finishes, 2001 and 1999.

CHICAGO (July 7, 2015) — For two-time Lucas Oil Rt. 66 finalist Robert Hight the 2015 Mello Yello Drag Racing Series regular season has been a feast or famine adventure. The 2009 NHRA Funny Car champion started the season with three semi-final finishes and a loss in the final round to teammate John Force in the Las Vegas in the first six races. The Auto Club Chevrolet Camaro SS team was confident but they also knew that early season success did not guarantee future wins.
“We knew we were running well but we also knew we needed to change some things to really dominate down the road. Mike Neff and I talked about how we could try some things that would help us and also help everyone at John Force Racing for the future. You are always trying to test different things with these Funny Cars but sometimes you have to really commit to figure some new tune-ups out with new parts,” said Hight, a former clutch specialist.
The team embarked on a frustrating stretch but has begun to see improvement in Bristol, Tennessee and last weekend in Norwalk, Ohio.
“Since Bristol our goal has been to get four quality runs in a row. We made some improvements in Bristol and we are taking our time in getting this tune-up just right. Mike and I are pretty pleased with the performance and improvement,” said Hight, after his season best starting spot, No. 3, in Norwalk.
During the Norwalk race Hight’s Auto Club Chevrolet Camaro SS was consistent through both days of qualifying positing run times of 4.11 and 4.107 in the early qualifying sessions and then 4.040 and 4.003 in the two evening sessions. In the first round Hight continued to post top tier times with a winning run of 4.078 seconds over Tony Pedregon.
“We will have double night sessions again this weekend in Chicago so I think we will have a great tune-up to run at the top of the qualifying sheet. We have a plan of attack and we are starting to see some success. My guys are giving me a good race car and I have to do my job on the starting line and going down the track,” said Hight, the 34-time NHRA Funny Car winner.
The last three races at Rt. 66 Raceway Hight has qualified in the top half of the field and raced to the quarter-finals. He has two No. 1 qualifiers at the Lucas Oil Rt. 66 NHRA Nationals in his career. While qualifying helps in generating a good starting position the addition of the qualifying bonus points is also a nice incentive.
“We are getting to the point in the regular season where ever little point counts. There are six races left before the Countdown and you want to be locked in as early as possible. There are also two spots open for the Traxxas Funny Car Shootout out. John Force already has a guaranteed spot and I would like to lock one up so you don’t have to worry about the fan vote and lottery. We aren’t getting ahead of ourselves by any means. We have a lot of goal every weekend and the first one is always get a good start in that first qualifying session,” concluded Hight.

CHICAGO (July 7, 2015) —- Fresh off a runner-up finish in Norwalk, Ohio at the 9th annual Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals, Courtney Force is more than anxious to get back in her Traxxas Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car for the thirteenth stop along the 2015 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing series tour. The 18th Annual Lucas Oil Route 66 NHRA Nationals presented by General Tire will give Force the opportunity to go for the win, only days after her first final round appearance of the season, the fourteenth of her young career.
“I can’t wait to get back in the seat of my Funny Car especially after a solid final round appearance last weekend in Norwalk. Our team has so much more confidence just after last weekend and how well we did. They gave me a great race car all weekend and it was consistent through race day and we almost had it in the final. Of course heading into a final round always boosts your confidence the following weekend and motivates everyone that much more to go out and try to repeat,” Force said.
Chicago was the site of Force’s first ever Funny Car final round in 2012 during her rookie season. She qualified No. 12 that weekend and dismissed Bob Tasca III, Robert Hight and Alexis DeJoria before coming up short in the final round beside veteran Jeff Arend. In the past two years, Force has qualified in the top half of the field at both Chicago events, claiming a No. 5 position and a No. 7 position, both good for lane choice on race day.
“Our Traxxas team has done well at this track in the past so I’m hoping we can continue that luck here this weekend. We are fully focused on collecting qualifying points and pushing towards getting our car qualified in that top half. We did a great job closing that gap from the No. 11 spot to the No. 10 spot and if we can keep picking up points in qualifying we can give ourselves less work to do on race day,” Force said.
Today, the 27-year-old Funny Car driver is the winningest female in Funny Car history with seven tour victories and has the most Funny Car wins by a female in one season with four (Topeka 2014, Sonoma 2014, Dallas 2014, St. Louis 2014). She raced to the 100th professional win for women in the NHRA last year in Topeka and has started from the No. 1 position eight times since her Funny Car debut.
“Looking back to the start of our season to now, our team has made a lot of progress and we have made some big strides lately which is showing in our performance. We had ourselves set back in points, but are really coming together as a team and closing the gap. We are all excited for this weekend and hoping to leave in the top 10. This weekend will take a lot of hard work, but we are up for the challenge,” said Force who currently sits in the No. 11 position in the NHRA Mello Yello Funny Car point standings, just five points behind Alexis DeJoria in the No. 10 spot.

CHICAGO (July 7, 2015) — Last year second year driver Brittany Force had a great weekend at the Lucas Oil Rt. 66 NHRA Nationals racing to the final round for the second time in her young career. Unfortunately she came up a few hundredths of a second short of grabbing her first career win in Top Fuel. This weekend Force will try and get one more round win at the Rt. 66 Raceway in Joliet and take the Monster Energy Top Fuel dragster into the winner’s circle.
The third year driver has been on a hot streak of sorts over the past five races with a final round appearance and two additional semi-final finishes. The grind of the NHRA Mello Yello Series season does not affect the Yorba Linda, Calif., driver but rather gives her some comfort.
“I like the back to back races. I get into my routine and I notice that my driving improves. My reaction time lights are better on back to back races. I am just more on my game. We will go straight to Chicago and I am ready to get back to the track. We want to step it up in qualifying and try and get four good runs. We qualified well here but we really need the data from multiple runs. We are going to go after it with a lot of confidence in Chicago,” said Force, who has five final round appearances to her credit.
The recent success has the 2013 Automobile Club of Southern California award winner, as NHRA rookie of the year, has Force sitting in the No. 8 spot in the Mello Yello point standings. Force has a solid 88 point lead, equal to five rounds of racing, over the driver in 11th place with six races left before the end of the regular season. The focus for the Monster Energy team is going rounds and chasing that elusive first win.
“I am so proud of my crew chiefs Todd Smith and Ronnie Thompson. We had to be conservative at the start of the season because we were trying to put this Monster Energy sponsorship deal together. Once we announced Monster in Atlanta we have been able to be more aggressive and it has given me more confidence. Last year we went to the final in Chicago and I would love to get one more round win at the Lucas Oil Rt. 66 Nationals this weekend,” said Force.
The Top Fuel class this season has been one filled with parity and close racing. Six different drivers have won races and ten different drivers have raced in a final round. The number of different Top Fuel finalist is the second most in the regular season in the Countdown era and the regular season still has six races left heading into the Lucas Oil Rt. 66 NHRA Nationals.
In her rookie season debut at Rt. 66 Raceway Force qualified No. 14 and was ousted by veteran driver Bob Vandergriff Jr. in the first round. The 2013 season was a learning experience for Force and last season she improved dramatically racing to four final rounds and finishing in the Top Ten. The lone John Force Racing Top Fuel entry has continued to improve this season and looks to finish the regular season strong with momentum building towards The Countdown.