INDIANAPOLIS — Robert Hight and the Auto Club Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car team were vying for their fourth Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals title today and they came within eight feet of achieving that feat today at Lucas Oil Raceway. Hight, the No. 2 qualifier, was racing in his sixth final round at the most prestigious race of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series and for the first time in three finals he was the runner-up to Jack Beckman. In 2008 and 2013 Hight defeated Beckman but today Beckman used a nearly psychic reaction time to give his team the razor thin edge it needed to get the victory.

It was the tenth year in a row for John Force Racing to have a Funny Car in the final round of the U.S. Nationals. Over that span JFR has won the title seven times with Hight securing three of those wins. At the end of the day John Force Racing will wrap up the 2015 regular season on a streak that includes a win in Brainerd, a runner-up finish at the Traxxas Shoot-Out and a runner-up finish at the U.S. Nationals all thanks to Hight and his Mike Neff tuned Auto Club Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny. That success took a slight sting out of the disappointment from joining John Force and Don Prudhomme as the only four-time U.S. Nationals winners.

In his hauler immediately after the final round Hight talked about how much momentum mattered to his team and JFR overall.

“A lot…the car is going up and down the track every single run; progressively getting faster and quicker. We had today what we were missing yesterday. I am proud of these guys for getting it. It doesn’t look like it is on the edge; it looks like we can go quicker. But I’m mad at myself. I can do better than that. (Jack) Beckman had a great light, and I can do better,” said Hight, who has won 35 times on the NHRA tour.

In the first round Hight took out No. 15 qualifier John Bojec. It was the first time the pair had matched up in competition. Hight’s winning elapsed time of 4.078 seconds showed that his team had figured out their power issues from Sunday’s runs.

In the second round Hight raced teammate and boss John Force for the chance to head to the semi-finals. Hight was able to get the round win 4.064 to 4.085 seconds. It was the quickest side by side race of the session and showed that the JFR Chevrolet Camaros were creating the kind of performance numbers that had led them to ten consecutive Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals final rounds.

“That was a good run right there. You have seen a lot of great runs today and there is no place like Indy. I am just happy to be moving on with this Auto Club Chevrolet Camaro Funny Car and Robert Hight,” said crew chief Mike Neff, a two-time winner as a Funny Car driver.

In the semi-finals Hight had to face Tommy Johnson Jr. who he defeated in the final round of the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals two weeks ago. Hight was once again victorious 4.047 seconds to Johnson’s tire smoking 8.888 seconds. It was a monster run that Hight hoped would give him lane choice in the final round.

“Hopefully that will be good enough for lane choice. Something distracted me out there. I thought I heard Tommy (Johnson, Jr.) double-step it, and something screwed me up, so I think we dodged a bullet there. Great job to my team,” said Hight.

Hight will enter the Countdown to one as the No. 7 Funny Car driver in the point standings.

Courtney Force and her Traxxas Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car team powered through first round today in one of the biggest match-ups of the season. Force qualified in the No. 11 position, putting her side-by-side with the only other female in the Funny Car category, Alexis DeJoria. The 27-year-old Traxxas driver needed to beat DeJoria in the first round and make it to the finals to claim the last spot in the 2015 Countdown to the Championship.

In the first session, Force took the starting line advantage and ran with it. She posted a 4.064 ET at 316.67 mph next to DeJoria’s 4.085 ET at 307.02 mph for the win.

“Everybody wants to make the Countdown. That was a huge win for our Traxxas team; being able to get past Alexis and still have the opportunity (to make the Countdown),” Force said.

Coming into race day, Force sat 75 points behind DeJoria and needed to fight her way into the No. 10 position in the point standings. DeJoria had lane choice over the Traxxas Chevy driver in an all-female first round pairing.

This is the fifth time they have matched up this season, the tenth time they have met in the opening round of eliminations and the second time they have raced each other at the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at Indianapolis. Force is now 7-6 to DeJoria.

“We knew we needed to go rounds; we needed to get the win to pick up the points. We knew we needed the full package today. We knew today was going to be a little bit of a long shot for us (to get into the countdown), but we actually almost made it work. I’m proud of my team and all the effort they put in. I think it really showed our team’s true colors,” Force said.

In the second round, Force lined up beside Tommy Johnson Jr. This is the sixth time they have met in eliminations, the second time they have met in eliminations this year and also their second time racing each other at the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals.

They were three thousandths apart off the line, his .075 to her .078, but Courtney’s 4.117 ET at 312.93 mph wasn’t enough for Johnson’s 4.093 ET at 309.13 mph. The loss cost the team a shot at running for the final round, which would have put them in the Countdown to the Championship.

“Our car kind of slowed down in the second round. I thought we were going to get the win but right there at the end he went around me. Our team is still looking to get a win this season so that’s our ultimate goal.”

“We’re going to act like we’re still in the battle for the championship, cause we have a car that’s coming around and we’re going to get it all figured out for next year. We have the rest of the season to figure out what the issues are and to push the car harder and see where our limits are. We have come up short quite a few times on race day, which obviously isn’t what we want, but I think from the start of the season until now we’ve definitely made some huge strides, we just unfortunately put ourselves in this position to have to let it come down to that last round. There’s nothing we can do. We gave it our all today and we’re just going to have to go out the rest of the season and block those other guys and go for a win,” said Force.

Right after Courtney Force secured her first round win over DeJoria John Force picked up his 49th round win at the Chevrolet Performance U. S. Nationals. Force was racing Cruz Pedregon for the 99th time in their storied careers and the four-time U.S. Nationals champion won in dramatic fashion outrunning Pedregon 4.079 to 4.088 seconds. At the top end Force was full of energy as he spoke to the huge crowd in the stands.

“My hot rod ran quicker than that ET. I went in deep. Yesterday I wasn’t doing my job. I went up there and went brain dead in the Traxxas Shootout. I let that $100,000 slip away. I am excited I got my MoJo back and my girl got that win in the Traxxas Chevy. Every run we are getting better,” said Force.

At the end of the day after being ousted by eventual runner-up Hight Force was emotional in evaluating the progress and success of his team. After a regular season of rebuilding the winningest driver in NHRA history was proud of the direction his entire organization was headed.

“The way I run a race team has never changed; I run it from the heart. To watch these guys fight after we lost our money, we lost people and we had to train young new people it makes me proud. We want to give credit to those guys that won. They doubled up over there so God bless them. We showed we are back in the ballgame. Robert did a great job. Brittany almost getting to the final was big. Courtney getting DeJoria, a great racer, first round and keeping her head up,” said Force.

“This is the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway but Auto Club should be so proud because we are back. We are back and the numbers show it. We were faster some rounds but we showed we can run with anyone. The Countdown starts tomorrow and we have momentum. No one is hanging their heads over here and I could not be prouder of this entire team from the guys in the shop to the crew guys to all my drivers and crew chiefs.”

Brittany Force and the Monster Energy Top Fuel team continued their record breaking performance today. The third year pro moved up to No. 5 in the Top Fuel point standings on the strength of her semi-final finish. This is the highest points position Force has held since she was 5th coming out of the Phoenix race in 2014. She will enter her second consecutive Countdown to One play-off on a streak of a final round appearance in Brainerd and semi-final at the biggest race of the year.

In the first round Force out ran veteran Pat Dakin 3.853 to 3.901 seconds. The win evened up her career win record at 2-2 versus Dakin. In the second round Force took out Billy Torrence 4.058 seconds to Torrence’s tire smoking 7.422 seconds. Those two round wins were Force’s first victories at Lucas Oil Raceway and set her up with a semi-final race against Morgan Lucas.

Brittany left the starting line first but almost immediately drove into tire smoke. Lucas also had his hands full as his Lucas Oil dragster smoked the tires right after Force. Both dragsters were sashaying down the track but it was Lucas that got the win because Force’s rear Goodyear slicks crossed the center line DQing her run.

“This is the biggest race of the season and to have some success feels really good. This race launches the Countdown and we are leaving on a pretty good note racing all the way to the semi-finals. It just boosts our confidence that much more after Brainerd and gives us that momentum going into the Countdown. We are going to chase after it for these last six races,” said Force, a six-time NHRA Top Fuel finalist.

“When you pull up to the starting line at Indy you have to forget everything that is going on in front of you. You have to forget about the crowd, the photographers, the camera crews and you have to let it all go and focus on doing your job. My job is to get the car down the middle of the lane and get a win light. I know it is the biggest race of the season but you have to do your job,” added Force.